The Case of Jason Masters

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The Case of Jason Masters by Mind Map: The Case of Jason Masters

1. Primary: My name is Jason and I have Down syndrome. I am not always sure exactly what that means but I do know that I am different than the other kids in my class. I don't let this stop me for enjoying all the fun and exciting activities there are at school! I just have so much energy all the time! I love learning my letters, numbers and really like when when our teacher tells us it's time to act out a scene. I am so good at that! Sometimes I even make my friends act things out at recess but none of them are as good at acting as me. My friend Abby is my favourite and we do everything together! But..I have a really hard time paying attention for too long because there are just so many other fun things I could be doing! My helper (resource teacher) makes sure I understand what my teacher already said and lets me have extra time to figure the hard stuff out.

1.1. Junior: My name is Jason and I have Down syndrome. Now that I am in the older grades things have become a lot harder. Sometimes I feel like everyone else is running around me and my feet are heavy like bricks and I can't keep up. Some of the kids are mean now. They call me mean words that my parents say I should never repeat like the "R" word. They also make fun of the way my face looks. Other kids, even my old best friend Abby, think I don't hear them when they whisper that I'm the "downs kid", but I do and it hurts. The other day in art class everything just felt like too much all at once and so I screamed and threw all my pants on the ground. We were supposed to be painting the petals of a flower but I couldn't get my hand to move like everyone else's was and so my teacher came over to talk to me. I didn't want to talk so I threw more paint on her and began to cry. I was so frustrated. After this, my parents came in to talk to my teacher and my Resource teacher too. We all had a really long meeting to talk about the Ontario Curriculum, standards for Grade 5 and how I can still do what everyone else in my class is doing but in a slightly different way. They all agreed that my emotional, physical, intellectual and academic needs are what's most important to them. They said that something called "modifications" and "specifications" would be put in place so that I can learn at my own pace. They also talked about Special Education policies and how I would soon have my own Individualized Education Plan, also called an IEP. They let me know that tons of students have IEP's and even get Differentiated Instruction, just like me, so kids with Down syndrome aren't the only ones! Now I'm allowed to sit on this spike-y ball chair while I do my work with my Resource teacher and it helps me focus. My Resource teacher makes sure that when she gives me instructions that they are short, clearly printed in large font and that there are always lots of pictures. I still really love to act and so my RT often acts out things to me and then I understand them better! After this meeting I felt a lot happier, like I was learning again and maybe even a little bit like I wasn't so far behind everyone else.

1.1.1. Intermediate/High School: My name is Jason and I have Down syndrome which has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. While grade school was sometimes tough I am so proud of doing so well and coming as far as I have! My parents tell me everyday that they're so proud of me and that makes me feel great. I am so thankful for all the accommodations and specifications my teachers have been willing to make each year so that I am comfortable in their classroom. Over the years my IEP has changed and evolved but it has always been a central part of my learning. Now that I'm in High school everything is about acting and I get to do all the dramatic things I love to do. I have been in every school play each year, even helping set up and tear down the sets. I joined our school drama club and even take drama class too! Now I have tons of friends who like to act just as much as me. I love putting on a costume and getting to pretend to be someone else for a day. When I'm not at school I work at the theatre club twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. I still have a resource teacher and she and my parents, along with my class teachers and principal, have been talking about what I am going to do after I'm done High School. I am a little worried that next year is my very last year because I do not really like change. Although a lot of my friends are talking about going to different Universities and Colleges my support system has decided that this might not be the best for me just yet. At first I was angry and frustrated that I couldn't just be like everyone else. I know I'm smart and I am such a good actor. After talking with my parents and teachers a little bit more I realize that a Theatre Training Program might be much more fun. My Resource teacher told me that post secondary education should be about pursuing your goals and dreams for a future job. I know that all I've ever wanted to do was work in drama and act and so I see now that this is what is best suited for me. I think my biggest goal going forward is to begin to rely less on other people and become more independent, something my support group and I have been working on for awhile.

2. As Jason's parents, we appreciate the effort that his school has put into his specialized education. We appreciate the teacher working closely with us to ensure that Jason suceeds. Although we prefer Jason does his work in class, we fully understand and we are glad that we are able to see what he is doing in class, as well as help him the best to our abilities at home. One of our concerns was that Jason will rely too much on the help of others and will not be able to independently be successful. however, we think that high school has provided him with a great source of independent opportunities.

