Including Emily Everyday

Produced in 2012 (Run time 5:36)

Angela Diebolt: I worried about what other people would think and how we would be treated. I worried about people not being nice to Emily or not being nice to us. But what we've seen is exactly the opposite of what I feared. Emily actually has brought out the good in people. We learned of Emily's diagnosis after she was born, and we were surprised. Out of all the things I worried about, Down syndrome wasn't one of them.

Dave Diebolt: Our biggest fear for us was the unknown because we weren't familiar with this.

Angela Diebolt: It took a while for us to get adjusted to the new reality, but immediately Dave and I thought the same thing. We want her included in the community, we want her knowing her community and people knowing her, and we want her fully included in life.

Joy Fried: Emily is an individual like most kids where having models of normal development is very enhancing to her own development, not just from a language standpoint but from a social communications standpoint, from an interaction standpoint, from appropriate behavior and that sort of thing.

Angela Diebolt: To us that means walking to school with the kids in our neighborhood, getting to know our neighbors and shop owners along the way. We want people to know Emily and Emily to know other people in the neighborhood so they can help us and help her.

Kerry Fingerle: There is something, I guess, about Emily. She gives the best hugs out of any kid I've every babysat – easily, hands down. She's very empathetic through touching and, you know, I think it really translates through her hugs.

Joy Fried: I think the fact that they have really started to develop those community relationships very early on and continue to strengthen those is, again, only going to benefit Emily because she will see that this is kind of a normal way to interact.

Angela Diebolt: We didn't want Emily in a special education classroom because we didn't want her to learn helplessness. We wanted her to have good social examples to follow, and we wanted her to learn to function in the real world.

Sharon Goldberg: She really understands what she's to do, you know, how she's to do it, and, you know, if she's with another little girl, sometimes, you know, they'll help her with some of the words because a lot of the writing stuff is a little bit more difficult than the verbal stuff. But she understands everything you tell her.

Joy Fried: She has friends. She's invited to all the birthday parties. She learns appropriate social behavior, which will help her next year when she goes to her neighborhood school.

Dave Diebolt: Getting her into the school in which we wanted to have her at has been a challenge, but we've learned a lot from it, and she's going to be going where we want her to go and where she needs to go.

Angela Diebolt: So we fought really, really hard to have her mainstreamed, and it was a tough road.

Dave Diebolt: When you bring up the law, I believe certain administrators, the ones who don't believe in what you believe in, realize that you mean business. So once we mentioned that, which was pretty early in the process, she could not have been put in a better situation.

Joy Fried: When it comes right down to it, what makes anybody more successful in their community is their ability to be socially appropriate and to communicate in a more socially appropriate way. And I think for Emily and a lot of kids like her, that being in that mainstream environment is the best way to enable that to happen

Angela Diebolt: And so far this next year's placement has been smooth as can be. She's going to her neighborhood school with the neighborhood kids and fully included.

Dave Diebolt: She's going to school next year with her big sister, Allison. It's going to be nothing but beneficial for and also for her sister, as well.

Alison Diebolt: If they understand what she has, then they might become better friends with her. And if they really get to see her and spend more time with her, then they might understand her more.

Dave Diebolt: Allison teaches her a lot and Emily learns a ton from Allison. Allison will work with her on certain things, whether it be schoolwork or whether it be certain activities. It's a phenomenal thing to watch and be a part of.

Angela Diebolt: When she was first born, it took me a while to get used to the fact that we may have a dependent living with us for life. It just changes our image of what retirement may be. Now that Emily's grown, I understand that she very well might not want to live with me past the age of 16.

Dave Diebolt: So we want her to have the most typical life that she possibly can.

Angela Diebolt: I can picture us all being together and that being a very rich, fulfilling, wonderful life. I also have to be open to the fact that she might want her independence. She shows me that every day. She's a blessing to us. Our life is richer because of Emily. She brings us in contact with great people. We've really seen the best of the world through having Emily.

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