"Success in life requires an ability to form relationships with others who make up the web of community."
Definitely true. People should know how to interact with all sorts of people. It doesn't matter their ethnicity, sexual orientation, if they have a developmental disability etc etc etc. You should know to form a relationship with them. I remember in high school, one of my teachers Mr. Hardiman was very passionate about making sure students with developmental disabilities were fairly treated. One of the remarks I remember him telling us one day when he lectured about these students was "And when I see them in the hall, I make sure I mess with them the same way I mess with all of you." He said this because he wanted us to know that he treats his students with equity. True, his pranks and such were never as elaborate as the ones he did with his "normal students" but he did have fun with them as well. From my observations, I remember Mr. Hardiman seemed to be very popular with the kids with developmental disabilities. You would never think it either, as Mr. Hardiman was an older, tough looking, and a little more conservative man. In all honesty, he looked like that stereotypical old, sit at the black board, take no shit, kind of teacher.
"If you came into the room and were told there was a retarded child
in the class, a child with special needs, I don't think you would pick
Lee out. The kids really agree that he's as capable as they are.
Intellectually the same."
Definitely. Although I'm sure kids recognize those with developmental disabilities as being "different", I'm sure they view this difference as only superficial. Kids play with everyone. I think one of the most interesting depictions of this in pop culture is in South Park. This is seen with the characters Jimmy and Timmy. Both of them have severe disabilities, yet both of them are fully accepted into the other kids circle of friends. Going even further, in the episode "Good Times with Weapons" which heavily involves the kid's fantasies imagining themselves as cliche shonen anime characters, the character Jimmy during these fantasies is shown to be on par with all of the other characters, his disability making no difference. I believe this is similar to how actual kids respond to those with differences.
"According to Shayne, the notion of Down syndrome often obscures our ability to recognize the child as a child."
Also true. Someone's handicap should not be their defining characteristic. Hence why I try to use "people first" language. There is a man with Down Syndrome that comes into where I work almost everyday. His name is Pete. I know that not only does he have Down Syndrome, but he also likes tuna sandwiches from D'Angelo's, black raspberry ice cream, basketball, and recently did the triathlon event in the Special Olympics. What I'm getting at is that having Down Syndrome is just one of the traits that makes up Pete...and he's a unique character.