Canada is where Jennifer Angele lives. Sawyer, her little boy, had a terrible thing happen to him recently. He was the only person in his class who wasn’t invited to a friend’s birthday party. We all remember what it was like as kids to be different from everyone else.
And Jennifer chose to defend her son. She wrote a letter to the parents of the birthday boy and put it on her Facebook page. Do you think she was happy? Maybe. But the situation is made worse by the fact that Savier was born with Down syndrome, and his mother has to see how people are always trying to push him to the sidelines. In a letter to Jennifer, he said, “I completely understand that this is not a mistake but a choice on your part.”
Parents asked the whole class, which is 22 people, to come to the party. And only Savier didn’t get an invite, which of course everyone found out right away. The mother said that her son had never had a problem with a classmate. He tries to be friends with everyone because he is a kind boy. So, Jennifer is sure that the boy wasn’t invited to the party because he is different from the others.
The woman is well aware that many people don’t know what to do when they are around her son. “I know that if you knew a little more about people with Down syndrome, you wouldn’t make such a decision,” she wrote.
In her letter, the woman talks about how she had trouble raising her son at first because no one could tell her how to do it. She heard only stereotypes from the people around her, who were sure that the boy would never be “normal.” She was very worried that her son would never be able to talk to other kids.
But all of her worries went away when she saw how easy it was for Savier to talk to his brother and sister. In her letter, she tried to explain that her son was just like any other kid, even though he sometimes did strange things:
“People with Down syndrome see life just like the rest of us. They want to make good friends and talk to each other. They want to help people and get something out of life. They want to go to the birthdays of their classmates.”
Jennifer asked the parents of a classmate’s son to talk to him. “Every parent wants his or her child to have friends and not be an outcast,” she said. And to do this, we must show our kids how to make the right choice, and we must give them the desire to do so.” The woman is sure that if the boys get to know each other better, they will be able to become friends.
Before, Savier was almost never invited to birthday parties. And my mother started to think that she was to blame. The boy goes to a regular class and doesn’t need any special treatment, so his mother has never asked his teachers or classmates’ parents to treat him differently. “I know that parents of kids with Down syndrome often talk about their kids at parent-teacher meetings before sending them to school.
But I didn’t. My Savier was always just a normal kid to me, and I didn’t feel like I needed to teach people about Down’s syndrome because I thought they already knew enough. I was wrong, though. Now I feel like I’ve disappointed my son.” Jennifer wishes she had talked to the parents of her classmates sooner.
Maybe then she wouldn’t have to defend her son in front of other people. She didn’t name anyone in her letter, of course. But people who knew each other could easily figure out who this message was for. People from all over the world read this letter and helped get the word out. A few days later, Jennifer told me that the parents of a classmate talked to their son right away after hearing her plea.
So, Savier got a special invite to a birthday party, which made him the happiest boy in the world right away. “He talks about it all the time,” Mom wrote. Savier Angele is not the only child who has shown that kids with Down syndrome can go to a regular school and do well.
Many people will think that what Jennifer Angela did was bad. The woman seemed to have broken an unspoken rule by pointing out in public how unfairly her son was being treated. She wasn’t afraid to break the silence or talk about something uncomfortable, even though she knew that silence is like an unbreakable wall that makes thousands of people around the world feel like they don’t belong.