Here's one point of view from Life As We Know It about "The Slippery Slope of Special Treatment." Reading this situation, I definitely don't want my child given special treatment just because she has Down syndrome. I don't want her given a place on a team, so she can sit on a bench, just because she has a disability, and they want to be nice. As her mom, I would steer her a different way.
And then there's the recent story of The Basketball Video Gone Viral talked about here on the Huff Post. Also talked about here on With a Little Moxie.
Here's the video if you haven't seen it:
I just don't see this situation the same as the other scenario above. If you watch the video, you would see that Mitchell's (the player with the disability) skills clearly were not equal with those on the team, but he wasn't on the team. He wasn't placed on the team as a pity spot. He loved basketball. He wanted to be a part of it, even though his skills weren't on a level to play, so he was the manager. I played high school soccer, and the person who was our manager was always someone who loved soccer, but wasn't good enough to be on the team. You might say, Well, they just gave a him a jersey and put him on the court for the last game out of pity. Did they? Or was it that he loved the game and had worked his butt off all season helping the team, and they wanted to do this for him. Is that so horrible. I don't feel like it is. And as far as the player on the opposing team passing him the ball so he could score. You can just listen to what he says,"I was raised to treat others the way I want to be treated." If I could ensure that kids with that attitude would be the ones to surround my daugther as she grows up, I'll take it. When you play a sport on a team, there is a level of comradery and a sense of family for your teammates. And I believe that is where the player from the opposing team was coming from.
You can read what Jenny thinks about the subject over at Our Little Chilli Tribe.
Another type of story that is mentioned are the ones about someone with Down syndrome voted as homecoming queen. With this type of story, we have to keep in mind that the decision for who will be homecoming queen is up to a group of high school students. Kids at an age where they are more concerned about being popular than most other things. So is this a case of pity vote? That's for each person to decide for themselves, but I'm going to say no. When I was in high school, I never had a person with a disability in any of my classes. I don't even remember seeing any students with Down syndrome or other disabilities. You want to know why? Because they weren't around for me to see. They were in the Special Ed classes, separated from the rest of the student body. No one ever would have thought to nominate a person with a disability onto the homecoming court. But at this school, the female student interviewed comments on how Mariah (the student with Down syndrome) was in one of her classes, and she enjoyed how friendly Mariah was. So the students liked her, and they voted her homecoming queen. The news does a good job of making it into a feel-good story, but does that mean we should read into this as some type of special treatment or pity vote. They weren't honoring her for a skill she didn't have. Homecoming queen is a popularity contest, and enough students liked this girl that they wanted to vote for her. That's it as far as I'm concerned.
As a parent of a child with special needs, I have found that I am more skeptical of things than I used to be. If someone looks twice at Kamdyn, I wonder why. Are they looking, because they know someone with Down syndrome? Are they looking, because they think she's different? Are they looking, because they think she's cute? But I also can't live my life like that. I can't be looking over my shoulder all the time wondering what people's intentions are. I understand those that feel that these people wouldn't be doing this if the person wasn't disabled in some way, and they want to be treated or their child treated as anyone else would be, no more, no less, no special treatment. But I can't always be asking the question: would they do that or act that way if she didn't have a disability? because she does have a disability. If there's one thing that world needs more of, it's kindness. And if Kamdyn can bring that out of people, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
I still want Kamdyn to have to work for her accomplishments. I don't want her to learn that she gets special treatment, because she has a disability. But if a group of students likes her and wants to vote her homecoming queen, go for it. And if she works her butt off helping a team as manager, and they want to show their appreciation by putting her in a game, go for it.
If you have an opinion on this, even if it's the opposite of mine, feel free to comment.