Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chromosomes 101

In Kevin's seventh grade science class, they are currently learning about chromosomes (in honor of this, Kevin wore his "My Brother Has More Chromosomes Than Yours" t-shirt to school one day recently - gotta love that kid). the teacher has given the kids a very basic overview of chromosomes and the role they play in the development of a human being.

She explained to the kids that each person is made up of a contribution of 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 from the father, making 46 chromosomes.

Not hard to see where this is going. Yes, the subject of Down syndrome came up, and the teacher explained that sometimes one of the parents contributes an extra chromosome and this results in something called Down syndrome. Kevin said that she didn't go into any depth really about Down syndrome, but she did say something along the lines of, "It's not necessarily horrible, but it's not necessarily good, either. It's basically just not normal."

Ack, there's that word: normal.

I asked Kevin how this all made him feel, and he just kind of shrugged. For the record, the teacher apparently knows that Kevin has a sibling with Ds.

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this. I guess a little sad. I mean, I don't expect a seventh grade teacher to go into a lot of depth about Down syndrome, but I think what she said is actually very telling about the general ignorance out there about Ds.

I wish it weren't judged as "not horrible" or "not good" or "not normal." I wish it were just seen as a variation in the vast landscape of human beings.

8 comments:

Mel said...

Love the shirt! Your boy has guts and a great sense of humour :) I guess the teacher is still learning, but I do get tired of educating people. Maybe things will be easier again for the next generation if we keep plugging away at it, just as things are easier for our boys because of the efforts of those who went before us.

ds.mama said...

What you said in that last paragraph, you should tell her (as nicely as possible of course). She will probably teach many more students through the years... some of whom might someday be facing a diagnosis and a choice. Every little bit helps :-)

Tara said...

I hope Mel's right. I hope it is easier for those coming up behind us because of our efforts at education and advocacy. I get so weary of it, sometimes. Love your oldest boy wearing that shirt! He rocks!

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

I love that he wore the shirt too!!! Is it one from my store?! I totally missed going into the kids school during October and teaching them about Down syndrome awareness like I usually do, so I guess I'll shoot for March for World Down Syndrome Day. I hate the "not normal" or that our kids "suffer" from Down syndrome. Drives me crazy. *sigh*

Coco said...

My 6th grader is learning the same thing as well. I went as far as sending in one of our books about Down syndrome for her to show her teacher. I thought if the conversaton went any further he would have the answers.

Monica Crumley said...

I love the shirt, too! My son is in 7th and is also studying chromosomes and heredity, etc. I gave a talk to the 7th graders last month about Ds and the "R" word and showed some short clips from Special Olympics "the R Word is out" and another from Blueberry Shoes Productions. They loved it. Maybe you could offer to do the same for your son's class. They all love John Michael, so I brought him to class with me and also showed a Powerpoint preso (short) about Ds using John Michael's photos. It made quite an impact on a number of students.

Esther and Brian said...

Lisa, I have a huge pet peeve. I hate when people do not use proper grammar and/ore refer to proper names incorrectly. No, not talking about you by any means! I was on this pregnancy/parenting board where one lady, pregnant with twins, had some results showing that possible her twins might have Down's Syndrome. Well, her and all the other ladies, kept saying Downs babies. Beside People First language, what the heck is Downs? It's Down's....just a pet peeve...needed to share with ya!

Esther and Brian said...

Ok, I apologize for spelling mistakes---my own twins are kind of ornary today and not letting me type!