After years of horrifying abuse and neglect in the foster care system, 11-year-old Kay arrived at The Laradon School with intense behavioral issues. Her developmental disability and history of trauma deprived her of academic progress and left her unable to read. In her initial months at Laradon — a Daniels Fund grantee — Kay received individual, allday instruction to help her acclimate to the school setting. Laradon’s specialized team of teachers, administrators, speech-language pathologists, therapists, and support staff enabled Kay to take charge of her education and her emotions.
It soon became possible to integrate Kay into a classroom with other students. After months of focused work, another breakthrough — Kay independently decoded a three-letter word. “B-I-G… Big!” She smiled, realizing that she was reading for the first time. Kay’s teacher remembers her shouting with joy, “I JUST READ THAT!” Kay’s education team found books and resources to keep her motived to read. One Laradon speech therapist created a book about Kay’s favorite pop star to encourage her engagement. Beyond academic success, Kay’s behavior has become more manageable as she has gained emotional regulation skills over the past two years.
As Kay’s reading ability grows, both her world and confidence expand. Through the program, she is pushing past abuse and neglect toward a bright, independent future.