Already a queen – By Mary Ann Redeker firstname.lastname@example.org
Emporia High School senior Lydia Scott may be crossing another item off her bucket list Friday evening.
Scott, nominated by her peers for Homecoming queen, said becoming queen was something she has always dreamed about. Barb Scott, Lydia’s mother, said the honor of being chosen as a Homecoming queen candidate was extra special for her daughter, as she has special needs.
“I made a bucket list and this is something I’ve always wanted,” Lydia Scott said. “It’s my last semester at Emporia High so this was my last chance. That’s why I wanted to be a candidate so bad — so I could leave school knowing I had completed one of my goals.”
Other items on that bucket list include going to Dollywood and Disney World, however Scott said, right now, just being chosen as a candidate was an awesome thing.
“The seniors picked me,” she said. “I felt so happy when I was nominated. I told my mom, ‘I might be nominated for Homecoming queen.’ Then it happened. I am so excited for this!”
“Lydia has fetal alcohol syndrome and some autistic tendencies,” Barb Scott said. “This means so much to her. We’ve had Lydia since she was not quite five months old when we were her foster parents. We were able to adopt her when she was about 2-and-a-half years old. Her head was flat on the left side and she has slight scoliosis — it’s not progressive. She had to wear DOC Bands and helmets for the period of right after we got her until about the age of 2. That helped a lot. Life has been very challenging for Lydia.”
Barb Scott said she will always remember the day Lydia was named as a candidate by her peers.
“Lydia asked me to come to school for the announcement,” Barb Scott said. “They had an assembly and that’s when they announced it. I was sitting with Lydia’s special education teacher. They said they were going to announce the names of the Homecoming candidates and Lydia’s name was the first one. All of the kids cheered and clapped, and it was a very special moment. It meant so much to Lydia and to me. To be able to see her reaction and share her joy, was a beautiful thing.”
Barb Scott said even though life has been challenging for her daughter, she tries to find ways to meet those challenges.
“Lydia’s come a long way,” Barb Scott said. “She is a good role model for special kids. We lived in Council Grove when she was in eighth grade and for her graduation, she sang ‘Amazing Grace,’ as part of the talent program. As a parent I was concerned about how that was going to go, but it was very well-received. She did the same thing at Emporia High last spring for the spring concert. The neat thing about that was — the kids were very supportive, clapping and cheering for her.”
Barb Scott said big events like those tend to be challenging for her daughter.
“Some of Lydia’s weaknesses are she likes to talk a lot and she is impulsive,” Barb Scott said. “When she is done with a big event like that and she just can’t stay any longer, then we need to go. At the spring concert, we went out into the hallway and there was a mom there with her little boy, who had Down syndrome. He was probably 5 or 6 years old. She told us that he had been clapping and hollering for Lydia and then he came up and gave her a high five.
“Part of the problem for Lydia at Homecoming Friday evening will be the crowded areas at the football game and the loud noises. She’s going to try real hard to get through it.”
Lydia Scott said the doctors didn’t know early on if she would even be able to walk or talk.
“One of the problems I have is with my speech,” she said. “Some of the kids at school call kids who have problems like me names. It is really hard for kids who have problems. But there are those who come up to me and say, ‘Hi, Queen! I am going to vote for you.’ I had a boy ask me to Homecoming. He said, ‘Lydia, I’d be happy if you would go with me to Homecoming.’ He is a really nice guy. Most boys who know a girl has problems, won’t ask her to Homecoming. I am so happy and excited for this.”
Onward and upward
Lydia Scott will finish her studies at EHS in November and will then attend the Transitions program operated through Flint Hills Special Education Cooperative.
“Lydia will walk with the senior class in May, but she won’t actually get her high school diploma until she turns 21,” Barb Scott said. “She’ll be going into Transitions, where she will learn how to cook, clean, do laundry — things like that. They also go out to eat as a group. That’s another issue. Lydia has had sensory sensitivities since she was a baby. She is limited on the things she can eat. She is in a culinary class right now and has had some issues with some foods at school. I think this whole experience this month has been a little overwhelming for her, but it’s really gone pretty well.”
Lydia Scott said she has other goals after she completes high school.
“I want to get a job somewhere, but it’s really hard,” she said. “It will be hard for me to find the right place to work. Most jobs don’t take those with special needs.”
Barb Scott said her daughter has been an active role model for herself.
“When we moved back to Emporia — Emporia has been our home off and on through the years — Lydia had gone with a friend to Orange Leaf,” she said. “She asked if she could work there and they said, ‘Yes.’ She’s volunteered there during the peak times. She did the first year there from June to November. She also started volunteering at Salvation Army this past summer and that has gone well.”
Barb Scott said it was special when people in the Emporia community have shown support to Lydia, especially with the Homecoming nomination.
“I want to thank those who had a part in this,” Barb Scott said. “Blair Meyer, who is a cheerleader at the school, was instrumental in helping Lydia achieve her dream. I’m not sure exactly what she did, but the entire class unanimously voted that she become a candidate. I want to thank everyone from Britton Hart to Bill Nienstedt to Morgan Hallstrom, her special education teacher. Her other teachers have been wonderful as well.
“It’s always a learning experience for the mainstream classes in how to get through things because Lydia likes to talk a lot. She always has a para with her and they have all done a great job. They have been very supportive and we are very appreciative for that.”
Barb Scott said she told her daughter that, win or lose, she was going to be OK.
“It’s very special to see Lydia achieve this goal she had set for herself,” she said. “She’s brave, caring, funny and spoiled — but she is willing to try to do new things, which some might feel she couldn’t achieve. When she was younger she did gymnastics at Sunflower Gymnastics, as well as being in Girl Scouts. She’s also participated in Special Olympics at different times in volleyball and cheerleading. We’re very proud of Lydia and thankful she’s our daughter.”
Lydia Scott said having a disability was challenging, but she wasn’t going to let it get her down.
“It is so hard for us who have special needs to be in school and make friends,” she said. “It’s just hard for us to do whatever. And then when there are people who bully others — it really hurts those who have problems. I want everyone to remember that.”
Lydia Scott said win or lose, she just wanted to be a role model for others with special needs.
“I just want to tell others who have special needs, that I know it’s hard for them,” she said. “It’s hard for me too, but I keep trying my hardest. They should try their hardest. Look at me — I’m trying to complete my bucket list. Pick yourself up and keep trying. I have loved being a queen candidate. I have dreams about becoming the queen.
“That’s why I want to complete my goal of becoming Homecoming queen. I can let others like me know, ‘Hey, we can go to school. We can become a king or queen. We can do whatever we want to do in life.'”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.