Anna was born in Russia and adopted when she was just 1 year old. We met her two weeks before her first birthday. She came home just two weeks after her first birthday. She weight just 9lbs and 13 ounces when she arrived in the United States. Anna was a failure to thrive baby. She had a heart condition, kidney disorder and tested positive for salmonella.
Two weeks after having Anna home, Early Intervention began working with her. Even though she was sick and tiny she had an unbelievable determination and curiosity. Her favorite thing was to be in physical contact with her world. She was so tiny she could fit in a large bowl filled with water or rice. She had an un-satiated desire for the tactile to meet her sensory needs. She continues to need sensory input as a young adult.
When Anna started school she had many difficulties. She attended a substantially separate preschool where she received services to address her many needs. Our family moved to a new school district as she entered kindergarten. She was placed in an inclusion model classroom as a full day student. The school wanted to advance her to first grade even though she had none of the skills necessary. We were told that tehre were other needy children coming up from preschool and that Anna had already had her year of Kindergarten. We fought to keep her in kindergarten for an additional year.
Over the years Anna struggled with school and with friends. She was placed in many programs, attended summer school and had tutors. As she entered fifth grade the school district decided they could no longer meet her needs. She was placed in a collaborative program for her middle school years. These years were plagued with emotional and social struggles. Anna was continuously misinterpreted and labeled as a “behavior issue” at times. She was not allowed out of the program to have experiences with typically peers. She desperately wanted to be like everyone else. Anna’s social interactions were limited to Girl Scouts, YMCA events and her brothers’ sporting events. She latched onto adult friendships because they were tolerant and kind to her. By the end of Middle School Anna was insistent that she wanted to go to High School.
High School was exciting for about two weeks. Anna joined the field hockey team and the track team, but it was evident that other teammates felt she held them back. She struggled with academics and felt singled out when she had to go to the special ed room or life skills class. She was very aware of how others viewed her and very much wanted to be part of the “popular group.” We began advocating for outside placement once again. By the end of her sophomore year the school district agreed once again that they could not meet her needs. It took approximately a year for the schools to agree to a school that would benefit Anna. It was not without a fight. Only after hiring a lawyer were we able to get Anna the placement she needed.
Anna is now happy, learning, and building healthy successful relationships within the support she needs.
It was a long hard fight, but well worth it.