Addie suffered a hemorrhagic stroke as an infant, which left her with weakness on one side of her body. Now 10 years old, Addie has become an expert in dealing with the lasting impact of her stroke while navigating daily life as a fifth grader.
She receives some academic support in class, and daily physical and occupational therapy sessions during school hours so she can receive the ongoing therapy that helps her get stronger.
Addie shared her experiences managing symptoms of her stroke during school, explaining how she overcomes challenges, and offering some advice to other stroke survivors.
- Fitting in at school. “It’s hard to fit in at recess sometimes because I can’t do things like the monkey bars or run really fast. But there are some things I’m good at, like jump rope and kick ball. My PT made sure there were jump ropes at recess so I had something fun to do with my friends. One time, a new girl invited me on the monkey bars. I said, ‘I can’t do the monkey bars because I use one hand.’ She asked, ‘Can you do anything with one hand?’ It hurt my feelings but later we became friends.”
- Explaining your stroke to other kids. “I don’t mind when kids ask me about my DAFO (dynamic ankle-foot orthosis, a thin, flexible brace) or arm or anything, as long as they’re not mean. I just tell them that my DAFO helps my leg work better. Sometimes I tell them that I had a stroke and it left a boo-boo on a part of my brain.”
- Missing class for PT and OT. “I like getting OT and PT at school most of the time. Sometimes I miss a boring subject, but once in a while I miss something fun in class. It’s hard work and some things take a long time to learn, like I’m still learning to tie my shoelaces with one hand. My therapists try to make it fun and they ask me which goals I want to work on.”
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. “I learned to not be afraid to ask for help when I need it. When someone tries to help and I don’t need it, I just say, ‘No thanks, I can do it on my own.’”
- Finding strength in being yourself. “My advice for other kids who are stroke survivors is that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. Try to be yourself and talk to other people and you’ll make friends. If you put all your strengths together, you can accomplish anything.”
Originally published: January 2016 in Stroke Notes