Friday, March 11, 2011

Caught Off-Guard

That is just exactly how I felt this afternoon - completely and utterly caught off- guard.

I called a Daycare Center just a bit ago to see if I may be able to find out some more information on their facility, as I will be going back to work (hopefully!) soon. I was primarily interested in seeing if they had spots available for the summer months for Cassidy and Dylan. The Director of the center called me back and we began chatting for a little while. The Center sounded great and the woman was quite friendly and enthusiastic.

I mentioned that my son happened to have Down syndrome.

I just threw it out there, truly not thinking that it would make one bit of difference. Naive? Yes, I now see that as so.

But. I do not see Dylan in that way; in the way that she must see him upon hearing his label, for after I told her that he has Down syndrome, there was silence.

I asked if there was a problem and she then said that she didn't think that "it would be a good fit for him".

I was... What was I?
Shocked.
Confused.
Hurt.
Angry.
Embarrassed.
Ashamed to be so naive. So naive to think that my kid may not be able to attend a regular ol' Daycare Center just like any other kid.

Not a good fit? Why? Because he is different? And he's not even really different, that's the thing!

"Why isn't he a good fit?", I asked.

She asked me if he is potty trained. "No, not yet", I said. Are all of the other 2.5 year olds, though, I wondered?

She asked me if he is walking. Oh. Walking. Walking. She hit a pretty vulnerable spot with that one, I will say that. I replied quietly, "No.".

"But", I said. "You never know...". And continued on a little too excitedly, grasping. "See. He wouldn't be starting this daycare until the summer, actually, so he just may be!! He just may be!!!".

More silence.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was, and still am, feeling caught off-guard. Reeling. I am trying to understand how this could be. How, in this day and age, that my son, simply because he has Down syndrome, can be unwelcome into a Daycare Center. Why? Please help me understand why he is not allowed there. He could teach the other kids SO much! He could teach the teachers and the Director SO much! He could share SO much of what he knows about life and learning and love.

It's a shame.

And unfortunately I am now aware that I will have many more of these situations ahead. But I will learn. I WILL learn how to be a better advocate. Dylan deserves nothing less.

Nothing less.

But guess what? It is their loss because Dylan is a cool kid. He is a smart kid with SO much to offer.

14 comments:

Wren said...

Wow, that's all I can say. In this day and age I hoped that we wouldn't be facing these types of stereo types! Any school or daycare center would be lucky to have Dylan and I'm sure you'll find one! :)

Christi Harrison said...

that is shocking to me too. i'm so sorry you had to deal with that. i have some friends in chicago who are dreading their daycare search but their son not only has down syndrome he has a g-tube and i was thought that was the reason it was difficult for them not the down syndrome part. i wish all of you luck in your search. i can't wait for the post where you write, "and they were like, YES, he has down syndrome. I bet everyone will love him here!"

Ann said...

I would've felt all of those feelings as well. I truly believe if they would've put their fears aside and met Dylan than all of those fears would've melted away. In the end, I guess we can be grateful that they showed their true colors, even if they were in black and white.

Angela said...

:(
I'm so sad for you.

*Tasha* said...

Sad! I would give almost anything to work with a child who has Down syndrome. I'm a college student & would adore that. Hmpf, the woman doesn't know what she's missing & probably was only focusing on the "inconveniences," not the joy. I'm sorry.

Looking Up said...

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who are still completely uninformed about Down syndrome. I was inquiring about potential preschools for my son to attend sometime next year & was told by one preschool director, "Well...I don't think that we're equipped to handle a child with needs like yours". My response, "Shouldn't you MEET the child & EVALUATE him first, before you make that judgement? Do you think that it's right to discriminate against someone based soley upon a diagnosis without knowing about their individual strengths & weaknesses ???" Afterwards, the director was both embarrassed & apologetic. Needless to say, however, my son will never attend that particular preschool.

c1ndy said...

Sorry Laurie. It is against the law here to refuse a disabled child a nursery place- it's disgusting that they can do that.

Baby Lilac is 100% not potty trained. Nowhere near!

Love to you. Xx

Kelli said...

What a shame! They have no idea what they are missing and how much a clue they don't have when it comes to kids. I wouldn't even want to send my kids there after hearing that. Dylan surely is one cool kid!

Jaime said...

Just this past week I too had a bad experience with a day care. The lady in charge of the infant area was so ignorant! She was making the "that really sucks" face at us when we told her that our baby will have DS. Then she even asked "how down is he"!!! SERIOUSLY.

The next day we went to check out a different daycare. I MUCH BETTER experience! Right from the begining they said a baby is a baby, and really positive.

Dylan can go to a regular daycare, there is no reason why he can't! Just look for the right one!

Katie said...

I'm so sorry you had to deal with that uneducated woman! It always makes me so angry when people don't give our kids even a chance. It's pathetic, really. But of course Dylan deserves better. It's just sad that sweet Dylan couldn't have made those other 'typical kids' better just by being in Dylan's presence. Hugs!

Lisa said...

(((Laurie))) wow. I'm shocked and angry for you.

Sasha said...

Wow that would catch me off guard too. Are they allowed to do that. Anyways they did you a favor. I wouldn't want my child to such a close minded place. Their loss for sure. Ugh.


Thanks for the follow. I added one more way enter. Sorry it was just after you posted. So want to be far and let you know.

Valerie said...

Oh Laurie.. our family knows your pain too well (we're the family Christi mentioned in her post, in Chicago). Since our son is aging out of early intervention in a couple of weeks, we have to change to a daycare located in the city, where his school will be. We have already been rejected by 1 place we saw yesterday (because Bobby doesn't walk), another place asked me how "severe" was his Down Syndrome and would he even be able to interact with his peers (Bobby is an incredibly social little guy!!!). We're still on the hunt, and will be asking for positive thoughts and also sending them your and Dylan's way. Yes, I know the ADA is recourse for dealing with these ignorant daycare providers (and we had one of our cases a few years ago referred to the DOJ for ADA violations, by our state senator), but at the end of the day, I go back to the question of if I really want to send my son to somewhere where he might not be treated well/equal to the other kids. It is so frustrating and tiring sometimes. Hang in there, and give your little guy a big high five from Chicago Bobby :)

comeaup said...

Unbelievable! I too thought that it was illegal to discriminate against anyone in Massachusetts. Check with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, www.mass.gov/mcad/, particularly www.mass.gov/mcad/forIndividualsEmployees.html. If these daycare centers are getting any tax relief they may have to allow all comers who are willing and able to pay. The State does have many laws to protect the rights of its citizens. Go for it!