Eventually, we began to talk about going back to school. I was improving and would be discharged from therapy within a few weeks.
My therapists, my parents, and I met with two administrators from my high school – Mike Jeffers, who at that time was a vice-principal, and Faye Alvested, who was a school counselor.
I suppose you should understand that I was (and still am!) a geek, in every way imaginable. I was enrolled in every advanced/honors class possible. As I recall, I was taking college Calculus 101, college Physics 101, college prep English, dual high school-college credit American History, American government, elective British Literature, and Senior Journalism (which allowed me to work on the staff of our high school newspaper). In addition to the high school credits, those classes included 16 college credit hours.
When I went back to school, I wanted to return to those advanced classes. I can’t explain why. I suppose, since I’d always been an honors student, that was all I knew. I also didn’t want to quit the classes I’d already begun.
Privately, the therapists had told me that they did not think I would succeed in college, that I would be very lucky if I graduated high school. I don’t remember exactly what was said in those meetings, but I know those words were hard to shake.
When we met – myself, my parents, the therapists, Mr. Jeffers, and Ms. Alvested – the therapists strongly pushed that the only class I would take should be the American government class. Due to a change in state law, and because I’d pushed myself so hard during the first three years of high school, that was the only remaining class that was required for me to get a high school diploma. The other classes, they said, would be too hard for me, and I shouldn’t try because I would only be disappointed when I failed.
Because of the brain injury, I was now disabled, and I would need a special plan to provide for my new deficits. This would be either an IEP plan or a 504 plan. The differences between an IEP and 504 plan are complicated, but in my situation it basically came down to college. An IEP plan would end after my graduation. A 504 plan would allow me to have additional services in college.
The therapists, who needless to say felt I should not go to college, pushed for the IEP plan. Hard.
Mr. Jeffers and Ms. Alvested pushed back. I got a 504 plan.
I owe a lot to Mr. Jeffers and Ms. Alvested. They didn’t have to stick up for me. Legally speaking, they had every right to push me into taking only the American government class. They didn’t. They pushed right back against the therapists, so to speak. They suggested that I resume my class schedule, exactly as it had been, and if any of the classes became too much for me, I could visit Ms. Alvested at any time and they would give me a withdraw/pass.
The therapists didn’t like that, but there was nothing they could do about it.