Gina Gallagher wanted what all mothers want for their children; health and success. Katie's dreams were shattered when her daughter, Katie was sent home from kindergarten with a note from the teacher. The note read that Katie was quite lost and not on par with the other pupils. The teacher suggested that Katie is tested for possible disabilities.
Tests proved that Katie has Asperger's Syndrom, which is a highly functioning version of Autism. At the time, this news was utterly shattering for Gina. It was noticed that Katie had a visible tic, particularly that her hands tended to flap. Such tics are usually involuntary in nature and are thought to be a self-attempt at soothing oneself.
As the years went by, Katie was the victim of ridicule at school and it became even more evident to Katie that she was different than the other students. This along with her disability contributed to her having difficulty with her studies.
Doctors that she saw were not very optimistic or offered much hope in terms of a long-term prognosis for Katie. They told Gina ominous things that Katie would never be able to do such as driving, complete high school, leave her parents' home, co to university and even get married.
In their defense, doctors don't say these things to be mean, but they say it more in a way to help manage an affected parent's expectations. Regardless, the parents are usually left with a helpless feeling of impending doom.
When all hope seemed to be driven from Gina's mind by the experts, Katie received a scholarship to Willow Hill High School. WHHS is a private school for extra needs children. Katie thrived in this environment completely against what the experts predicted as Katie's fate.
Her mother soon saw that she was conditioned to thinking about Katie's situation as about what she cannot do, instead of what she can do.
Katie played sports, progressed well with her studies, made friends and even had a few boyfriends. You know, all the things a mother wishes for her child in high school.
Katie graduated from high school in 2013, despite what all of the experts told her mother. Not only did she graduate, but she also went on to attend college at Banacos Academic Center at Massachusetts Westfield State University.
This college program's curriculum is designed with tailored assistance for people with disabilities, but the knowledge and mastery requirements are exactly the same as those attending Westfield State University. Not only did Katie gain acceptance to this college, she went away to the college to live on her one -- another thing that experts said would not be in Katie's future.
To top it all off Katie eventually got her license, a car and graduated from the college with bachelors in communications. She has had a part-time job for over two years now and her age at the graduation of college is younger than the average graduation age across the nation.
Gina now shares her story of success to other parents of children given bleak prognoses in life. She says that one of the biggest mistakes that special needs parents make is forgetting to look back at how far their children have come, instead, they tend to look forward to what the experts tell them will be nothing but heartache.