Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where High Expectations Lead You

Fifteen years ago, my son, Jon came home from high school and told me he had bad news, "My teacher, June G. told me that because I have Down syndrome, I can't get my driver's license."  I told him that was not true. If he wanted to get his license, we would help him to study and give him driving lessons. The next thing we did  was to take him out of June's class and  and Marblehead High and the low expectations June and the school had for him. June was a good teacher, but since she was not on the same page as us, she could not teach Jon. You see, we had high expectations for Jon and set the bar just beyond where anyone else thought he could achieve. This wasn't about whether Jon could drive, it was bigger than that.  If Jon wanted to drive, like any other person, he would receive instruction and then he would either pass or fail. That was the natural consequence.  To deny Jon the opportunity, would be to deny his person hood. Down the road, someone could use this thinking to say he couldn't stay by himself, take public transportation or whatever other low expectations people had. So, Jon enrolled at Swampscott High, our neighborhood school, where there were high expectations and  no limits for him. After taking driver's education, he decided that in fact, he was not interested in driving after all.  It was his decision-not June's.
Today Jon, age 31, lives by himself-I mean by himself. No roommates.  Staff assist him a few hours a week. He has a job, friends and is active in his community.
Last night, Jon called. He drove a car.

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