What is Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome is caused by the development of an extra twenty-first chromosome, for a total number of forty-seven chromosomes instead of the average forty-six. Though the cause of this genetic disorder is unknown, it has been proven that the chance of having a Down Syndrome baby increases with the age of the mother, especially when she is over forty years of age. Children with Down Syndrome have physical impairments and mental retardation ranging from mild to severe. (Down Syndrome 2001)
With the increasing population of Down Syndrome students in the school system, there is a strong need for educational and social acceptance among school faculty and classmates.
Many people can recognize children with Down Syndrome, but they can not tell the causes or characteristics of the disease. Generally in school environments, the percentage of Down Syndrome children is low according to the public opinion. Down Syndrome children are looked upon as abnormal in public schools. Most people do support government funding for them. Even though the law says Down Syndrome children should be included in classes, many people believe that severe to moderate cases of mental retardation caused by Down Syndrome should not be mainstreamed. They also believe that Down Syndrome children should receive extra help in schools if needed. Overall, society places less value on the lives of children with Down Syndrome in comparison with children who are developing normally. For instance, it has been noted that some, potentially many, hospitals have refused some Down Syndrome patients in need of heart transplants, even though they have the same medical rights as other non-disabled patients. (Resources, Down's Syndrome 2001)
Down Syndrome is the leading cause of mental impairments in America. (Friedman 2000) Children with Down Syndrome have a higher risk for the following conditions:
- congenital heart defects
- hearing loss
- otitis media
- Hirschsprung disease
- gastrointestinal atresias
- eye disease
- refractive errors
- hip dislocation
- sleep apnea
- thyroid disease
Many of the conditions mentioned can be improved with early intervention.
Many patients with Down Syndrome are living to the age of 55 and older due to the increase of medical research and discoveries. (www.ndss.org 2001)
According to research, classmates of Down Syndrome students benefited as much from inclusion as the Down Syndrome student.The disabled student learned from interaction with other students what is appropriate behavior, while the non-disabled students improved their study habits from peer tutoring. Some non-disabled student's also volunteered in special education classes, and began to show a more caring attitude toward their fellow students. Among ethnically divided groups, the inclusion of a Down Syndrome student began to break down socioeconomic and racial walls between the students. In the scenarios mentioned above, the teachers and students were educated about inclusion with workshops and inservices before the Down Syndrome student was included in the class. (Farlow, 1996)
Educational and Organizational Diagnosis
IDEA Act 1975 and Public Law 94-142 ensures that all handicaped children recieve free and equal public education. They also call for students with disabilities to be placed in the least restrictive envirnoment. (U.S. Department of Education)
Teachers are not fully educated in regards with special education. They are only required to take one course dealing with special education in college.
Non-disabled students get no education on how to interact with students that have Down Syndrome. It is not addressed in the classroom or at home, and society over looks this problem.
Administrative and Policy Diagnosis
Different children have different needs, and a individualized education progarm team is assembled to decide what is best for each individual disabled child. This group includes the child's parent, teacher, principal of the school, and a school councilor. They decide on the placement of the child and his/her curriculum needs.
When local schools were asked about policies on including Down Syndrome students, they stated that no written policies exist. Special education teachers said that placement of the student was left up to the individualized eduation program team
"About Down Syndrome." National Down Syndrome Society (2001)
"What is Down Syndrome?" Mayo Clinic (2001) Available: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/down-syndrome/DS00182
Farlow, Leslie."A quartet of success stories: how to make inclusion work." Educational Leadership 53 (1996): 51.
Friedman J.M., S.A. Rasmussen, Q.H. Yang. "Down Syndrome associated mortality in the United States from 1983 to 1997: improved survival and paucity of cancer." American Journal of Human Genetics 67 (2000): 26.
"Health Supervision for children With Down Syndrome." Pediatrics 107 (2001):28.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. U. S.Department of Education (2001) Available: http://www.ed.gov.
Savulescu, Julian. "Resources, Down's Syndrome and Cardiac Surgery." British Medical Journal 322 (2001):875.
Wolpert, Gloria. "What general educators have to say about successfully including students with Down Syndrome in their classes." Journal of Research in childhood Education 16 (2001):28.
Karen Gaffney Foundation
Down Syndrome Educational Trust
U.S. Department of Education
National Down Syndrome Society
Lorenz, Stephanie. "The Placement of Pupil's with Down 's Syndrome: A Survey of One Northern LEA." British Journal of Special Education. 22 (1995): 16-19.
Related Journal Articles
Brown, Frank K. III. "Intellectual and adaptive functioning in individuals with Down Syndrome in relation to age and environment placement." Pediatrics. 85 (1990): 450.
Michaels, Evelyne. "Medical advances, positive attitudes brighten future of Down's children." Canadian Medical Association Journal 143 (1990): 546.
