Skiatook girl with special needs passes away after pioneering change for kids with disabilities

Posted at 4:58 PM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 20:12:25-04

A former Skiatook High School graduate’s sudden death has friends and family grieving.

Alyson Lerch, who had special needs, passed away on Saturday, but leaves behind a legacy that impacts all children with disabilities in Oklahoma.

Even after death, Alyson's passion for education lives on.

“I loved her laugh, and I loved her tenacity,” Michelle Lerch, Alyson’s mother said. “She could have a tremendous seizure in then in a few minutes be playing and be happy.”

Alyson Lerch dealt a hard hand when she was born with a rare brain disorder, suffering seizures almost daily.

“We went to a neurologist and he said she'll never walk, never talk, never go to school, never amount to anything,” Michelle said. “And she won't live past the age of 3.”

But here we are, 22 years later, saying goodbye to a prom queen, homecoming court nominee, and a high school graduate. But getting that diploma was the biggest hurdle of them all

“They had to be able to pass the end of instruction testing through school to be able to graduate,” Michelle said.

She said it was the same test kids without disabilities were required to pass.

“That didn't settle well with me."

So Alyson and her mom fought, taking the issue all the way to the state board of education to give every child a fair chance at wearing a cap and gown. Seven months later, Alyson got her diploma, creating “Alyson's law,” meant to individualize testing for all children in Oklahoma with disabilities so they can graduate.

“It was amazing,” Michelle said.

When Alyson crossed the graduation stage, her family was in tears. She then became the first person with special needs to graduate from Skiatook HIgh School under the new rule.

“They just clapped, and when they clapped, the whole place clapped.”

Alyson, now a pioneer for all kids with special needs. And although she never spoke a word in her life, her voice is now forever loud, for everyone to hear.

If you’d like to donate to Alyson’s funeral fund, you can do so here.

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