Despite My Fears, My Daughter Is Excelling at Her New School

Columnist Meagan Cheney is thrilled to see her daughter handling change well

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by Meagan Cheney |

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In August, Austen, my 7-year-old daughter with Dravet syndrome, started a new school for the second time this year.

When we moved to Texas from Colorado last winter, I put my children into the schools in our district. But over the summer, I got a job teaching for a different district, so I moved Austen and Atlas, her 9-year-old brother, to that one.

I was a little worried about how Austen would handle switching schools again. Because she has a secondary diagnosis of autism, change is difficult for her. And she’s been through a lot of it in the past year since her father and I split up.

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But to my surprise, Austen hasn’t had a hard time adjusting to her new school. In fact, she’s doing well in her new environment. She’s reading and doing addition and subtraction, and last month, she graduated from her special education classroom and entered an inclusion classroom. She was even student of the month in her class!

A few weeks ago, she had her first spelling test, and even though she was only tested on five words instead of 20, we celebrated like crazy when she scored a 93%.

Austen is doing better than I ever imagined, and she surprises me every step of the way. She decided to participate in theater instead of soccer this semester, so she’s been memorizing her lines and is excited to rehearse with her friends each week. Later this month, she’ll perform onstage for friends and family to see, and afterward, we’ll give her flowers and shower her with praise.

Although Austen doesn’t usually handle change well, she’s proven me wrong this time. Austen is thriving.

We’re not even halfway into the school year, and Austen has already come so far. I can’t wait to see where she’s at in May. She may never be on track with her peers, do algebra, or read Tolstoy, but progress is progress, and any amount of it is good in our books.

Here’s to seeing just how far Austen can go. If you give that girl an inch, she’ll sprint a mile.

Note: Dravet Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Dravet Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Dravet syndrome.


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