Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Katelyn’s Journey, Her Way!

12/09/2016 | Published by: Becky Tarwater

Our daughter, Katelyn was born in her 25th week of gestation, weighing in at a whopping 1 lb. 13 oz. What a kid! She fought her way into this world way too soon, but then fought again to ensure her survival.  We met Katelyn at Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado in the NICU. The moment we laid eyes on her, she became a child of our hearts and our second child through adoption.

Katelyn struggled to grow and had a heart defect. At 13 months, she had to have heart surgery. She struggled to learn. Our daughter needed physical and occupational therapy in order to start catching up with her peers. She was slow to talk, but once she started at about 2 ½ years, she never stopped.

Katelyn was evaluated for Special Education and qualified to attend school right after her 3rd birthday. She was the leader of her PPCD classmates. She did so well that her teachers felt she didn’t need the program the next year.

We were moving to Texas and wanted to see what she could do on her own in a standard educational setting. Our move had us looking at private education for our youngest child. Katelyn found her home at St. Pius X. She struggled with testing (especially standardized tests), but worked harder than any other student I had ever seen. Sometimes we would insist that she take a break and go play with friends. She developed an amazing work ethic that helped her throughout her school career. 

After her 8th grade year, she went on to an all-girl Catholic high school, attending there through her junior year. She was determined to end her high school years in public school. Katelyn qualified as a student with ADHD and received Special Education support. She also had to take TAKS for the first time, having one year to pass all her exams. Math became her nemesis. One week before graduation, we received word that she had passed on her 3rd try.  

After graduation, Katelyn took a three year break from her studies and then made the decision to go on to college. Ever determined, she worked full time and went to school part time. She found the Disabilities Support Services Office at her local community college. They maintained Katelyn’s records and provided professors with her needed accommodations. She had to take four remedial math classes in order to qualify for her required college algebra. Each semester she took the next level, always maintaining an “A” average. She finally qualified to take college algebra and, of course, got her “A.”

Katelyn utilized supports throughout her years at both San Antonio College and at Texas A&M University in San Antonio. Some of the accommodations she needed were extended time for testing and testing in a small, quiet environment. Without the assistance of Disabilities Support Services, Katelyn’s college career might have been much more challenging.

In December, 2015 Katelyn graduated from Texas A&M Magna Cum Laude with a degree in education. Her solid education background, tenacious spirit and support by both Special Education and Disabilities Student Services gave her a foundation to succeed. We could not be prouder of our amazing daughter.

For more about moving on to college or other opportunities, take a look at the Transition to Adulthood section on this website.


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