ShaiLyn, a 12-year-old student with Apraxia of Speech (AOS), was once told that she would “never be able to live on her own or be self-supporting” because her teachers did not think she could “learn academically.”
Despite the prediction, ShaiLyn is making daily progress, thanks to a team of educators from a well-known virtual school, an online speech language pathologist from PresenceLearning, and a persistent family. Here is her story.
In 2007, ShaiLyn and her family had just moved to Cheyenne, Wyo. and she was about to start kindergarten. Despite ShaiLyn’s lack of most verbal skills, her kindergarten teacher made valiant strides to help her learn. ShaiLyn also spent part of her school day in a special education classroom where she was taught American Sign Language to help fill the communication gap. Deemed a successful year, ShaiLyn’s family had a good outlook on their daughter’s future in the public school system.
The family’s optimism became shaky in first grade, and turned into full frustration after ShaiLyn’s second-grade year however. ShaiLyn fell behind academically because her first-grade schooling only focused on her speech and communication delays and left her academics behind. Then, when she spent most of her school day in a general education classroom during second grade, she and her teacher became frustrated because she could not complete assignments. On top of this frustration, ShaiLyn’s classmates began antagonizing her to the point where she would lose her temper and sometimes become physical.
“Things finally came to a head one day when she was in the special resource classroom and started crying and screaming, refusing to do her work,” said Linda, ShaiLyn’s mother. “During an IEP meeting shortly after the incident, the special resource teacher told us that our 8-year-old daughter would never be able to live on her own or be self-supporting because they didn’t think she could learn academically. After suggesting we put her in a special school, we decided to homeschool ShaiLyn.”
The Switch to Virtual Schooling
After extensive research about online education, ShaiLyn was enrolled in a virtual school. “When we told the special education teacher about our decision, she told us it wouldn’t work for ShaiLyn,” said Linda. “We did not let that change our minds and it turned out to be one of the best things we have ever done for her.”
The first year with the virtual school proved to be challenging. ShaiLyn was supposed to receive special education services from a local school district, but after a late and incomplete IEP, services were never provided. The following year, ShaiLyn’s virtual homeroom teacher made sure she received speech therapy three days a week for 30 minutes from the school district. Although better than no therapy, ShaiLyn’s family saw little progress. The next year, ShaiLyn received full special education services from a virtual special education teacher and started working with a new speech therapist from a different school district. Despite the increased support, ShaiLyn was still progressing slowly.
The Switch to Online Speech Therapy
Desperate to try something new, Linda spoke with ShaiLyn’s virtual special education teacher about other speech therapy options. This is when he suggested PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy. “We have been amazed with the progress ShaiLyn is making working with her online therapist Cristina,” Linda commented. “Her speech is improving faster than any of us could imagine. Cristina is an amazing therapist, and seems to know how to relate to our daughter.”
In addition to the speech therapy progress, ShaiLyn’s education as a whole has improved. Her virtual special education teacher implemented a Life Skills curriculum into her lessons and the family is seeing advancements in every aspect of learning. The virtual homeroom teacher and virtual special education teacher are working closely to make sure ShaiLyn keeps advancing. “I wish people knew about and understood virtual schooling and online speech therapy,” said Linda.
“I am just so thankful we found this way for our daughter to learn. With the help of dedicated professionals and a team-approach to learning, ShaiLyn is achieving more every day.”