This Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Down Syndrome Victoria and nib foundation have launched a series of online resources and support workshops that help parents of a child with this genetic condition navigate the often overwhelming education system.
As one of the world's most common genetic disabilities, Down syndrome occurs in one of every 700-900 births in all countries.
The nib foundation funded education resource series aims to provide information and advice that better prepares parents of a child with Down syndrome for all stages of their child’s schooling. It covers a range of topics, including choosing an appropriate school, understanding the funding options available, tips to surviving the school years and planning for a future beyond school.
Down Syndrome Victoria Executive Officer, Sue O'Riley, said the process of selecting appropriate education options for children with Down syndrome can be challenging, especially when it comes to accessing funding and deciding between the different school systems and special education options available.
"For a parent these life stages are often extremely stressful. With the right advice and information, we are aiming to make this process more positive and ultimately lead to a more constructive school experience for all involved," Ms O’Riley said.
"The new online resource series provides Victorian-specific information on schooling options and funding availability. We’re also in the process of offering support workshops across both regional and metro areas of the state, which allows parents the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and develop peer support relationships," she added.
Workshops have already been rolled out to communities in Bendigo and Warrnambool, with the first Surviving the School Years workshop on offer for residents of Melbourne early next month.
nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, reinforced the effectiveness of the resource guides coupled with support workshops in helping parents feel more confident when tackling the education system.
"For any parent, a child’s transition through the various stages of school can be difficult at times, but for the carers of a child with Down syndrome there are added factors that make this process much more complex," said Ms Tribe.
"We are proud to work alongside the state’s peak membership organisation supporting people with Down syndrome to assist families better manage these important life stages and build their child’s health, resilience and wellbeing," she said.
Resources covering the transition to primary school, transition to highschool and planning for life beyond school, are currently available online at Down Syndrome Victoria's website. An additional resource, My Future My Choices, is due to be released by the end of the month.
For more information and to register your interest for the upcoming Surviving the School Years workshop being held at the Down Syndrome Victoria offices in Abbotsford on Satursday, 5 November 2016 visit http://www.downsyndromevictoria.org.au .