Yesterday I got to attack some misconceptions and assumptions I've heard as we've explained our decision to send Max to a mainstream preschool. Now for the fun part--some of the reasons why we ARE making this choice.
- We want to give inclusion a try. It seems easier now than it might be as Max gets older and the differences become more distinct.
- Timing, schedules, location, cost -- all the factors that are a part of figuring out any kids' childcare. The location and hours are pretty much a perfect fit for my work schedule.
- This preschool came well-recommended. Why wouldn't we want the same great things for our kid that all our friends are finding for theirs?
- Preschool is just one part of Max's day. I'm mostly at home with him, I'm able to drive him to therapy and practice skills with him at home. If we were looking for full time childcare we might have been more interested in the Special Education preschool and all of the services it provides. But for now Max is only away from me for a few hours each week, and so our priority was on a few hours of inclusion.
- We've observed how Max lights up and participates in programming for typical toddlers around town. Storytime at the library, gymnastics at the Y, sneaking in to Toby's dance class--Max wants to participate in the stuff everyone else is doing. As long as that is the case, there doesn't seem to be a reason to separate him.
- Max's teachers and classmates are learning about Down syndrome, and, more generally, about diversity.
- It's what we would do if Max didn't have Down syndrome. When we brought Max home from the hospital, all of the doctors and nurses and NICU social workers said the same thing, "Treat him like any other baby. Raise him the same way you would your other children." This is one of our first opportunities to do just that.