chapter  12
Where we are, where we would like to be, and (perhaps) how we get there
Pages 8

This book emerged from a desire to collect in one place what we know about educating learners with Down syndrome that has been gleaned from research and decades of learning from practice by parents, teachers, and other professionals. And what an exciting time this is to be undertaking such a task. In most countries, babies born with Down syndrome can expect to live long, healthy, and fulfilling lives with opportunities for inclusion in education, community life, and employment. Education is the mechanism by which much of the preparation for high quality of life in adulthood is achieved. This book was developed by a group of researchers from the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Down Syndrome Special Interest Research Group. It was considered timely to collate research findings, identify promising practices, and recommend strategies for educating students with Down syndrome. The chapters provide rich insights into what is currently known about learners with Down syndrome across a range of areas. They offer advice for practitioners and give future directions for researchers. In this final chapter, we will bring together some key issues arising from current practice, highlight areas of continued research need, and focus on future implications. Throughout this book, the joys and challenges of educating people with Down syndrome are evident. We, along with the authors of chapters, take the view that Down syndrome is not a problem to be fixed. There are similarities and differences when learners are compared with those without Down syndrome and some of the differences can be challenging at times. It is important to acknowledge the complexities that are involved in any educational endeavour and these may be multiplied when students with intellectual disabilities are involved. A number of authors have cautioned about simple solutions or claims of interventions that provide an “answer” to the education of learners with Down syndrome. It will be challenging for the teacher, the parent, and others involved, but for many, it can be some of the best teaching experiences they have. It is also acknowledged by many authors that, as with more typically developing children, each learner with Down syndrome is distinctive. There is considerable variation in ability, interest, and context. The people with Down syndrome who introduced this book and who have the final word in the epilogue are testament to this variation. We hope you have the opportunity to meet many other people with Down syndrome. We acknowledge the value of highlighting relative strengths and weaknesses related to the syndrome for the purposes of enhancing education but warn against this providing a specific “recipe” for the educator to use. In extending the metaphor, we would argue that there is a range of ingredients necessary but the skilled practitioner can use these to create the best outcome for the learner.