Maria adopted her grandson Christian when he was a toddler and she knew he was struggling in pre-K. She recognized signs of autism but after requesting testing through Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools, this diagnosis was ruled out. In first grade, however, he continued to have difficulty and this time testing revealed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Christian was given a 504 Plan (plan for children with disabilities designed to their increase academic success and access to the learning environment.) Despite the diagnosis and plan, Christian continued to struggle from first grade through seventh. Maria was referred by her church to MHA’s ParentVOICE program and was matched with a Family Partner. MHA’s Family Partner helped Maria understand Christian’s rights within the education system and how to document her interactions with the school. While he was in middle school, Maria documented 123 phone calls to school personnel.
Maria took Christian for private testing with a neurologist and finally, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Christian received a new Individualized Education Plan and passed to 8th grade.
Christian’s grades in 8th grade improved to A-Cs and now he’s a freshman at Phillip O. Berry High School. Maria is feeling much more hopeful about Christian’s future, thanks to all she learned through ParentVOICE and her Family Partner’s encouragement to persevere.
Maria said, “Without my Family Partner, I wouldn’t have been so brave or known what I needed to do or how to do it. She has been a life- saver to me. She was responsive to texts and emails anytime I had questions.”
Learn more about MHA’s ParentVOICE Family Support program.