TDP helps student focus on her future
Imagine struggling to learn a new concept, and then waking up tomorrow to learn it all over again.
That’s been the journey for Anna DeHond, a recent graduate of the Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES Therapeutic Day Program (TDP). And while a lack of short term memory has been a life-shaping challenge, DeHond will allow bigger pursuits to define her.
The funny, bright, charismatic young woman is an avid painter, adventurous dirt biker and aggressive kickboxer. Since coming to BOCES 2 in 2014, DeHond has grown tremendously as a student, earning Honor Roll the last two years. She graduated this June with her Career Development Occupational Studies Commencement Credential (an alternative to a traditional Regents Diploma) and attend Project SEARCH in the fall. The Monroe One BOCES program partners with Wegmans to offer an intensive year-long internship program.
“When I understand something I never thought I’d understand, I start to believe that I’m going somewhere,” DeHond said.
In truth, she has already been somewhere. And when you understand where she has been, it is amazing to consider where she is going. Just before the age of eight, DeHond was first observed having a seizure. Over the next two years, her episodes continued without doctors being able to find a way to control them, sometimes up to a dozen seizures in one day. Surgery became the answer. The surgery helped to greatly reduce DeHond’s seizures, but the result has been life changing. Her short term memory is severely limited and both her personality and learning style have been drastically altered.
She went into the surgery a dancer and cheerleader, and now she paints, kicks and rides. School was one of the biggest changes. DeHond’s diagnosis is Traumatic Brain Injury after viral illness, epilepsy and short term memory loss. A traditional route was no longer possible, and a positive attitude would take years to develop. TDP has been an educational lifeline for her.
“I wouldn’t be succeeding in life if I wasn’t here,” she said. “They understand me. They don’t judge me. I get accepted here.”
Maria Tantillo, TDP's school social worker, said her immediate goal was to help DeHond feel safe. After that, it was to make sure that she be understood as a learner.
“Her willingness to work with us has been extraordinary,” said Tantillo. “She is so brave and so strong.”
DeHond has had to work with her teachers to find new ways to hold information. Even remembering the names of teachers and classmates poses a challenge.
“I have a nickname for everyone here,” DeHond said with a laugh. “This school has made me believe I can do this, and that I’m smarter than I thought.”
DeHond has her sights set on a full and independent life. However, now she stays focused on what is right in front of her. She is especially grateful for her mother’s unwavering support, and the help of her doctors.
“I realized the other day that I will be graduating soon, at the same time I would have graduated if all this didn’t happen,” she said. “My main goal is to learn.”