Our answer has always been the same. Whatever works for Harry. He currently attends a mainstream nursery and is blooming there, so ideally we would love for a mainstream school to work for him. We swore when we found out his diagnosis that we would never treat him any differently then we would have if he didn't have Down's syndrome or Klinefelter's syndrome, and we have worked hard to keep to that as much as possible. So it always confuses me that people question why we would attempt mainstream schooling. If it doesn't work, we step back and reconsider, as we always have with Harry.
This got me thinking, What things are really important for us to aim for with Harry. What dreams do we have for his future, this is the list we came up with;
1. Do well in school. For this one we aren't talking about grades necessarily, I mean that we want him to be involved in things, like teams or after school clubs, making friends and just generally enjoy school. For me, this is what doing well in school means.
2. Achieve. We are very much in the frame of mind that Harry is a person, and as such we try not to dictate things for him, such as things like which football team he will support (I have refused point blank to let anyone buy him anything to do with football teams) or what we want him to be interested in. if he wants to be a dancer, go for it, if he wants to be a poet good on him. We really have no preference, but the most important things for us is that he works hard and gives it everything he's got to achieve his dreams.
3. To be accepted. This is a great fear for us. It took a long time for us to accept that, as much as we treat him as normally as possible there are people we know who don't and who he will come in contact with in the future who won't. To them he is different. I work hard every single day to try and raise awareness in the hope that Harry will never meet people who will treat him badly because of his diagnosis.
4. He lives in a world that he feels safe in. As an adult and a parent, I am shocked at all the things in the world that make me scared or feel unsafe. I wish I could protect Harry from these things forever, but most of all I want him to feel safe walking down the street or driving a car and the things that scare me aren't there when he's out in the world on his own.
5. That he can look after himself. This one is my most important and actually didn't come around because of his diagnosis. Sam and I aren't going to be around forever, and I want to leave Harry, as well as any other children we may have, with all the skills he will need to look after himself when we are gone. I want him to know the value of money and that nothing is handed to you on a plate. That bills need paying and debt is a dangerous thing. I want him to be able to cook and use the washing machine and all the other things that come with 'Adulting'