Parent’s Perspective: Barnett’s Journey

By MDE School   |   June 20, 2024

Special Needs Child Suc eeds at MDE School
Special Needs Child Suc eeds at MDE School


My husband Andrew and I are proud parents to an amazing little six-year-old boy, Barnett. Barnett’s entire life journey has been one of defying odds.

Our son Barnett was born prematurely at 28 weeks via emergency c-section as a result of my placenta abrupting. Barnett had a traumatic birth and suffered two grade 4 brain bleeds, kidney injury, and HIE. He had to be resuscitated twice during birth and scored a 0 on his Apgar test. Doctors told us that his chance of survival was slim, and if he did survive, he would never be able to walk, talk, or be independent. We spent the next four months in the NICU, wondering if and when we would ever be able to bring our son home.

Well, that day finally came, and I remember looking at my husband with excitement and fear. We were first-time parents of a medically fragile baby. We knew nothing about the special needs community. We had no friends or family who were part of the community. Regardless of all the specialists Barnett was seeing, none of them had a one-stop shop to answer our lingering questions about how to best care for our son. But let’s be honest, even for neurotypical children, there is no one-stop shop for parenting. Parenting is a maze we all walk through, trying different directions and turns until we figure it out. However, parenting a special needs child is like finding your way through a maze in the dark, bumping into walls, and chasing fireflies of light in hopes of finding your way through. Well, MDE School has been one of the biggest fireflies we chased, and we could not be more grateful for the light and hope it has brought to our family.

Before MDE, Barnett was in the special education program in the public school system. The first year was a great experience, but we started having some serious concerns by our second year. The first concern was his teacher removing all educational goals from his IEP. She told us it wasn’t realistic for Barnett to have educational goals because he could not meet them. We knew she was discounting what Barnett was capable of.

A few months into the second year, we noticed a change in Barnett’s behavior. He wasn’t happy anymore when we dropped him off at school. He would cry his heart out every day. Our son is nonverbal, so we didn’t know why he was suddenly so unhappy. All we knew was that his teacher was sending home negative reports almost daily, saying Barnett was uncooperative and whiney.

Our final straw was when Barnett started coming home with unexplainable injuries. The worst was when he came home with a black eye that no one at the school could tell us how he got. We knew we needed to change course, but we weren’t sure what that would look like. I joined special needs Facebook groups and scoured online forums. This search process brought me to MDE School.

We had no idea a school like MDE existed; a special education school where our son could get a specialized curriculum tailored to his way of learning. A school that understood the importance of having a small student-to-teacher ratio. A school that could incorporate therapy services into his daily school schedule, saving us the need to pull Barnett out of school and drive him all around town for therapies.

After a tour of MDE School, we did not hesitate to enroll Barnett. I’m thrilled to report that Barnett has had his best school year ever. He is thriving and, more importantly, he is happy. Barnett loves to go to school every day. Since starting MDE, he has been able to meet the educational goals that were set for him. He has begun spelling words, walking up and down the stairs independently, completing puzzles, and communicating his wants and needs on his AAC device. Our family and friends have been blown away by Barnett’s progress in one short school year. We are forever grateful to MDE School,


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