2.1. One Strategy we would like to see implemented through the Special Education Policy is a copy of Jason's IPRC. Under the "Strengths and Needs" we would like to see a push for independence. We understand that Jason will never be fully independent, but we would like him to be able to make choices (that are reasonable) just as he did with his arts program. We would also like to see the function of the Special Education Board's plan. We do not think that we would ever have to appeal the decision of the board, however, we do want to ensure that Jason is not engaging in a continuation of his regular school.

3. Principal Perspective: Katherine McLean

3.1. As a principal, I have every confidence in my colleagues and I am willing to support them by any means necessary in further accommodating Jason and efficiently preparing him for his time in Post-Secondary. Although we have all come to the agreement that Jason will remain in high school until the age of 21, we will be certain that his time here at the school will in no means be an extension of high school, but rather a preparation for integrating into the working world, and also preparing for his time in post-secondary; potentially in a drama program, as Jason seems to thrive in this environment. We are very excited that Jason will be volunteering in the community, making connections with others in his desire field and gaining some real world experience. We are so proud of all of the progress he has made thus far, and feel very confident in moving forward with an appropriate program/accommodation to ensure his success.

3.2. It has been a real pleasure to know and see Jason improve over the years of his time in our school, he is definitely paving the way for future students who may need similar accommodations, and we take great comfort in knowing that we offer a safe and engaging place for students like Jason to grow and thrive in. Going forward, our hope is that we can have a permanent program in place for students such as Jason, and also include the other students in the school to help accommodate and learn from/teach other students who are easily influenced by their peers. I feel so fortunate as an educator to be a part of a board that supports special education and also has adequate funding to do so. Our goal is to help other schools within our community model a similar approach when it comes to helping students with exceptionalities.

4. Summary

4.1. He is a 17 years old with Down Syndrome, currently in grade 11 at an urban high school.

4.2. He has a resource teacher and educational assistant

4.2.1. Primary: Active member of the class, loved drama class, participated and was very successful in early school period

4.2.1.1. Junior: Behavioural and academic -He continued to improve academically but at a slower rate than his peers. Became frustrated and had a modified curriculum to ensure he’d progress academically. Teachers and parents worked together to help him succeed

4.2.1.1.1. High School: Jason picked an art-focused program while still participating in classes with his friends. Now that he is about to reach grade 12 his parents and teachers are working together to transition him to post secondary training. He has already gained a volunteer job at the theatre and looks forward to him being an active member in the working community.

5. Deconstruct the Issue

5.1. Differentiated Instruction: It is evident that both Jason’s educational institutions have provided and supported him in Differentiated Instruction through many different methods. In elementary school he had support through a school learning resource teacher as well as educational assistants. His teacher also works closely with the parents to ensure the modifications the school has made are working properly, the teacher has also modified the curriculum to ensure Jason was progressing academically. As Jason entered high school, he was provided with more opportunity and choice to explore and thrive through his interests. His high school integrated job coaches to help young adults become active members of the community, which Jason benefitted from. Jason has been given opportunities through volunteering and part time employment that allow for his transition from high school into postsecondary a little easier, these positions benefit Jason now as well as later into adulthood.

5.1.1. Special Education Policy:The Education Act requires that the Ministry of Education has to ensure the appropriate special education programs and services are provided for exceptional students in accordance with the Act and regulations. School boards must implement appropriate special education programs and services without payment or fees by parents/guardians in Ontario. A special education program is an educational program that is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation that includes a plan containing special objectives and an outline of educational services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil. it is evident that both of Jason's schools provided Jason with the appropriate services that included special objectives for him specifically. Jason was offered full opportunities based upon his exceptionality in which bettered his overall life.

5.1.1.1. Bill 82: -All students with special needs accepted into Ontario schools and provided programming and services -Every School Board must have: Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC); Special Education Plan; Procedures for identification of students’ needs -To require school boards to implement procedures for the early and ongoing identification of the learning abilities and needs of students. This is evident for Jason since he has a resource teacher and educational assistant while also working with a modified program.

