Avery is readier than ever to go back to school!
After missing most of her grade one year due to brain surgery, Avery’s parents and school are working together to prepare for the year ahead!
Last year, when Avery was six years old, she was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s Encephalitis, a rare autoimmune disease. For Avery, it meant constant seizures and the shrinking of the left side of her brain. Once diagnosed, her doctors at SickKids recommended a hemispherectomy. A few weeks following her surgery, Avery was referred to Holland Bloorview, where she stayed as an inpatient for four months.
“Thanks to all the therapies and different activities that Avery had, and the structure that Holland Bloorview offers, now she has a lot more movement on the right side of her body. Now she is able to walk and able to talk and communicate,” said her dad Norman.
Now that Avery is an outpatient, the family is getting ready to return to school this fall. While Avery has hit major milestones in her recovery, missing half of the last school year means she’s not quite at her grade level.
This year she’ll have extra academic support along with other accommodations surrounding her disability. To ensure Avery’s success, her parents and educators are working together to co-create a plan that prioritizes inclusion and accessibility.
“Avery's ‘school family’ has been so amazing” said Norman. “When we first notified them about the brain surgery, they showed compassion and understanding. We received get-well cards, letters, and gifts from the school staff. Avery's grade one class also made some beautiful artwork. It all really lifted her spirits and helped her feel connected to her school while she was recovering. My wife and I are extremely grateful for all the love and kindness from Avery's school.”
Norman said the school did a great job including the family in some end-of-year activities. “Once she was discharged [from Holland Bloorview], we went to the Walk for Wellness, a trip to the Toronto Zoo, the Egg Drop challenge, and more.”
Norman was so happy to share how accommodating and thoughtful Avery’s school has been in preparing for the upcoming year.
The Bloorview School Authority (BSA), the TDSB school attached to Holland Bloorview, has also been integral in helping to plan for September. The BSA has been in contact with Avery’s homeschool about her independent learning plan, so she can rejoin her classmates for grade two.
When Avery goes back to school a few things will look a little different. Drop off and pickup; wheelchair parking; front-of-the-class seating; accessible seating in the lunchroom; emergency medication plans; and an accessible washroom are all ways the school is adapting to ensure Avery has an accessible school environment.
“It's nice to see everyone on the same page, working and learning together. Avery loves school, and it's great that she'll be able to continue her education with her fellow classmates,” said Norman. While Avery’s dad is so grateful for the support the family has received from his daughter’s school, he knows this isn’t the case for all kids with disabilities.
Avery’s parents and school demonstrate how including kids with disabilities in the classroom isn’t hard. It just takes some adjustments and honest and open communication. Since Avery’s diagnosis, her school has been nothing but supportive of the family - just the way it should be!