Advocating for Your Kids in School
My daughter Christal was about to turn six when she blessed our home with her sweet smile and loving energy. Her big adventures in school were yet to come. She hadn’t had the advantage of preschool to give her a jumpstart because she had been busy moving from foster home to foster home. She was very excited to meet new friends. Shortly after enrollment, we discovered that she was struggling to enunciate. She was given the support of a speech therapist through initiating an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
Christal excelled in school until she hit fifth grade. During that time, she was dealing with difficult issues in counseling, and we were going through the adoption process. It was a huge blessing to work with such a supportive team of social workers, counselors and teachers. We were able to get more services to accommodate Christal’s needs.
When Christal was in the 7th grade, her doctor diagnosed her with attention deficit disorder. He prescribed Ritalin to help her maintain her focus in school. However, he also challenged her to work on building her level of concentration. He felt that she would outgrow the need for medicinal support. By the time Christal was in 9th grade, she chose to stop taking her medication. In addition, she chose to stay in all mainstream classes with her only resource being extra time for testing. Her grades never wavered. She was not labeled, she was challenged!
Christal graduated from high school in 2014 with a 3.5 GPA. After four years of AFROTC in high school, she is working toward fulfilling her goal to go into the Air Force. Her recruiter said the Air Force is the toughest branch of the military to get into. Typically, if you tell an AF recruiter that you have a diagnosis of ADD and you’ve been on Ritalin, the door immediately closes. The challenge for Christal is to get a waiver. Her recruiter said that in his entire career he had never personally processed a waiver for ADD or been willing to risk his reputation for anyone with this diagnosis. But he is working a waiver for Christal because she has the tenacity and drive to achieve her goals—thanks to the outpouring of support from the people surrounding her, always raising the bar. When we see that our children’s potential far exceeds the labels of society, they prosper. Christal hopes to be accepted into the Air Force by the end of August.