After presenting to medical professionals and students for over nine years about Down syndrome, I recognized a need to speak to all children about all disabilities. I created a presentation that focuses on all intellectual disabilities and differences and emphasizes that the more a child understands, the more they accept. I am accompanied by Michelle Anderson, an amazing young woman with Down syndrome, who tells the kids that she has a great life. Depending on the age of the students, I show a short video on autism or read a story, followed by a discussion about treating everyone with respect. We talk about hurtful words, the proper way to ask questions, and how to reach out and befriend someone who may have significant differences. I draw on popular
books and movies to help kids relate to the topic, and leave plenty of time for students to ask questions and share their own experiences. Over the past three years, I have presented to over 9,000 children in grades 2 through 8, with only positive reviews and comments from staff and students.
Presentations can be tailored to the age group and any particular concerns at the school. Topics of discussion help to meet SEL goals and touch on bullying and differences other than disabilities.
Michelle and I are happy to speak to parent organizations and provide details of the presentations we give to students, highlighting the importance of teaching children about disabilities and having candid conversations. I also provide presentations to guide parents in how to talk to their own children about a classmate with special needs, as well as help parents of children with disabilities learn how to support their child's acceptance in and out of the classroom.
TEACHER AND SUPPORT STAFF PRESENTATIONS:
Presentations to teachers and support staff focus on successful ways to include all students and encourage acceptance. I pull from my own personal experiences with my daughter, as well as Michelle's experiences, to provide examples of positive situations, as well as those that could have been handled differently. I discuss the important role that all staff play in creating an inclusive environment, and what can be done to avoid negative experiences. Michelle discusses the impact each teacher and support staff had on her future, providing a unique opportunity for elementary school staff to see the differences that they can make.
Presentations can be tailored to fit the audience and specific concerns of the school.