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Will Down syndrome and Kindergarten Mix?

posted Monday August 4th, 2008

Just hours now, til the first day of school. The girls are asleep — in bed, anyway. Sophie assured me she wasn’t at all scared.

“A little bit?” I asked.

She held two fingers as close together as they’d get with out touching.

“A tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny bit,” she said, giggling. I’m not sure she knew what I meant, but we had a good laugh over it.

I keep joking to anyone who will listen that Sophie will go to kindergarten — for the first day, at least. That joke’s not funny tonight.

Today when we were getting back-to-school-hair cuts at Lollilocks, the very sweet stylist asked how old Sophie was.

“Sophie, tell the lady how old you are, please,” I said. 


The girl laughed. “How old is she, really?”  she asked.

Tomorrow will be the first in an occasional series of piece I’m doing for KJZZ, the Phoenix NPR affiliate, about Sophie’s kindergarten experience. Could be a very short series.

In any case, here’s the first essay:

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Tags: Filed under: Sophie Goes to Kindergarten by Amysilverman

2 Responses to “Will Down syndrome and Kindergarten Mix?”

  1. I hate the “How old is she?” question. Kayla is four, but she had Down syndrome and autism. So she looks like she is two and acts like she is 18 months. People seem to react with such shock when I tell them how old she is.

  2. I fretted quite a bit over my son’s first day in kindergarten – but when we arrived at school he left me at the doorway to his classroom, holding up his hand in a clear “Stop” sign. He found his name card and gave it to the teacher – only about a third of his mainstream classmates were able to do that the first day and I was so proud he was among them. His class had children from age 4 ‘early entry’ to age 6 – boys held back by parents for maturity reasons (or maybe to be bigger in high school when they would sign up for sports?)

    The first weeks did not go very well – and I was told by the principal, special ed administrator, and school psychologist that it was because he was ‘not mainstream kindergarten material’ – they said he was ‘low functioning with low potential.’ But the parent volunteers in his class said that they thought he was having a hard time because he would be pulled out of class in the middle of one thing and returned in the middle of another – something they said would throw off any kindergartner. I observed one day and saw that the O.T. took him out to paste up a picture very similar to what his classmates were pasting up in class, and the CDS (speech therapist) took him out for ‘group work’ that he did not participate in – sitting on the floor in a doorway because there was no room for her to have her group. When I withdrew permission for them to take him out of the class for therapy or evaluation, everything turned around and he did great. His only odd habit was to rush to the Science corner to pick up the big magnifying glass and look at everything in the classroom – but a few weeks later at his yearly eye exam we found he was extremely farsighted with astigmatism, and his first lenses were very much like that magnifying glass! He learned a great deal from his classmates that we would never have thought to put on his IEP, and all the children in the class seemed to be able to read one another’s minds so they understood his speech better than we did at home. He was almost six when he started kindergarten, due to an October birthday, and was as tall as most of his classmates, so that made a big difference. About three months into the school year he allowed me to volunteer in the classroom, and I felt great admiration and affection for his classmates. They had the best kindergarten teacher in the world. At the end of the school year she surprised me by admitting that she did not really feel up to having a student with Down syndrome in her class, but thanked me for the opportunity of getting to know my son. She never let on she had any misgivings or concerns until that day. What a gem! I hope you and Sophie bring away many great memories from her kindergarten year.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Pam W
    SE of Seattle

    Kindergarten Transition


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