WILLIAMSVILLE, NY (WKBW) — You might not realize many students with Down Syndrome are mainstreamed into school classrooms.
7 News checked out an inclusive classroom in the Williamsville School District that is benefiting one young student with Down Syndrome and his classmates.
“Here at Maple East — we have an inclusion classroom at every grade level,” declared Amanda Komaromi, teacher.
The classroom looks no different than any other school classroom. But it is an inclusive class where Komaromi teaches at Maple East Elementary in the Williamsville School District.
“An inclusion teacher is a teacher who has students with disabilities in our classroom along with our general education students,” Komaromi explained.
The classroom currently serves one kindergarten student with Down Syndrome.
“The second our students walk into the classroom we celebrate everyone's identity — everyone's differences and you know we learn from each other,” Komaromi noted.
Paul Mondschein is a kindergartner with Down Syndrome who attends Maple East.
His dad, Will Mondschein says he drives his son to school each morning.
“You can hear his friends screaming his name out of their parents' cars when he's walking in because he's just their buddy,” Mondschein described.
Paul's father tells me his son is thriving in this environment.
“The changes that I've seen in him and his eye contact and his listening and his speaking back and forth — initiating things — you can tell that it is a product of being in the classroom that he's in,” noted Mondschein.
“We see great benefits for the families, for the teachers and this district is really proud of our record on inclusive practices and we're always looking to do better,” remarked Bill Bohen, principal.
Maple East Principal Bohen says the district has practiced a long tradition of inclusion.
Inclusion teachers work with a special ed teacher in assisting students with disabilities.
“As a team, we're constantly communicating and working together to make sure we are doing what's best and what's appropriate for our students,” Komaromi said.
Paul's dad says a commonality among children with Down Syndrome is low muscle tone.
He says it affects his son's attention span and learning how to write because his hand is physically weaker.
Paul also has vision and hearing issues.
“He wears pretty thick glasses, so they make accommodations. He has vision therapy, but they make accommodations when they are doing say counting exercises,” Mondshein explained.
Research shows students with disabilities progress better when in classrooms with non-disabled students.
“Just being around the kids is having a really positive influence on him and I think the opposite is true. He's got a best friend. He has play dates — everybody loves walking out to the playground with him,” Mondshein responded.
“They don't see differences when we're out on the playground. They're all playing together. They find it so much fun to interact with each other and they really don't see the differences,” replied. Komaromi.