Lyndsey Ryan had her first seizure when she was 3 years old and was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 5. She has been able to continue her education thanks to Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA).
When Lyndsey attended brick-and-mortar school, she was often absent because of doctor appointments. She was not physically able to be sit in a classroom every day, and she had too much school work to catch up on.
She started to develop ulcers from the stress of trying to keep up in school. As she was starting to get worse, her family decided it was time to look for another education option.
In second grade, Lyndsey’s mother made the decision to enroll her at LAVCA, and they haven’t regretted their decision since. Lyndsey will be starting fifth grade this fall.
Online school has allowed Lyndsey to work at her own pace. Her teachers have supported her by giving extra time on assignments when she doesn’t feel well or when she has doctor appointments.
“We have had some amazing teachers and support staff that are understanding of not only her epilepsy, but the chronic illnesses that she has with her other diagnosis [fibromyalsia] as well,” said her mother, Ashley.
Ashley explains that LAVCA’s curriculum has pushed Lyndsey to another level. “Some teachers are the best thing that have happened to us,” she said.
The flexibility of the online environment is key for Lyndsey’s education. Sometimes she will have appointments out of town and won’t have the time to open her laptop.
“There have been times when we know there’s a week of appointments ahead of us and have done schoolwork over the weekend,” Ashley said. “Then all she has to do is watch the recordings of her classes during the week. This kind of flexibility allows Lyndsey to be successful.”
One of Lyndsey’s favorite things to do is play with her service dog, Fin. Ashley filed for a grant through the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation, and she was approved. Lyndsey was their 100th dog grant recipient! Lyndsey received the Saddleback German Sheppard when he was three months old after he was donated from a breeder.
“It’s like having a bodyguard or a big brother with you all the time,” Lyndsey said. “I don’t know what I would do without him!”
“Fin came home and has alerted us every single time she’s been sick,” Ashley said.
Lyndsey’s advice to other students with epilepsy is to always be honest with your parents and your doctors about how you feel.
“Never let the symptoms of epilepsy embarrass you,” Lyndsey said. “Eat healthy, get good sleep, and teach your friends what to do if you have a seizure. And don’t worry, everything will be OK!”
Lyndsey has some exciting events coming up this year.
On September 17, Lyndsey is hosting a 5K called “Stomp Louisiana” in her hometown to raise money and give back to the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation so they can help provide a dog grant to another family. They are hoping to “stomp out” epilepsy and Sudden Unexpected Death from Epilepsy (SUDEP).
In November, Lyndsey, Fin, and Ashley will be attending Epilepsy Awareness Day. Lyndsey was one of 11 children out of about 150 to be randomly selected in a drawing by Chelsea’s Wish to go to Disneyland in California for a week!