Special Impacts

Growing up is already hard enough as it is, but going through the experience while having more difficulties than others is harder and more frustrating than one would imagine. The amount of work in an everyday task is doubled.

The students come to school everyday and go to class just like any other person would. They have homework, after-school activities and sometimes even are involved in school sports.

Teachers are able to help during the school hours, which makes it easier on the families and the students. One of those teachers is Richard Ledford, a special education teacher at Princeton High School (PHS) who helps and teaches students with difficulties.

“Each student with a disability is no different than any other student,” said Ledford. “Sure he or she might have a disability, but they also have the same wants and desires as anyone else would.”

The impact that these students have on other people’s lives are tremendous. They can completely change the way one acts or feels about things. Strong bonds are made between these people and impact both forever.

“Each of these individuals holds a special place in my heart and I enjoy knowing that I impact them through my efforts each day,” said Ledford.

It’s not just the teachers and adults that are affected by these individuals, it’s also the siblings. Frances Breidenstien, a sophomore at PHS, has a younger brother named William who has a rare epilepsy and is now handicapped. Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures over time.

“We were on vacation and my brother fell down and had a seizure,” said Breidenstien. “We had no idea what was going on so we rushed to the hospital.”

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Frances Breidenstien with brother William

The Breidenstiens had to stay in South Carolina for a month then came back and William had to spend a year in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. When he was able to come home, he wasn’t able to speak or eat. Every day he goes to school, speech therapy, physical therapy, and is also on a ketogenic diet, which is a no carb diet.

“I was nine or ten when this happened, and it was such a shock because I would never be able to talk to my brother again,” said Breidenstien.

Breidenstien isn’t the only one whose life has been changed. Graduate from class of 2014 Elayna Cleveland has a younger brother named Max who is a sophomore at PHS and has Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.

“The most frustrating thing about having a brother with special needs is having people making fun of him and not understand that he doesn’t quite understand that not everyone is his friend,” said Cleveland.

Max and his best friend and partner in crime Matt Maine are very well known. They conquer everything together and are always making new friends. These two boys have many classes together and have affected many people’s lives.

Best Friends, Matt Maine and Max Cleveland  2011
Best Friends, Matt Maine and Max Cleveland 2011

“By this happening, I have found my best friend and I now understand a lot more about other people that have special needs and how they are the friendliest people that I have ever met,” said Cleveland.

Both of these siblings have grown up with different things happening to them and have learned and changed because of it. All the people whose lives have been affected by people with special needs wish more people knew that they are still people and have the same feelings as anyone else would.

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