Down Syndrome, Children with Special Needs, Books

Down Syndrome, Children with Special Needs, Books

I don’t know why those expectations feed into our cultural understanding of what people with Down syndrome achieve, especially when so many of us have lived experience that says otherwise. This storybook explains brain injury through the experiences of a young robot, Tim Tron. The reader sees Tim Tron before his accident and then goes on a journey with him as he copes with change and going back to school. Finding My Way Books now included on Piper’s Key, an organization that gifts inclusive books to children with disabilities that represent their unique selves in a positive light. We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen.

Because YA readers are just beginning to shape their own perspectives on the world, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to diverse characters whose lives overlap with each other’s. Each of these stories feature at least one character who has Down syndrome. I asked Krekeler to help me narrow down the list of books that celebrate characters with Down syndrome or messages of inclusivity. Many of these titles are her own family’s favorites.

It shows all these kids working together to plant a garden, showing that just like the variety of plants in the garden, our differences make the world more interesting and richer. But what about the kids whose intellect is not their superpower? Even in a world that is becoming more inclusive, we struggle to receive people with intellectual disabilities as fully human.

See what she can do at home, in class and even on a field trip. She’s able to do just about all the same things that any typical child can do. Sometimes she may need to do things a bit differently but that’s okay! The Ability Toolbox has a book list available encourages children to interact with others who may have a disability.

The disabled character is often used to illustrate and embody a theme that exists outside their interior world. In her paper Depictions of Intellectual Disability in Fiction Anupama Iyer, consultant psychiatrist in adolescent developmental disabilities for St Andrew’s Healthcare, discussed this connection. Fear, of the body growing into adulthood while the mind stays behind in childhood .

After all, the novel is forever changing, and my hope is that characters with Down syndrome will diversify and change with it. My character with DS, Samson Fox, can be part of this change but he can’t carry the full weight of his disability. He is only one voice in a symphony of what could be thousands, maybe even 1 in every 733. The Down Syndrome Novel centres around disability and almost universally presents the character with Down syndrome as a problem within the narrative that the narrator must learn to overcome. This movement towards acceptance is the character arc, narrative problem and eventually, the plot. But, despite this lived experience, there is still a crisis of representation around Down syndrome, particularly in narrative fiction.

I wanted to open a book and see a character with Down syndrome. I wanted to hear his voice and see inside his head. Down syndrome is still something of a mystery because it is largely represented through archetypes, and images folded down through literature. There is in fiction, as there is in life, a culture of low expectation. These fears, felt and expressed by the writer, narrator and reader, are all ingrained in this lack of voice. These elements, when combined, create a culture of low expectation of the character with Down syndrome within the narrative.

Sam is an English boy with cerebral palsy during the 1960s. He’s not allowed to attend school and is even institutionalized by his mother but he dreams of more, buoyed in his mind by his hero Winston Churchill and a passion for basketball. The book shows both Annie and Helen’s strengths and weaknesses as well as really significant character arcs. If you don’t know the story, or even if you do, read this book. You’ll be entranced with how laborious it was to teach Helen and how Annie’s persistence paid off in the end.

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