Sandra Assimotos McElwee
Sean McElwee was born with Down syndrome, and entered his neighborhood school as a general education kindergarten student with the supports, accommodations and modifications he needed to be successful. He was included in all aspects of his elementary school; learned to read, excelled in math, performed in Talent Shows and most of all made many friends. Elementary school was such a wonderful learning and nurturing experience—then the horrors of Secondary school began—and sadly never ended. Struggling to be included where the students were welcoming but the educational staff was ignorant of Inclusive Best Practices and unwilling to learn, Sean survived. High school educators limited his ability to participate by violating his Civil Rights multiple times; denying access to electives, sports and elections. Sean’s mother learned laws she never thought she needed to know, and tried teamwork, diplomacy, and finally became punitive with Compliance and Civil Rights Complaints. Who’s the Slow Learner includes creative examples of accommodations and modifications. Education Law unfolds in their story revealing the hard lesson that while Inclusive Education is the law, you cannot legislate attitudes. This is the first book that chronicles a student with special educational needs from preschool to high school graduation. It is a story of triumphs and successes; losses and failures. Not a “how to” book but the chronicle of “how they did it” as Inclusion pioneers forging the way. Written in the hopes that parents and educators can learn from the achievements and errors made on both sides.
Ame on Goodreads wrote:
Excellent book—Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. Sandra McElwee has chronicled the life of her Down syndrome son, Sean, in a way that will guide and give understanding to parents and educators alike. She uses humor, grace, and perseverance to tell this true story of the struggle to have her son educated in a mainstream classroom. Through her experience she helps to educate readers on how to handle situations that can happen every day. It shows that being an advocate for your special needs child is never dull and keeps you on your toes. Also, her record keeping is amazing, and a guide for all parents with children that have IEP’s. I highly recommend this book for everyone. It makes for good reading for anyone. Who's the Slow Learner?, offers stories and accounts that give a much-needed understanding to the special needs child.
This "Down Syndrome Parenting" kind of memoir is more my style than the usual "pity me, why is my child different?" book that is typically written when the child in question is barely 2 years old (f*** those parents, by the way). Sandra McElwee opts to include Sean's IEP information for EVERY year of school from Kindergarten through High School, which is immensely helpful information. There are entirely too many inspirational quotes in this text, and it displays a few self-published elements, but the content is still invaluable to me. Rather than try to memorize the information year-by-year, I'm hoping to have this as a back-up tool as my own son progresses through the public school education system.