Making The Grade

Making The Grade

Epileptic Plainville Teen Looks to Change Attitudes

Heather's struggles with seizures started when she was just a toddler and she's endured years of special classes and physical difficulties, but she's learned to face her challenges head-on.

By Brad Drazen
|  Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012  |  Updated 2:49 PM EDT
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Epileptic Plainville Teen Looks to Change Attitudes

Getty Images / Joe Corrigan/Stringer

"I think about it, but I try not to let it control my life. We can do the same things. We want to do the same things, we just need help sometimes," Heather Saunders, 15, said.

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The hallways at Plainville High School seem no different than at any other school, but one special 10th grader is among this crowd. Heather Saunders has been coping with epilepsy nearly her entire life.

"I think about it, but I try not to let it control my life. We can do the same things. We want to do the same things, we just need help sometimes," the 15-year-old student said.

Paula Saunders said Heather's struggles with seizures started when she was just a toddler and she's endured years of special classes and physical difficulties, but she's learned to face her challenges head-on.

Special education teacher John Andros said it's pleasure to have Heather in class.

"Heather, from day one, said 'Here's my deal -- These are things that can happen and if something like this were to happen, this is how people usually deal with it,'" Andros said.

She's very engaged at school, sings in the girls' choir and plays volleyball and tennis.

"She's just so ready to do something, to help people understand that people that have seizures are no different," Paula, Heather's mother, said.

This weekend, she'll do just that. Heather has been chosen as Connecticut's lone representative at "Kids Speak Up!" a national youth conference on Epilepsy in Washington D.C.

"The conference and being selected and what it's done for her self-esteem-wise and confidence-wise is just amazing," Paula said.

Heather is dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy and making the road a little less bumpy for those who come after her.

"Some of the things I went through when I was younger weren't very nice, and I just hope it can better for other people," Heather said.

Her mom said she can do anything and for Heather that might lead her right back to these Plainville High hallways as special education teacher, working with kids who aren't so different from herself.

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