I was sitting with two of my students right at the end of the school day working on our ongoing disability awareness efforts. Our individual for that day was a young man with Down syndrome. (Check out this video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBYdQg4WQcA)
Have you ever tried to explain to your students with Down syndrome what Down syndrome is? I launch into this explanation. “Well Down syndrome is when something funny happens to your genes - not the jeans you wear but the genes that decide what color your hair and eyes are…” Oh my. We will certainly have to keep revisiting that…
Bottom line though, I am really trying to help my students to be self-advocates even at the most basic level! If I can get them to recognize that they do in fact have a disability and that it simply means that sometimes they need special help with certain things, I will call it victory!
My format for exploring this right now is that I find a video about an individual with a disability doing something cool and exciting. Then I sit with the students and watch the video. Then we discuss and fill out a very basic worksheet that includes the person’s name, disability, strengths, weaknesses, and supports. Eventually I will have them turn that onto themselves to apply those same concepts.
I define strengths are things that are easy for that person or that they are really good at. Weaknesses as things that they have a hard time or need help with. Supports as things or people that help them to work around those weaknesses. Sometimes we have to stretch a little from these videos to find weaknesses but that’s where I can take some liberties in describing the disabilities and the things that are generally harder for folks with that disability.
Check out these other videos for some good motivation!
I’m sure there are a million more that you could find out there on the world wide web! But these are some of my starters.
How do you teach students with disabilities about disabilities? Or to be self-advocates? Do you have any amazing resources or curriculum that you highly recommend? Anybody else just have a funny story to share for the week?