Monday, August 4, 2014

Praying with Lior

This documentary is one I saw recommended on Teaching Your Child to Show Love and Respect to Individuals with Special Needs as a film that could help educate able bodied children on how to interact with disabled children.  I have to say, just based on the trailer of this film, I would caution parents against using this as any type of educational method for your child.  Even the tag line to this film: "Faith Can Be Simple" to me, seems deeply condescending and ableist.

I've watched a couple different trailers, and each is really troubling to me, frankly.  In the first, I saw Lior's classmates being interviewed and sharing that "Lior's Down Syndome is his test," and that "it's also part of our test.  How we treat Lior."  I saw Lior's own father say in an interview that "he's not st---d, he's re-----d, there's a difference," and then laughing.

In another trailer, I saw kids claiming that, "I don't even think Lior knows he's different."  Then, it cuts to Lior and other kids on the playground.  Lior wants to play football, and the comments by the kids are all really harmful in different ways: "He wants to play football.  We gotta let him."/"No, he stinks."  If this child really thinks Lior is unaware of his differences, watch his face as he says, "I'm gonna go play another ball" and then goes to stand alone and watch the others play.  Then there was another classmate, who said, "I let Lior choose a game and play whatever he wants, because I want to make it easier for him in his life."

This is not what we should be teaching our kids, and I'm horrified by all the positive press this documentary has gotten, even by people associated with the Special Olympics?  Really?

It's not helping anyone, least of all Lior and kids like him, to view his Down Syndome as a test to be endured or overcome.  It's not helping him to hear his dad use pejorative terms to describe him.  It's not helping him for kids to be mean and exclude him, but it's just as unhelpful for kids to indulge him in his every whim because they want to "make his life easier."

So, your kid goes to school with someone who has Down Syndrome, and Praying with Lior is not a road map toward success.  How should my kid behave toward a kid with Down Syndrome?

Well, it's pretty easy.  Teach them to respect that child, in the way they speak and interact.  Teach them to include everyone in big group games, and encourage turn-taking on the playground.  First one child picks a game, then another, and so on.

I can't get over how disappointing these trailers were.

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