A Crown and a Song: Embracing Diversity With a Homecoming Queen and Music Lover


A Crown and a Song: Embracing Diversity With a Homecoming Queen and Music Lover

     This is a blog about a girl with Down syndrome who was in my middle school class and became the high school homecoming queen. This cheerful girl knew everyone in school, loved her music and was always ready for a dance party to her favorite tunes in my class. She is a joyful girl who lights up a room with her contagious laugh. She knows everyone and everyone knows her. She likes to have the environment be on her terms, so I often let her pick what song we would dance to as a reward for completed work. She loves to be in the spotlight, is a very social girl, and to this day will remind me of the songs we played and things we said in my classroom. Read about the valuable insights these parents have to share.

Q: What is one thing you wish teachers know about your child that is not on the I.E.P.?

A: That her love of music is a great way to motivate her.

Q: Scores on tests do not define the child. What is something your child is really good at that is not reflected on tests? 

A: She has a really good memory of musical lyrics-If you give her a word, she will very quickly start singing a song that includes that word in its lyrics.


Q: How important is homework for your child? Is it just a burden, or is it a helpful learning tool? 

A: It depends on the topic. Math homework was useful. Sometimes writing or reading comprehension homework was a burden since we often weren’t sure what the appropriate expectations were.


Q: How old was your child when you first knew he/she had special needs?

A: At birth( actually, in utero)


Q: What is one piece of advice you have for someone with a newly diagnosed child?

A: It might be a different path than you had planned, but you’ll have a lot of joy and meet a whole group of families that will become your friends.


Q: What is one meal that everyone in your family likes to eat? 

A: Pizza


Q: What advice do you have for interacting with children with special needs? 

A: Take the time to figure out what works for them, whether it is repetition allowing sufficient time for the child to process your requests, or using music or some other way to interest your child.


Q: What activities do you recommend to other parents to foster self-care?

A: Try a whole bunch of activities and see what interests your child. We tried a variety of sports, dancing, and disability support groups.


Q: Are there any support groups that you recommend for parents or children?

A: For children with Down Syndrome, the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio (DSANEO) and Gigi’s Playhouse are both great. For children with disabilities in general, there are so many groups these days including Superkids Ohio(soap box derby), Sparkle Cheer ( at several high schools), The Improvaneers(improv for special needs), Empower Sports( a variety of sports), Miracle League( baseball), Integrated Community Solutions ( social activities) and of course Special Olympics.


Q: What are your favorite family activities? 

A: Going to Cav games, and visiting family and friends.


     You can tell by the parents’ response to support groups, they have many great ideas. The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio and GiGi’s Playhouse are two great support and resource-filled groups that they mentioned. They have tried many activities with their daughter to find the ones she likes. They have provided a comprehensive list of support and activity groups for parents and their children. Read their responses carefully, and you will learn ways to connect with your child. Allow sufficient time for the child to process your requests and take time to find what works for them are two valuable pieces of advice. “It might be a different path than you have planned, but you’ll have a lot of joy and meet a whole group of families that will become your friends.” This was another astute piece of advice.

     It is so interesting that you can give her a word, and she will start singing a song with that word in the lyrics. She was active as a Sparkle cheerleader and still plays Miracle League baseball and Empower Sports. She loves to stay active and thrives in a group, so being in the Improvaneers (improv for special needs) is right up her alley. She loves to perform and loves music so I can see great things for her future with this improv group.

     Joyful is a great way to describe this girl, for she is a happy person who loves to make new friends and be involved with her friends’ activities. She has more school spirit than anyone I know and is kind and loving towards others. She genuinely cares; if someone is sad or upset, she is the first to console them. She is the kind of friend everyone hopes to have.