[A letter from Emilee's parents and one that brought tears to our eyes!]
In 1998 at age 3, Emilee was first diagnosed with Apraxia. In the fall of 2005 at age 11, we watched with great anxiety as Emilee descended into the jungle of the middle school. Her learning differences, the academics, social issues, and even being able to open her locker, were all things that kept us up at night wondering how she was ever going to survive the fall of 6th grade, let alone the whole middle school experience.
Well, through more hard work than we could have ever imagined, along with the help of some truly wonderful teachers, aids, her family, and a great (small) group of friends, not only did she survive, she THRIVED. At her 8th grade “graduation” last month, we learned that Emilee was one of only 15 students in a class of 168 to earn the President's Award for Educational Excellence for maintaining at least an “A-“ average in every subject for the entire 3 years of middle school. In addition, she was one of 4 girls nominated by her peers and teachers an award, which is given each year to the outstanding boy and girl in the 8th grade. While she was certainly not one of the more “popular” students, her peers and teachers really admired her incredible work ethic and kindness to others. Needless to say, we could not be more proud of her.
For ninth grade, Emilee will be headed to a small private school just outside of Boston. While they do not offer “services” per se, they specialize in a “multiple intelligences” approach to teaching with small class sizes and a learning center to help guide the students along. It looks like it is going to be a great fit and Emilee is very excited.
Our message to those just starting down the path with a child with CAS would be to never give up hope. While this difficult journey to “Holland” (http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html) is far from over, there are wonderful stops to enjoy along the way. You just have to watch for them, because you never know when or where they will pop up. Emilee never ceases to amaze us: from speaking when it was unclear how well she would ever speak, to riding a bike when it looked like a lost cause, to thriving in middle school, when we were worried if she would ever survive it. We are looking forward to seeing what the next four years of the journey will bring.