by Abbe Goldstein
I work with a boy named Jeffrey almost every Sunday at Or Hadash. Jeffrey is in fourth grade and has Down Syndrome. I enjoy working with Jeffrey because he poses a challenge for me, and it is good to be truly challenged every once in a while. In the beginning, he would always hit me and say things such as “I hate you!” It has been a learning experience on not just how to deal with Jeffrey’s behavior, but how to control my own behavior. I can’t yell at him, and can’t show him that he has made me upset, or it will just make him behave worse.
A completely different reason why I have enjoyed this experience is because I have learned that a lot of people with disabilities aren’t so much different from me. Jeffrey is very high functioning, and I can tell that he is smart. He is able to remember certain phrases and knows when to use them (even if these aren’t the nicest things to say). Overall, working with Jeffrey has been an enlightening experience because I have gotten to work with a child with special needs first hand, and this will give me great insight for possible future encounters with people with special needs.