5.1.1.1.1. -Universal Design for Learning (UDL) : is improved access for persons with disabilities and is improved access for all. Teachers plan with the academic, social, physical, intellectual needs of all students in mind. It also provides access to the curriculum for ALL students through teachers designing appropriate products and environments. 5 Concepts (universality & equity, flexibility & inclusiveness, appropriate space, simplicity and safety). This relates to Jason's Case because his teachers have continuously kept his needs in mind such as putting him in a fine-arts program where he is passionate about drama and can excel in this environment.

6. Teacher Perspective: Jessica Bast

6.1. Significance: Jason's case is important to me as his teacher to ensure that he succeeds both in school and outside of it. I never want one of my students to feel like they are different or that they don't belong for their exceptionality. So as his current teacher, I want to ensure that he feels confident entering his final year of high school and to help him succeed in post-secondary.

6.2. As his grade 11 teacher, I am feeling fairly confident that Jason will succeed this year and with his upcoming transition due to his unconditional support from his parents and school system. The only concern that I have for Jason is about him shifting away from his old friends however I am proud that he is forming new friendships that have similar passions like him.

6.3. One strategy as his new teacher will be to ensure that he is provided with the same proper accommodations as previously. For example, as an accommodation I want to ensure that he has human support. This may be working one on one with him during spare time or him working with his resource teacher to provide aid during course lessons.

6.3.1. Through applying Universal Design for learning I will ensure to keep Jason's emotional, physical, environmental, intellectual and academic needs are in mind. For example, I can implement the concept of "flexibility and inclusiveness" in regard to his academics by ensuring that I provide appropriate modifications and differentiated instruction so he can progress academically. Additionally, through checking in on his mental well-being- it will allow me to be flexible if an issue or conflict arises. This way I can be flexible in addressing the problem while ensuring that he feels safe and a sense of belonging in our classroom.

6.3.1.1. When preparing for Jason's final year and his upcoming transition, I can help him find resources for post-secondary. As his teacher I will him establish modifications through reflecting on his skills and knowledge. An example of how I can establish this is through creating opportunities for him to explore his options for post-secondary such as giving him time during the school day to research post-secondary training or even a time where a job coach can come speak to him about his options. Moreover, in regard to our curriculum I will ensure that changes are made to the grade appropriate expectations for each subject. I know that he excels in drama and other art subjects but in regard to other subjects I will refer to his IEP and resource teacher to ensure that proper modifications are made.

6.3.1.1.1. I have also reviewed my role under the student education policy as a strategy to ensure that I am helping Jason succeed. As an educator is it my duty to follow the duties highlighted under the act. However, I will also stay connected to his special education teacher to stay up to date on special education practices. I will also meet with the Principal and his parents to make sure his IEP is reviewed and accommodated. By doing this I am noting that he is an exceptional learner in my class under his IEP.

7. Student perspective: Olivia

8. Parent Perspective: Rebekah Wilkinson

8.1. We are very happy that Jason has made close friends with the drama crew. We think that Jason finally feels apart of a group that support him as well as people he can relate to. We are grateful that we can work closely with the school staff about Jason's transition to grade 12, however we are unsure of the outcome for when it is time for Jason to attend Post-Secondary. As we have mentioned, we do not want Jason to entirely depend on the help from others, if Jason continues to stay at this school we would like to work with the teacher and school staff to ensure Jason can be taught how to be as much of an independent student that his exceptionality will allow him to be.

8.1.1. We would like Jason to stay in his current school until the age of 21. We realize that Jason is thriving in his current setting and we are asking that the school board continues to work along with us as they have been. Having a child who has down syndrome can be very joyful as well as overwhelming and we do not want to have Jason feel as if he doesn't belong, that was one of our biggest concerns. That is one of the main reasons we would like Jason to stay at his current school because Jason has been provided with beneficial volunteer as well as employment experience. As any parent, we are nervous for this transition but we believe the school board has supported Jason greatly. We are nervous for after school when he begins to work, however we will constantly support him. We hope that Jason continues to enjoy theatre and production, however if Jason were to ever begin to drift away from this passion it might be hard to start all over again.

8.1.2. We would appreciate through modification and differentiated instruction that Jason be taught life skills during his extension at school. Apart from what we can teach Jason at home, we would like it to be reciprocated in his classroom in order for his routine to not extremely differ. As Jason is becoming older, especially by the time he reaches the age of 21, we are trying to teach Jason life skills and tasks - would it be justifiable for Jason to be taught about budget in math? furthermore, we will also be joining local Down Syndrome support groups that can further help with life style.