Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Challenges of Being a Student and Mom of Children with Disabilities

Being a nontraditional student with children is difficult and sometimes stressful. Imagine having children with special needs?

Leshia Scheetz, a physical therapy major, has been an on again, off again student at Vol State since 1996. She took a break from school when she got married, and later had children.
When Scheetz was 20 weeks pregnant with her daughter, three doctors told her the baby would be born a vegetable and suggested she terminate the pregnancy. Terminating the pregnancy would have been against her family's beliefs, so instead, she followed through.  
Mikayla was born with an open spine (Spina Bifida), the result is that everything below the middle part of her back is paralyzed. She has had about eight surgeries, according to her mom; the first was the day after she was born.
“Doctors didn’t give her a chance to survive,” Scheetz said. 
Turns out the doctors were wrong.
“She knows that she is different. It [Being in a wheelchair] is all that she knows,” said Scheetz. “God gives everyone a purpose and his plan for her is to be in a wheel chair.”
But the wheelchair is not slowing Mikayla down; she is now a five year-old kindergartener and cheerleader, who is full of energy and spirit.  
“I really think sometimes that she is a 15 year-old trapped inside a 5 year-old body,” said Scheetz.
“After I had her, I didn’t think that I would have another.”
But three years after having her first born, Scheetz was pregnant with her son. She was told by doctors that her son would have a condition called Trisomy 18 and the babies normally do not make it past the first year of their life.
At the time Scheetz said she thought, “How much more can I handle?”
Once again the doctors were wrong. Her son, Luke, was born deaf and now at the age of two has cochlear implants (electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is deaf).
“We want him to be able to communicate… If I can give him opportunity to live a life to the fullest, why not do that? We wanted to give him every opportunity he could get,” said Scheetz.
With a five year-old and a two year-old, her hands are full, so what would make a mom with that big a challenge come back to school?
“Since I’m older, I guess I finally need to get my life on track,” said Scheetz. She wants to be able to go back to work when her son goes to school.
“I don’t know if it would be harder if I didn’t have two kids that have disabilities, I think it is hard in general being a mom and coming back to school,” said Scheetz. “Homework is after the kids go to bed.”
Scheetz said that she studies every single night for about an hour and is in bed by 10 p.m.
“Before I had my kids, I would think, why is she acting like that?" said Scheetz. "You never know what people are going through in life. You never know what’s going on with them on a regular basis.”

3 comments:

Elizabeth Skinner-Orgeron said...

I love this story! People like Scheetz show us what the human spirit is capable of.

Christina Duke said...

I love this story and I can relate to it as well. I am a mother of two, my daughter is five and my son is four. My son is autistic. Finding time for school, and having a family is a lot, but worth it. Congrats! to all who are trying to further their education, no matter what their situation may be.

Margaret Blakemore said...

Thank you for your feedback. I am sure that Scheetz appreciates the comments as much as we do. Her story is very touching. As a mother, I can relate to coming back to school with challenges; she just illustrates that people can overcome so many obstacles that are placed in front of them. She also helps us see that we should never give up.