I am a mother of five children. My youngest daughter, Rebecca, is eight years old and has Down’s syndrome. She is very high functioning and all this thanks to early intervention. She underwent physiotherapy, as well as occupational and speech therapy from an early age. What also helped was the continued stimulation of a happy household, friends and visitors to our home.
I have schooled Rebecca at two different preschools; not special needs schools, but both mainstream schools and have now enrolled her in Grade 1 at a Joburg girls’ preparatory school. It’s a very traditional, inner city school with a good history in education. My daughter has fitted in well and is thriving in an excellent academic environment, which is nurtured by the school.
I am very happy with my choice of school so far and, as a special needs parent, also pleased that I could take full advantage of the government’s inclusion policy. This school is providing the perfect environment for Rebecca’s academic and social development.
Choosing a special needs or mainstream school
These results have made me a big advocate of mainstream schooling. I understand the need for special needs schools where children are mentally disabled, but not simply because a child needs remedial intervention or is suffering from delayed milestones.
My daughter’s story is the perfect example of how mainstream schooling for disabled children can contribute to their individual advancement, as well as the advancement of the school and society as a whole. I strongly believe that the inclusion of these children in a mainstream school has benefits for society. On that note, I feel a lot still needs to be done around classroom assistants and facilitators who are much needed in schools that boast an inclusion policy.