I had a nice long chat with my buddy Cindy today about what life is like for people with disabilities and how they can be better integrated into society, especially once the safe space of schools is no longer available to them. Cindy volunteers regularly at Park School in Evanston, where she said that most of the students were aged between 6 and 20 and had Down Syndrome.
I’d been thinking about the dilemma of whether integrated school systems where students with disabilities are mixed in with typically developing students is more of a boon or a bane for them. On one hand, mixing the kids early on will allow them to get to know each other on a more personal level, and thus increase the level of understanding of the challenges they face. This could translate into more people with disabilities being able to find employment later on.
On the other hand, as my friends Taylor and William pointed out during our discussion, young children can be really mean. Without guidance from parents and teachers about mutual respect and not judging books by their covers, integrating kids that way could put children with disabilities in the direct line of fire of verbal abuse.
And then there’s the whole issue of training teachers to be able to differentiate their teaching well enough to match the varied learning levels of all their students. And because training costs money, funding will always remain an issue.
So when I came across the list of winners at the Tribeca Film Festival on the NYT, Alexandra Codina’s Monica & David caught my eye. When I saw the trailer, it was love at first sight. My heart melted like putty.
The film follows the marriage of Monica & David, two adults with Down Syndrome, and their family members who strive to support them. I’m definitely looking forward to a screening near me. :)