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Student Profiles

A Day at the Aquarium
Justin with His Sister

"Mom, Lauren pinched me," Justin calls back to his mother. He and his little sister, Lauren, are walking arm in arm through Baltimore's Inner Harbor on their way to the National Aquarium. Just over a year ago, this trip might not have been possible. 

How one girl found herself through Kennedy Krieger's Physically Challenged Sports Program
Colbie Bratlie

Colbie Bratlie wants to be a world champion. And the odds are good that she will be because she competes in wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, track, field, archery, table tennis, and swimming. The athletic 14- year-old already seems Herculean for her stamina and determination, but when you add in that she has cerebral palsy, it truly does make her accomplishments seem superhuman.

Kennedy Krieger High School student with autism secures dream internship with NASA
Abby Reznek

There's just something about the solar system that fascinates me. It started when I was about five years old. I couldn't get enough of books and computer programs about planets, moons, and stars. I was even interested in model rockets because, in life-size form, they created a path to the great Milky Way.

But learning hasn't always been easy for me. I have autism, a developmental disability that can affect normal brain function.

That's why I attended Kennedy Krieger. I think it has the best school in the country for people with autism. 

Students find sense of belonging in Young Marines unit for kids with special needs.
Young Marines at Kennedy Krieger High School

Adolescence isn't easy it's a tough road filled with all sorts of risky possibilities, from school failure and conflict with parents to more dangerous threats like involvement in drugs and gangs. For teens with developmental disabilities, the path to adulthood can be even more difficult, with a greater chance of picking up destructive habits or falling in with the wrong crowd.

Determined Young Woman Refuses to Let Cerebral Palsy Conquer Her Dreams
Liza Patchel and Her Mom

Liza Patchel has grown used to being told of the many things she will never do. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, doctors said she would never speak or walk. When she enrolled in public school, administrators said she would never play for their sports teams. Even as she studied her way to good grades, "experts" told Liza that she would never go to college.

Now 23, Liza clearly enjoys proving people wrong, relishing opportunities to tell her story in the slow, but painstakingly clear, speech that many doubted she would ever develop.

Teenager Joins Elite Athletes from Across the Globe at Athens Paralympics
Racing to Victory

For those who wonder if childhood adversity really can inspire remarkable achievements, look no further than Tatyana McFadden. 

High School Student Shines in Demanding Museum Job
Seth Jackson

It seemed like a perfect opportunity: a work-based internship at a highly regarded children's museum. Chosen students would perform administrative tasks, prepare supplies for crafts projects and, most importantly, help children and families visiting the museum make their way through a variety of exciting exhibits.

Unique Work-Based Learning program of the Career and Technology Center Results in Graduates Who Are Highly Qualified to Get, Keep Jobs
High School Students Ebony Wilkens and Larry Bruce

Across the country, young adults preparing to enter the workforce are feeling the sting of a tight job market. Competition for employment is stiff for the brightest, most talented youth, much less young adults with learning, emotional and neurological problems. But at the Kennedy Krieger High School Career and Technology Center, students are graduating with real-world job experience and industry recognized certifications that give them a competitive advantage.

After suffering through anxiety and aggression at other schools, Jacob learned the skills he needed to thrive at the Institute’s specialized autism education program in Montgomery County.
From the start, Jacob Edwards struggled in school. Diagnosed with autism, Jacob was overstimulated, and couldn’t make it through the school day without acting out—hitting, biting, throwing—it was clear that he was anxious and overwhelmed. The last straw was the day in third grade when he broke a window at school with his bare hands, landing him in the hospital.
When behavior gets in the way of learning, Kennedy Krieger School Programs help bring out a student’s potential.
Bradley Zaukus started to get out of control in the first grade. Diagnosed with autism, his behavior was worsening to the point that he was biting and hitting other students, and the teachers at his school couldn’t handle him.



Read inspiring stories, news and updates about the Institute's patient care, research, special education, professional training, and community programs.


Resource Finder


A free resource that provides access to information and support for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.