By: Madeleine Darowiche, Teens Take Charge Advisory Council Member
It’s that time of year – back to school time! Whether you are in middle school, high school, or college, starting a new school year can be stressful and even nerve-wracking. That is why I feel that it is so important to have a strong support system in your corner.
For me, my greatest support system has been my family. Even though I was too young to remember, I know that my hospitalizations were a difficult and trying time for my parents and my twin brother. No matter what, my family has been there for me every step of the way, and for that I am so thankful. From the time I was about four years old to the age of ten, I was fortunate enough to have encountered no complications with my shunt. It was not until the age of eleven that my shunt needed to be replaced. It was a tough time for my family, as we had already been dealing with a few other misfortunes, but they remained by my side through it all. It is great to know that my family will always be there to encourage me in everything that I do. Without their constant support, I never would have been able to accomplish all that I have and it has enabled me to succeed academically and personally.
The second form of support that I feel is very important, but is sometimes difficult to obtain, is the support from teachers, professors and school faculty. Having the proper support from your teachers can be a crucial factor in reaching your full potential. I am not an expert myself, but from personal experiences I do understand that some people refuse to listen. Many people have never heard of hydrocephalus because it is not as well-known as other conditions. Oftentimes teachers can be reluctant to learn. It is important to educate these people on your condition, especially if you require certain accommodations as a result of hydrocephalus and its effects.
The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) offers valuable resources to help you achieve this goal. Talking about hydrocephalus with your school faculty can be a daunting task, but once you do, you will be relieved that you did, because you tried to better your academic future. If your school faculty is not as accommodating to your condition and needs, it cannot hurt to try again. Even though the experience can be quite frustrating, never be afraid to be your own advocate. It is an important step into adulthood, no matter what age you stand up for your specific needs.
If nothing works, please know that despite this setback, you can and will find a way to succeed in your academic endeavors! Remember, family will almost always be there to support you, as will the Hydrocephalus Association and the Teens Take Charge (TTC) community!
Today, I challenge you to download the Hydrocephalus Association’s Guide for Teacher’s and Healthcare Transition Guide. Take the first step in becoming your own advocate and educating your school on hydrocephalus. It will all be worth it, and you can do it!
Good luck to everyone and have a great year!