Celebrating our differences together

Pre-K teachers Amy Lincoln and Christie Duncan took the time to educate themselves about a rare syndrome one of their students was diagnosed with. Now, the teachers and students use this knowledge to bring awareness and inclusion to the classroom.

Christie Duncan and Amy Lincoln love their jobs working as Pre-K teachers. They both feel they make a difference early-on in childrens’ lives and help them to develop not just intellectual skills, but also social ones.

This school year, for the first time they encountered a new experience. Their classroom had a child with Moebius syndrome. Last Wednesday’s edition of Who’s Who explained what Moebius syndrome is and the various symptoms associated with it.

First, the teachers decided to learn as much as they could about this very rare syndrome. They wanted to educate themselves about anything they needed to do and be aware of any special care the child might need while under their care. They did research and spoke with the parents of the child to get a full comprehension of what to expect.

Next, they taught the students in their classroom about why someone with Moebius would have noticeable differences and how to react to those differences. Thirdly, Duncan and Lincoln sent letters to the parents of the children in their classroom to let them know that their children were invited to share in a day of recognition for Moebius Awareness on January 24. All those desiring to give support to the day were asked to wear the official color of purple, the class gave their full support. A program was presented to educate the students about Moebius.

Swallowing can be an issue for a person with this rare disease, and both Duncan and Lincoln stay alert to make sure small bites are taken and that the child is not choking.

“Once the children in the class understood the potential danger, they are quick to remind their classmate to take small bites,” said Lincoln.

“It’s really precious to see the students at such a young age take an interest in their classmates’ welfare,” said Duncan. “The children are learning that differences can be embraced.”

Duncan said their student with special needs is a typically active four-year-old and has no difficulty learning what is taught in class. Lincoln said part of the teaching process in Pre-K is using music and songs to teach colors, numbers and letters and that this process is a helpful tool that all of the students in the class benefit from.

Lincoln and Duncan both said that someone might assume that due to this child’s lack of ability to control his facial muscles in a typical manner, that he suffers from a learning disability; however, they were both adamant in stating that this is absolutely not the case. These two teachers take the “dis” out of disability and turn it into ability.

Helen Keller said, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Christie’s Motto: “A person is a person no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

Amy’s Motto: “Think about how you want to be treated and treat others that way.”

— Marla Ballard’s Who's Who appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday and weekend editions.

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