How to Pick a School for a Child with Down Syndrome

Sometimes having a child with Down Syndrome can be difficult. Despite them being wonderful, capable people, they may not be viewed that way in society, making their school interactions very significant. This guide will help you choose the most helpful, positive school for your child.


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    Know your child. Since you understand what your child's needs and skills are, this can help you figure out what type of school is right for your child. Consider your child's ability levels, and whether they would be better off in a public school or a school for disabled children.
    • Does the school offer help for children with Down syndrome? Perhaps there are generalist specialists assigned to students who have additional challenges at school?
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    Consider what you want the school to do for the child. If your child is in therapy, that might take care of certain needs rather than relying on the school. Which services do you want the school to provide, and which can you take care of through therapy, play groups, and one-on-one time with your child?
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    Consult therapists and parents of disabled children. Ask parents where their child goes, what they like and dislike about the school, and which schools are the best. Your child's therapist(s) can also offer ideas about where to go.
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    Thoroughly research each school. You'll want to know about the specific coaching, curriculum, and environment that your child would experience. This is a huge commitment, and extensive research must be done.
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    Look for red flags. Unfortunately, disabled children are sometimes viewed as subhuman, and therefore, special education teachers will use tactics on them that they would never use on a non-disabled child. In some cases, the child becomes traumatized. Watch out for:
    • Restraint and seclusion[1][2]
    • Lovaas-style ABA[3][4][5]
    • An emphasis on compliance[6][7]
    • "Quiet Hands" posters - these are designed for autistic children or kids who have SPD, and they are harmful. If an adult is willing to silence an autistic child, they'll treat a child with Down Syndrome the same way.[8]
    • Children who are distressed about going to school, or start acting out after going there.
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    Once you've narrowed it down to a few schools, visit to check out those schools personally. Arrange a tour, and bring your child with you, if they are open to it. Consider meeting with the principal or talking to some of the special ed people at the school.
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    Follow your instincts. If you like the environment, and have a good hunch, then it's probably a good school. Your parental/caregiving instincts are often right. Give it a try, and see if it works well.


  • Have a talk with the principals of whatever schools you consider. Their personality should say a lot about the school and its culture.


  • Although saddening, some schools are indeed abusive, hence the detailed research that must be done. Be careful!

Article Info

Categories: Down Syndrome | Raising Children with Special Needs