Preparing for my daughter’s standardized tests has been a dream

School staff has gone above and beyond with my daughter, who has Dravet

Meagan Cheney avatar

by Meagan Cheney |

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Austen, my 8-year-old daughter with Dravet syndrome, is in the third grade this year. That means she’ll take standardized testing for the first time.

That’s both good and bad. On the one hand, it’s amazing she’s doing well enough to take the test! On the other hand, she hasn’t reached the academic level of her peers, so her scores likely won’t be great.

As a mother, my concerns are for my child. I could’ve opted out of testing, but I think we’ll benefit from having Austen’s scores tracked. Given her autism, though, some things needed to be considered to set her up for testing success.

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I don’t think we could’ve come this far without her school’s staff. Admittedly, I’m biased, as I attended the same school system from the first grade through high school. I did my student teaching there, and I’m now a teacher there, too. But even so, I believe that everyone at the school has gone above and beyond to accommodate Austen and the unique needs that come with Dravet syndrome and autism.

As soon as I agreed to have Austen participate in the testing, the school’s staff got to work. They decided that she’d test individually with a teacher to prevent her from being distracted and from distracting others.

Then the teacher assigned to administer the test took time to ask all of Austen’s teachers and me for tips to help her be successful. Austen needs the test read to her and the allowance to provide answers verbally, which takes time. So we suggested that she be given several breaks for activities she enjoys. Lastly, we suggested the word “test” not be used, as it tends to cause her anxiety.

Last week, Austen spent a little time with the teacher who will administer the test. That teacher explained to her the fun day they’d have together, playing games, reading favorite books, and playing with kinetic sand. The result is that Austen is so excited about her special day alone with the teacher that it’s all she’s talked about for the the past week. I’m certain she’ll do her absolute best on the test.

Austen has come so far over the past few years on her Dravet syndrome journey. Having a group of people who care about my child’s success as much as I do is priceless, as it would be for any special needs parent. The school’s staff not only is on Austen’s side, but also will do whatever is needed to hold her up throughout her educational journey. It’s the type of support I’ve always prayed for and a gift I could never repay.


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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