Girl defies odds

Published 12:03 am Thursday, May 5, 2011

Diana Boyd is proving doctors’ theories wrong, and will start kindergarten next year, despite her mother being told she’d always have the mind of a 3-year-old. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

There were 30 students who donned caps and gowns Wednesday as part of Bright Beginnings annual graduation ceremony.

Among those was 6-year-old Diana Boyd, whose engaging smile and bright purple dress were enough to capture anyone’s attention.

When one takes into consideration she was born at 24 weeks, weighing 15.8 ounces, and was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (also known as water on the brain), it’s little wonder why yesterday’s ceremony represented lots of hard work and tears.

“When Diana was 2 months old, we found out her brain patterns were right, and she ended up having four shunts put in,” said her mom, Clarice Benson. “The doctors told us she would have the mind of a 3-year-old, be partially blind and never feed herself.

“They were wrong,” she said.

It took Boyd until age 3 to begin to crawl and until age 4 to walk.

“Things were slow, but we made it,” Benson said. “She’s eating all by herself and can see perfectly. At this point, she has the mind of a 2-year-old, but we’re getting there.”

Boyd’s first day of kindergarten at Andalusia Elementary School at 5 “didn’t turn out so good,” Benson said.

After discussing things with the Andalusia City School System, it was decided that Boyd might adapt well to the Bright Beginnings’ learning environment.

“We started with Shirley Trawick, who was amazing,” Benson said. “But, really, at 4, it was time for her to start preschool. Jeanie Watson, the speech therapist at ACS, said, ‘We have to send her. You’ve got to stop sheltering her.’

“She’s my child, so I’m going to love her and deal with her, but others don’t have to love her and deal with her.

“I had to just take a deep breath, and do it,” she said. “And I did.”

Turns out, it was the best decision in the world for the child, she said.

“She loves school,” Benson said. “Every morning when they come out to get her, she almost jumps out of the car.

“I think being around other children made her start doing more on her own,” she said. “I think maybe I was hindering her a bit, but when she was there, she started talking a little more, walking and doing the things they said she wouldn’t do.”

Now, Boyd can spell her name, knows her ABCs and can count to 20.

“And she is doing just wonderful,” Benson said. “Next stop – kindergarten.”