Payton’s Safe Place

Payton’s Safe Place

From Samantha Bohnert

I am doing a high school project of something to positively impact the community. I have chosen to make my project to help Payton and her family. I hope you will consider donating. Any amount will help.

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When Payton turned 4, she was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder. 

 Fourth grade marked the beginning of her crippling struggle. Kids in her school were cruel to her. They called her ugly. They told her that I couldn’t love her and that I would abandon her because she was so ugly. They pushed her off slides and threatened to suffocate her. Boys would kiss her without permission. They threatened to kill Payton’s beloved sanctuary, her pet chickens. She was withdrawn, markedly frightened all the time, experiencing full-on panic attacks every single day. At one point her anxiety was so severe, she was unable to walk. It was a few weeks where my husband had to push her around in a wheelchair. It was a difficult time for the entire family.

Every time we addressed this bullying issue with the school it was met with passive demeanors and dismissive statements, like “Kids will be kids.” 

We did try working with the school, sharing with them all of the things that help Payton succeed.  But nothing seemed to work. This issue reached a climax when Payton told a teacher that things were never going to get better so she just wanted to die. The teacher asked her how she would do this. At the time she said that she didn’t know. We began receiving calls from the school telling us that Payton was trying to run out of the class room. 

One day Payton told the teacher that she decided that the solution would be that she could get hit by a car.  That day, Payton was successful. She ran out of the classroom as fast as she could, into the school’s hallway, then out of the school and onto the road. We are very fortunate that someone was able to get to her in time. That marked the turning point. We pulled Payton from this school. My mother stayed home with Payton until we could find a solution. We looked into the two private schools in town. One was unable to meet her needs, having no autistic or special needs children in their school. The other was St. John's.

By the time we came to St. Johns, I was defeated, hopeless. But we were met with calm and warm faces. They called Payton a child of God and told us that He made her perfect. I have never heard anyone call her perfect. I just cried and cried and cried some more. They wanted to help us. They wanted to help Payton. They didn’t see her as a problem. They saw her as perfect.  

Payton’s made a 180 turnaround after starting school at St. John’s. She is making friends and falling back in love with school once more. The St. John's staff are patient and kind. They don’t rush Payton and they don’t let her fall behind. She is happy. She is really, really happy.

Payton is eligible for a school tuition grant next year.  Unfortunately, because she is a mid-year school transfer, the grant needed to pay for her tuition and Para Profession teacher for the remainder of this year was declined. This means that I will have to put her back into the public-school system until this school year ends. Back to the school that almost cost us her life. I am afraid for Payton. I am afraid for all sensitive children who have to deal with bullies.

I am not one to ask for help, but I have no other choice. 

So, I am asking for your help. Please find it in your heart to share with Payton what you can so we can keep her safe and help her stay in a school that will allow her to flourish. St. Johns has given us faith and shown us what it looks like when Payton surpasses every expectation.

Thank you for taking the time to hear Payton’s story.  God bless.”

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