Ohio Family Story: What we didn’t know that we didn’t know

My husband and I have four children. Three of them are typical. Two are almost middle school and high school grade levels. Our youngest was born with Down Syndrome, which was a surprise birth diagnosis for us. Our children have always attended public school and we are about as personally engaged as is average in our district. But – we didn’t know how things would change, and what would work differently with, and for, Reece. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We quickly learned that our school system has a very different view of how to educate our son than we did. And while we for many years felt at least content with our other kids’ education, and our schools’ policies, we were no longer secure in Reece’s. We’ve had to really educate ourselves because sadly, our district does not wish to include kids with different abilities in typical classrooms. It has been a real struggle and uphill battle but, because we’ve had access to agencies like the Ohio Coalition, and great, experienced resources, we feel prepared to challenge the current status quo in a quest to better equip, and serve, those who operate a little differently. And through that all, we’ve been able to support other families who have similar concerns and life circumstances. Our hope is that someday soon, our district will no longer have a use or a place for “contained classrooms,” but utilize fully included classes.

This story was submitted by Tiffany Mustain, a family representative on our State Advisory Council.

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