Dear Abby: The letter from "Muddled Mommy in Miami" (Sept. 21) really hit home. A child with Down syndrome had made an inappropriate remark to the writer's 4-year-old son.
I'm the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome. There have often been situations in which she has said or done something inappropriate to another child. I try to intervene when I know about it. I have her apologize to the child and the parent and try to make amends. Sometimes, it turns out that she was misunderstood because of poor speech and language skills.
By all means, Muddled Mommy should say something! This can be a teaching/learning moment for both her son and the other boy. Many children with developmental disabilities are mainstreamed with regular education children in school. Kids with Down syndrome need to be taught proper social skills so they can have a relationship with their peers.
If children with Down syndrome (or other disabilities) are taught to hold to acceptable societal standards, they can lead productive lives as adults. Isn't that what we want for all of our children?
- Mommy in Worthington, Ohio
Dear Mommy: Absolutely! It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children - both abled and disabled - acceptable behavior. Read on:
Dear Abby: As the parent of a special- needs child, I have come to realize that learning needs to take place on both sides. The mother of the Down syndrome child should have been told about her son's comments so she could take corrective action. But "Muddled" should also have taken her son aside and explained about children with special needs and disabilities so he could learn tolerance and understanding. Four years old is not too young to start.
We also have younger twins, who, at an early age, asked why their older brother "acts the way he does." In the six years since then, they have grown to be more perceptive and understanding. They are more forgiving of their peers and willing to help those less fortunate - "special" or not. They understand that there are many different types of people in this world, and I believe that knowledge will help make them more enlightened adults.
- Charles H., Fremont, Calif.
Dear Abby: I have been both a special education and a regular education teacher. By approaching the mother of the child who threatened her little boy, the writer could have alerted the mother to inappropriate behaviors that may be preventing her child from having positive peer interactions. Often children with disabilities repeat what they have heard others say. If the child truly meant what he said about "kicking his butt," then the mother should raise those issues with his teachers and therapists.
- Special Ed Teacher in Nevada