Determined Eighth Grader Faces First Day Back
Autism is a challenge for 14-year-old Wendler student
ANCHORAGE - "You’re supposed to survive,” said 14-year-old Cody Marsett, staring intensely at his video game.
As the eighth grader’s fingers move the Xbox controller buttons faster than the human eye can keep up, little characters move around on the screen of his TV.
"I must do my homework when my grandma gets home and I must do it and then I can play," Cody said.
This video game is not the only thing he’ll have to survive this year.
"I'm going to stay in the class and go in them,” he said about his goal for the year at Wendler Middle School in East Anchorage.
His guardian and grandma, Starr Marsett, had hoped for a smooth start when she dropped Cody off for his first day.
“I got a phone call from the school that Cody was having a challenging day,” she said.
“He does have a full time teacher’s assistant that worked with him last year who he's not going to have this year,” said Marsett.
Cody isn’t happy about the change either.
"He was a great role model but now I have this new person and it's a challenge,” he said.
Any type of change is difficult for Cody, whose grandma said has high functioning autism.
Like many kids on Wednesday, Cody said he was both nervous and excited about starting a new grade and seeing old friends.
“They help out, they're always there for me,” said Cody.
Cody also hopes to make improvements to some of his behavioral challenges this year.
“Self control, listening and being gentle,” he said.
Starr Marsett said Wendler Middle School is supportive of Cody’s special needs, but she says more can be done throughout the district.
“With the cutbacks in the school and the teachers being asked to do more… it's hard to educate our core teachers in how to provide that special support for children with special needs” said Marsett.
“Our goal is that Cody graduates high school; not a certificate, we want a diploma that says he's graduated because we do think he's capable. I’m working closely with the school – that’s their goal as well.”