getting on w/life post brain injury

$1,472 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 15 people in 25 months
On January 15th my son was in a terrible car accident that nearly took his life. He was lucky that the first responders knew which hospital to take him to and got him there in time to have emergency surgery that saved his life. He has a traumatic brain injury. He lost part of his skull, but miraculously came out of the whole thing with a bad concussion and a contusion.  He is fully functional, has all his memories and it seems like he will make a full recovery. In fact, my son submitted a research paper he wrote his first semester of college (edited between surgeries) to a national conference and won "best undergraduate research paper" and will be published in a journal.

I have set the goal currently at $5,000 so my son can go to summer school at his current college to make up some of the classes that he had to withdraw from due to the accident and traumatic brain injury. Unfortuatley it costs more to go to school in the summer because his room scholarship is not available. My immediate goal is to get him back on track with school so he can transfer into a better one sooner, rather then later.  In the future, I would love to send him to a much better school where he can be surrounded by people who love to learn.

I wrote a blog post about my son last year. It was about why the education system must be broken. I received a comment just recently (about nine months after writing the post) encouraging me to set up a gofundme page for my son. After my update of what occurred since that blog post, the commenter encouraged me even more to set up a page so that is why I have set up this page.

The education system failed him. He just wanted to be in a learning environment with like people. Had he been where he should, he would have avoided a car accident that could have killed him. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, but miraculously no brain damage. Let's finally make it right and give him the educational environment he needs and still so much desires, or at least get him back on track so he can get there soon.

I hope the commenter is right and there are people out there that will feel compelled to do something about our broken system. If you can help my son that would be great, but if not that is okay too, we will manage, we always do, but please let's try to fix this for future kids that are really passionate about learning.

After viewing the pictures please read my blog about my son and the comments below or at amyandsimonblog.com:

Highschool Graduation
9956657_1458142570.8446_funddescription.Drop off at UWG
9956657_1458142715.1516_funddescription.All A's
9956657_1458143222.4889_funddescription.Leaving for second semester
9956657_1458143685.7428_funddescription.The accident
9956657_1458143375.4675_funddescription.Hospital day 5
9956657_1458143791.2129_funddescription.The emergency surgery  staples
9956657_1458143882.8607_funddescription.Arriving home one week after accident
9956657_1458143935.8976_funddescription.Shaved the rest of his head
9956657_1458143985.1346_funddescription.
Night before second surgery 2/25
9956657_1458144033.2043_funddescription.Dented head, getting ready for new skull piece
9956657_1458144070.8066_funddescription.
Two and a half weeks after second surgery
9956657_1458144367.8861_funddescription.
What’s a mom to do?
Posted by Amy and Simon
The education system in America is broken, it must be. How is it that a child, a highly intelligent child, that just graduated high school with a true thirst for knowledge and whose main desire is to go to college to learn more, is unable go? And the reason being that, said child can’t go because the parents are new to the game, don’t have the prestigious contacts and the finances to send the child. How do we expect to build a better country if most of the people in the higher education system are there because they were told to go there, not because they want to be there?

As a parent, what do we want for our children? Ultimately we want them to be happy, right? And what do the experts say that makes up happy? Doing what we love. So it can be said that finding what you love and developing it your whole life would cause someone to have a happy life. Right? So what do you do when you have a child whose passion is learning? Well, you foster that passion like you would for the the child that has a passion for music, or soccer, or horses; you do what you can to make sure the child experiences all kinds of learning and continues to develop that passion.

This fostering of passions does not apply to only one child, but to all your children. Well, what if you have nine, like we do? Do you only do this for the first few? No, of course not. Well, at least, I thought not. But now I have to reevaluate. You see, it is my first child that has this passion for learning and now that he has graduated high school and I can’t give him the one simple thing he desires (to continue his education), I am thinking maybe we went about the whole thing wrong.

Maybe we shouldn’t have allowed him to explore his world to the extent he wanted to. Maybe we shouldn’t have let him just read the encyclopedias and dictionaries. Maybe letting him study a subject to his heart was content wasn’t a good way to go. We knew early on that this child was very intelligent. Using words well before his first birthday, singing recognizable tunes at a year, knowing his colors and counting soon after a year. By eighteen months he had over a 300 word vocabulary in two languages and had been speaking full sentences for months. I was told at that point I could easily teach him to read, but I didn’t. I waited until he decided he wanted to read. Which when he decided that, it was only a couple months before he was off and reading real books. But maybe that was the wrong approach.

Because he was so far a head and had this natural thirst for knowledge, we decided to homeschool him so he could develop this passion as far as he wanted. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do. When he took his first standardized test ever, he was not prepped or shown how to do well on it. He just took it and received a 97 battery (CAT test, 4th grade level, given at the end of what should have been 3rd grade). Maybe I should have prepared him, given him practice tests, shown him what to expect. Taught him concepts instead of letting him understand and learn them all himself.

