Sensitisation doesn’t come easy! It is a process of transformation and departing from the beliefs you’ve held dear all your life. It can’t happen overnight. But as parents of children with special needs, we need to keep at it forever.
Be it school, park, relatives, friends, neighbours or anyone who cares to listen, we sensitise or at least try to! It may be as simple as taking the child to a mall or cinema or local general store or asserting our right to send them to a mainstream school. Every time We hold that hand and step out, we are sensitising!
School is the first society and classmates are generally the first friends our children will get exposed to. So, it is not only imperative but also crucial to spread awareness about our child’s condition in a good informative way to his peers and other staff members.
Recently, I did a small workshop to sensitise the classmates of my daughter and it made some positive changes in their attitudes towards her. However, it wasn’t easy to put together all the resources and figuring out all that I could do since there wasn’t much information available on this subject.
‘It took me a while to ‘create, seek help from friends, choose and customise’ the material that I was comfortable sharing with her class.’
Today, I would like to share the same resources, so that other parents don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel. A lot can still be added, changed or customised but the basic frame work can be used to create similar resources and shared further.
There are many books that are fun and informative and parents can use them based on the age and grade of the children. If the children are as young as 5-6, ‘My Friend Isabelle’ can be read aloud or its video can be shown. This book talks about the bond between a typical boy and a girl with DS and how they both are different yet very good friends.
For a little older children aged 9-10, the book ‘What’s inside you is inside me‘ is great. This book without going into the details, talks about Down Syndrome in a fun and scientific way. It covers the role of chromosomes in determining the eye or hair colour and how people who have an extra chromosome are different yet same!
Here are a few pages for you to see…
I used the same book and the children loved it! You can also show the video ‘Down Syndrome 101’ which is interesting and easy for the children to comprehend.
Another thing which you must not forget is to write a letter or note to the parents well in advance so that the parents have an appropriate answer to pacify the child’s curiosity when they reach out to them.
Here is a letter I wrote for Aarshia’s classmates parents. Though the school didn’t allow me to send it across and I respect their decision, however, this could’ve helped children and their parents have a better understanding and being on the same page about Down Syndrome. I am sure I may be able to do it next time.
Here is the letter which you can customise further.
P.S. There are two pages. Please use the arrows to navigate.letter for parents 2
I also share another story/fact with children to enforce the feeling of co-operation, help, compassion and team values. I shared about ‘Flight Of The Geese’ and how Geese fly almost 71% more by flying together and all that they do keep up and help their own.
Here is the document for that.flight of the geese
The best part of the workshop was the interaction time, where children asked many questions and shared their opinions which was enlightening and heartening.
I remember one of the girl saying, ‘I feel people with 47 chromosomes are more lovable and friendly than people with 46 chromosomes because Aarshia always makes everyone feel loved and happy. She is the first to help someone if they are sad or hurt!
It was a kind observation to end my workshop with. I hope you’d find the information shared useful.