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