When he asked for more formal schooling because he felt that other kids were starting to know more then he did, I found a hybrid classical school (two day a week) for him to give a try. With no formal schooling they put him in a grade based on his birthdate and a lower grade math. He did beyond well. On the Iowa testing that year he scored 13+ on all but maybe one area. He took the next year to do a few years of work so his grade would better reflect his level. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him do this. Maybe I should have let him stay where he was, or maybe I should have put him in a “real” school at this point.

Now he is ready for the high school years and we go with an accredited homeschool co-op, knowing full well, he wants to go to college so transcripts would probably be a good thing for that. He, of course, excels. His worth ethic and genuine interest in ALL of his subjects is nothing but commended by his teachers. He discovered his knack for speech writing and reciting those speeches, as well as his love of drama. The next year, the same, he continues to excel. Starts the year off with the PSAT, no prep and scores a 186. He decides at the end of the year to take the SAT so he can dual-enroll his junior year. He takes the SAT with no fancy prep course, studies for a week. Once again, as with all his standardized testing, no prep, he does well (1910 overall, 740 in writing). His junior year, he dual enrolls for science (college physics, receives an A) and designs his own English course as he continues to take classes through his accredited homeschool co-op. Starts the year with the PSAT, no prep, except for previous standardized tests, and gets just over a 200, qualifying for the National Merit Scholar honor. He applies for GHP (Governor’s Honors Program) in Communications and won at the high school level and represented our local public high school at the state competition. At the end of the year he takes the SAT again (increasing his overall to 2140, 740 now in Reading too) and a week later, with just that week to study, the ACT (31 overall, with a 36 in English).

At the beginning of his junior year he decided he wanted to attend a more intensive high school for his last year or two of high school. He had his goal set to get into one of the most prestigious in America, Philips Exeter Academy (PEA) in NH. Yes, a forty-six thousand dollar a year, high school. No he did not get in, most likely because they would have had to foot the bill, they knew very well that our family of ten (at the time) could not afford their school. But they did offer him a nearly full scholarship to attend their summer school that summer. Which we drove him to and once again he excelled. He took three classes, receiving passing grades in all and two with honors. He tried out for and received a role in the summer play and also participated in a sports program while there.

For his senior year, since PEA did not come through, we enrolled him in a local college prep high school. He signs up for four AP classes since he never had access to them before, as well as environmental science, public speaking, drama, chorus and tried to continue his weight training program on his own at school (which was stopped by the school within a few weeks unfortunately). He also decides to take two SAT subject tests at the beginning of the year (no prep, of course), one in English (710) and one in French (670) Not only did he excel in school and enjoy learning in all his classes, he also got to compete against other students from other private school in drama, chorus and model UN. He got a major role in the school play. He got to use his French for teaching kids at an international school, as well as participate in a French immersion weekend. He was inducted into the Thespian society, received an award for have over a 3.5 overall GPA. But did he graduate with honors? No. Should he have? You decide.

So here I am. I have this kid whose passion is to learn. He wants to go to college for Economics, a course he feel in love with his junior year. His love for it strengthened at Philips Exeter, where he received honors for it. He wants to work in the government, as a diplomat or what have you, and I can’t even send him to college. Although he fits the main description for most of the prestigious colleges, a true love of learning, he can not get into most of the colleges he has applied to. He can not compete with other high school graduates who have had eight or more AP classes, who are in the honor society, who have been trained to get good grades on the SAT, who have the connections and most importantly who have the MONEY. So I have to sit by and watch my son watch all his classmates from PEA and this prep school get into colleges he would like to go to and some he wouldn’t, with big scholarships that most of them don’t need and some of them DON’T EVEN CARE or appreciate. It breaks my heart to watch this.

We were so relieved when he would finally have some guidance for college, as we obviously knew nothing. The college counselor at the high school obviously didn’t know what to expect with my son’s past experiences. He didn’t get into most of the colleges he applied to and the back-up school, he still remains on the waiting list. He wanted to go out of state; we were not told that would be nearly impossible to afford, so the colleges he did get in to are impossible to send him to. A $36,000 a year scholarship doesn’t mean much for a college with a $70,000 a year cost, for example. Since completing school my son has started applying to local public and private schools, giving up his dream for an out of state liberal arts school that excels in economics. Of course, he has gotten in with no problem, but all the merit based scholarships that he would have received are gone for the public ones and the private ones are still too expensive, even with the scholarships. The Hope scholarship will cover all of tuition, yes, but tuition on a public school is a fraction of the cost of everything else. And the Hope scholarship only covers a small portion of the private schools tuition. The bill will still be over $10,000 and my son can only qualify for a $5,500 unsubsidized loan. Our only option seems to be to do a gap year and see if he can qualify at these state schools for some merit based scholarships to help reduce the cost so he can pay the rest with an unsubsidized loan. A GAP YEAR for a kid who just wants to go to school and learn, truly, that’s all he wants.

So did I go about this all wrong? Was letting him experience all ways of learning a bad thing? Should I have put my child in the school system all along? He would know how to take a test and get an even better grade. He would have all the classes his classmates had access to. He would have all the honors he deserves. His college counselor would have been better able to gauge where he could go to school. BUT would he have this genuine love of learning, the desire to really want to continue his education? That thing that all the top colleges are supposedly looking for. Or would he have the same indifference towards college as most of his classmates?