Pueschel, Siegfrid M. "A Parent's Guide to Down Syndrome." The Exceptional Parent 20 (1990): 63
- Over 350,000 people in the United States alone have Down Syndrome. (About Down Syndrome 2001)
- 95% of all cases of Down Syndrome occur because there are three copies of the 21st chromosome, it is referred to as "trisomy 21". (About Down Syndrome 2001)
- 1 in 800 infants are born with Down Syndrome. (Down Syndrome 2001)
- 12 out of 250 parents said that their students where not included in general education for at least half a day, or that their child's inclusion experience was not successful. (Wolpert 2001)
- 51% of general educators consulted with special educators during the inclusion experience. (Wolpert 2001)
- 36% of classes used a resource room or pull out source for their included children. (Wolpert 2001)
- 83% of classes had an inclusion teacher's aid. (Wolpert 2001)
- 78% of classes have an inclusion teacher's aid that stay with the child from year to year in order to provide program stability. (Wolpert 2001)
- 94% of teachers reported that an included student's desk area was the most effective place for instruction. (Wolpert 2001)
- 66% rated the inclusion experience as more rewarding than anticipated both for themselves and other classmates. (Wolpert 2001)
Local statistics are not currently available on the topic of Down Syndrome and Inclusion. Our group searched for statistics from web pages, organizations, and journal aritcles. The following is a list of places that we looked.
- Arco (Monroe)
- Families Helping Families (Monroe)
- ERIC (Journal search)
- LOUIS (Journal search)
- U. S. Department of Education
- Ouachita Parish School Board
- Local schools
- Local Special Education teachers
- Implementation #1- Teachers need to be more throughly educated in the area of special education in college.
- Process Evaluation- Colleges nationwide should be required to incorperate a course on the inclusion of special education students in their education curriculum. Every college will create a check sheet that shows the newly implemented course for education majors.
- Impact Evaluation- Education majors should be required to pass this course with a 'C' or better.
- Outcome Evaluation- Teachers feel more comfortable when including disabled students into their classrooms.
Implementation #2- Teachers that are already in the work force should have inservice training regarding strategies in curriculum adaptations dealing with including special education students.
- Process Evaluation- Create a required inservice dealing with including special needs children into the classroom. Each school will send in a list of teachers that have attended the inservices for each month.
- Impact Evaluation- Every teacher will have attended the inservice by May of 2003. At the end of every inservice the teachers will be required to pass an exam that shows they are capable of updating a curriculum.
- Outcome Evaluation- Teachers will become more comfortable when including special education students and adapting lesson plans to meet their special needs.
Implementation #3- Non-disabled students will attend classes with a curriculum based on disability awareness.
- Process Evaluation- The curriculum committee will report to area school boards on the progress of the disability awareness program every semester.
- Impact Evaluation- All students should complete the course in the first year of junior high and high school.
- Outcome Evaluation- Students will develop understanding, acceptance, and a caring attitude toward disabled classmates.
Implementation #4- Teachers will be required to incorporate peer-tutoring among disabled and non-disabled students.
- Process Evaluation- Teachers will create lessons that include peer tutoring.
- Impact Evaluation- Students are engaged in a lesson that involves peer tutoring at least once a week.
- Outcome Evaluation- Every students feels comfortable working with their classmates.
Implementation #5- Have an annual friendship walk.
- Process Evaluation- Have a community organization to sponsor a walk with disabled and non-diabled people.
- Impact Evaluation- Community organizations will commit to the walk every year. The funds raised from the walk will be published in an annual news letter.
- Outcome Evaluation- The community helps to raise funds and create awareness for disabled students. A social diagnosis poll will show whether people involved in the friendship walk had an increase in social acceptance of disabled students or not.
Implementation #6- Implement an after school tutoring program that involves high school students and younger disabled students.
- Process Evaluation-Find schools and students that will embrace the program.
- Impact Evaluation- Every school will make this program available to their students by May 2004.
- Outcome Evaluation- Disabled students will gain needed educational assistance, and the tutors will gain understanding and empathy for people that are different from themselves.
Implementation #7- A nationwide campaign to promote social acceptance of disabled people.
- Process Evaluation- Develop television commercials and billboards geared towards educating the public about disabilities.
- Impact Evaluation- Every state should sponsor the campaign and have it in affect by 2004.
- Outcome Evaluation- These ads will create social awareness and acceptance of disabled individuals.
Implementation #8- Employ a district administrator to guide teachers in curriculum adaptations for disabled students.
- Process Evaluation- State will hire a qualified instructor.
- Impact Evaluation- District should have an administrator on staff by 2004.
- Outcome Evaluation- Teachers will feel less pressure from the task of inclusion.
Implementation #9- Public will have access to local and state statistics about Down Syndrome and inclusion.
- Process Evaluation- Form a research group to gather statistics about Down Syndrome and inclusion.This research group will report their findings to local and state officials.
- Impact Evaluation- The group should be formed and start gathering information by the next year.
- Outcome Evaluation- Local and state statistics will become available to the public.
Implementation #10- A policy will be implemented for the inclusion of disabled students.
- Process Evaluation- Each parish will submit a policy to the state education department for approval.
- Impact Evaluation- Each school will be required to submit a inclusion policy form to the local school board on each disabled student in their school.
- Outcome Evaluation - Schools across the state will have the same policy on inclusion creating a constant and equal atmosphere for all disabled students.