Just a ‘normal’ kid

Published 11:24 am Friday, April 16, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Ballard fifth grader Jasmine Thompson wants nothing more than to be a normal kid and that is exactly how her teacher and classmates make her feel.
Academically and socially, she is as normal as a 12-year-old gets, she just happens to have cerebral palsy.
Jasmine gets nearly perfect grades, plays kickball with her class and even helps classmates with their school work.
The fact that she has cerebral palsy just makes it a little harder for her to get around and limits her ability to communicate verbally.
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects a person's ability to control movement and posture and can often include difficulty with fine motor skills and involuntary movements. It is often caused by a birth trauma such as oxygen deprivation.
Jasmine, daughter of Elijah and Camile Thompson, uses a walker to help her get around and a device called a Dynavox that allows her to communicate by typing in her thoughts and then having them displayed on a screen.
On Thursday, she communicated through her Dynavox to talk about her favorite part of being a student at Ballard.
Her teacher Zech Hoyt said her will and desire to be just like the rest of the kids is amazing.
He has also been very impressed with the amount of help and care that his class provides for Jasmine.
Jasmine's aide, Bonnie Fruk, who accompanies her around the school and helps whenever necessary, agrees that Jasmine has found the perfect class.
Her classmates love having Jasmine around and agree that she has taught them a lot this year.
Fruk said she has made significant progress since moving to Niles from Benton Harbor this year.
Jasmine is currently taking speech classes at Ballard and is already starting to say a variety of words.
Hoyt said having her in class has been a great learning experience for the students and for himself. He also said Jasmine's positive attitude has had a tremendous impact on everyone around her.