Kelli Bruemmer – American Federation for Children

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We are a law enforcement family, and one of the things my husband and I have always been passionate about, even before we got married, is raising money for Special Olympics Oklahoma. We believe deeply in supporting those with physical and cognitive differences, so we enrolled our daughter Maevyn in Special Care at a very young age.

Special Care is an accredited daycare and private school that serves many children with special needs. About two-thirds of Maevyn’s classmates had some sort of diagnosed special need, while the rest were considered “typically developing” children. We fell in love with the school immediately and the impact it would have on Maevyn. She was learning that it wasn’t “weird” to have a friend in a wheelchair, with leg braces, or who didn’t talk a lot. Everyone is different, and everyone is special.

When she was four and a half years old, Maevyn was diagnosed with autism and expressive/receptive language disorder. On the one hand, the news was devastating. You never want your child to have any extra difficulties or challenges. On the other hand, though, we were already in the perfect place! Special Care has an autism clinic, and we were already working with the therapists and teachers there, so we knew she was in great hands. The school also has a great staff-to-student ratio, so we knew Maevyn was getting a lot of special attention.

Prior to Maevyn’s diagnosis, we were paying for Special Care totally out-of-pocket. It was expensive, but we made it work. When Maevyn was diagnosed with autism, that allowed us to apply for and receive a Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship, a state-backed program for parents of kids with special needs. That financial support was a big deal because we had a lot of additional costs for therapy and medication related to autism treatment.

Maevyn is nine now, so she has moved on from Special Care. The best fit we have found for her currently is a public school in an area of Oklahoma City called Nichols Hills. We don’t live in Nichols Hills, but we were able to transfer because of her unique needs, as well as the state’s open transfer laws (although the process was rather cumbersome). Moving forward, I am hoping to find a private school option in middle school and high school that can cater to Maevyn’s unique learning style. The Henry Scholarship program will certainly be part of that equation if we are able to find the right school.

Overall, our ability to find schools that are the right fit for Maevyn continues to be enormously important to her development. I hope the state and the school district do everything in their power to give parents like us as many options as possible.

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