Charlotte Allston’s story is the kind of against the odds story motivational speakers dream of. It is the tale of taking the long road to triumph in an age of instant gratification.
Today she is a typical college student attending Briar Cliff University. That of course is if you consider a student with a double major of Fine Arts and Mathematics with a double minor in Art History and Engineering typical. Not to mention a scholarship athlete on the school’s well-regarded softball team.
You might not suspect that this bubbly and personable scholar-athlete was once a lonely girl trying to make sense of her bi-polar disorder and a debilitating skin condition that made her the object of bullying. “Elementary and middle school were tough,” she admits. “I didn’t look like everyone else. Because of my condition, kids didn’t want to talk to me or be my friend. Even when I brought in cupcakes for my birthday, no one would eat them.”
As she got older, it got worse. She was physically and emotionally bullied and ended up leaving school for a home hospital program. “I was starving myself,” she admits.
Many people would give up in the face of such cruelty but Charlotte had a good deal of courage and a strong support network. Her mother was not only her biggest fan but also an advocate who was willing to work for the accommodations her daughter needed. After years of seeking solutions, Charlotte and her mother finally found the pathway to get the accommodations she needed through special education. Charlotte qualified for IEP services that provided her all the accommodations she needed. Their story points to….
They continued to fight and eventually won all the accommodations they needed. Their story points to the power of persistence and the importance of accommodations for Special Education students.
Before they got the accommodations they needed, Charlotte was missing a lot of the information. Her bi-polar medication was making her fall asleep in class and she needed someone to help her read and write. Once she was awarded a reader and writer and given more time for assessments her progress was explosive. “I went from D’s to A’s,” she admits.
As she struggled in the classroom, Charlotte found solace in sports, and her high school softball coach was instrumental in helping her find a softball program that would recognize her talent and give her a scholarship. The transition to college was aided by the University which helped her implement a 504 plan. “As a freshman we have learning communities and schedulers who help guide us through the first year.”
How is it going so far? Alison has made the Dean’s List twice and has a position on the women’s softball team. But her biggest achievement might be her story, which serves as an inspiration for every lonely kid, with or without a disability, wondering if there is light at the end of the dark middle school tunnel. There is.