My name is LaToya Roper and I am the Parent Mentor for The Columbia County School District. I am extremely excited and overjoyed to embark upon an amazing journey, doing what I know is my purpose in life. I know firsthand the challenges, but most importantly the blessings that come along with having a child with special needs. I have been married to my High School sweetheart, Willie Roper for 10 years. We have two beautiful children with very interesting personalities, so there is never a dull moment! Tyler and Taylor both attend Riverside Elementary School.
Our oldest Tyler was diagnosed at age 3 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). This diagnosis is now only referred to as Autism. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, and restrictive and repetitive behavior. Autism is very complex, it can range from mild to very severe. Tyler was originally diagnosed with only an Expressive Speech Delay at age 2, but “a Mother knows,” so I was very persistent to be sure he received the proper diagnosis. We have been on this journey for 9 years. We have struggled through grief, developmental delays, searched for answers, and finally accepting that the way our life story is written is solely up to God. There are certainly highs and lows to having an exceptional child, but we know that Tyler is one of God’s special angels and his purpose unfolds each and every day.
Tyler has been in the Columbia County School District since he was 3 years old. We begin seeking out therapies and other services as early as age 2, knowing how imperative Early Intervention is to progression. We also have a very meticulous parenting style that we know will benefit him in the future. I know what it feels like to sit in that very first IEP meeting, trying not to burst into tears as reality stares you in the face or having to withdraw your child from one school and place him in another because he doesn’t “fit in.” I’m right there with you; the long nights of prayer, and the tears shed trying to figure out how you can make everything right. I have walked this very long, and what can sometimes seem lonely, road of having a child with special needs.
I am honored to walk alongside this road with you. Please contact me if you need any help, guidance, support, or just need a listening ear and shoulder to lean on. If I don’t know the answer, please trust that I will find it! I am here as a liaison between school and home. I will advocate for parents/guardians, help find information and resources, and also keep you informed regarding school and community workshops, events, and activities. We will work together as a team, with Teachers and Administrators, to make sure your child succeeds and receives every possible community resource to help them move forward.LaToya Roper