I did my best to foster his passion, is that wrong? Now what?

What’s a mom to do?

This is the response and my update to the commenter since I had written the post last year:

k**** H**** on March 14, 2016 at 9:40 am
Not sure if you went ahead with the gap year, but I suggest creating a go fund me page for him and maybe publicize it on social media. Websites like facebook or youtube are really good for things like this. Your story would sure get some people’s attention.

Reply
Amy and Simon on March 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm
You really think a gofundme would get some response? I am awful at promoting such things and at asking for money. You are welcome to try.

Here is what we ended up doing. Since he desperately was wanting to continue learning, we put him in the cheapest state school around. Since they would like to attract other such scholars to their school he was put in the honor’s college and given a scholarship from the admissions office where he agrees to be an ambassador and is essentially in the RA training program. This pays for most of his room and board. His tuition is paid for through Hope/Zell Miller scholarship because of his grades. Unfortunately, it is still not free by any means.

His first semester went really well. Not only did he receive all A’s, he also did a research project and was invited to speak at and present his research this semester at a couple of conferences, one in Las Vegas and one in NC. He learned that the professors are pretty awesome and well learned and he has lots of opportunities at the school because most of the students who go there don’t have the desire or ability to do these things. The downside is, of course being surrounded by people who don’t have his love of learning. Most don’t even care to be there at all. Not being able to feel like he fits in, as always.

Everything was looking great going into the second semester. He had interviewed an gotten a really good campus job. He started his second semester already a sophomore and signed up to complete all his prerequisites so he could start the really “fun” research level classes in the fall. During his second year he planned to get published and transfer into another better known state school for his third year. The plan was to finish up with a degree from a school with a renown program in the field he wants to study.

So a week into school and my son was in a horrible car accident. He did survive but with a traumatic brain injury. We had to withdraw him from school. He had to cancel his appearances at the conferences.

That happened January 15th. He was rushed to the hospital where they had to do emergency surgery to remove the right side of his skull. Miraculously my son did not suffer any permanent brain damage that we can see. Just a really bad concussion. He has surpassed the doctors expectations on all levels. On February 26th he went in for a second surgery to replace the part of his skull that was missing with a synthetic piece that will fuse with the rest of his skull. He is already off all prescription medication now and looking to make up all the classes he had to withdraw from over the summer. Of course scholarships are not given in the summer so we have to figure out if we can even afford that.

He has not lost his love of learning. He still just wants to be in an atmosphere of gathering knowledge. He is still the same kid despite the big Y shaped scar on the right side of his head.

I still feel really bad that he is not in a place where he feels like he fits in. If only I could have put him in a place he belonged, he would have been at school and not on the road that day in January.

Anyway, that is the update. Thanks for your kind words and please if you feel so inclined to share our story of the brokenness of the school system or even to make a page for my son to get a good education somewhere he will fit in, go for it.

Sincerely,

Amy H

Reply
k**** h**** on March 15, 2016 at 3:08 pm
I’m so shocked to hear about this. Surely it must have been very traumatic for you guys. I’m quite relieved he made it out of it, and I’m happy that this wont affect his studies or progress in school. I will surely remember this story and will share it if the topic is ever brought up in a conversation, but really consider the gofundme page idea. After hearing this bit of the story, it would totally get him some sort of recognition. Your son seems to be very special. Would hate it if he ends up settling for less than what he can do.
+ Read More
Just wanted to write a quick update. Matthew has a final to his first online class tomorrow and so far so good. He seems to be keeping on schedule and working at his normal level. This was a simple required computer class. On June 6th, he will start his more challenging math and economics courses and hopefully will continue to do well.

Last week Matthew had his follow-up EEG and the neurologist was very happy with the results. Think there is only a very small chance for seizures so does not recommend and can't foresee the need for anti-seizure meds. We also saw the eye doctor who saw no damage anywhere with the orbital fracture that Matthew had, so yay!

To top off all the good news last week, Matthew received a couple more small scholarships from UWG for the 2016-17 year. It looks as if he may have a little bit more then he had last year. We are hoping a few more come through in the next few weeks. Matthew also got a summer job and should start working soon at Chick-Fil-A.

Thank you all for your support!
+ Read More
Wow! Thanks for all who have supported my campaign. I just wanted to update all that this week we have been working on registering Matthew for summer and fall classes. His first class will be a short session on May. He is going to do that online. The doctors said that although he may feel like he is ready to go back to school, he may not be ready and he may struggle a bit. This class will be a good indicator of his readiness. As long as all is good with this class we will continue more sessions in the summer and the plan is for him to move to campus for the fall semester.
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
Be the first to leave a comment on this campaign.

$1,472 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 15 people in 25 months
Created March 16, 2016
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
$25
Anonymous
23 months ago
$100
Anonymous
24 months ago
$200
Anonymous
24 months ago
$100
Anonymous
25 months ago
$50
Anonymous
25 months ago
$277
Anonymous
25 months ago
Be the first to leave a comment on this campaign.
or
Or, use your email…
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.