The Problem Child Who Wasn’t

Margarita Bragar, 16
Gaisin, Ukraine

As a child, Margarita was regarded as mischievous and ill-mannered, often receiving reprimand for causing trouble at school and ignoring the rules set by her parents.  But as she transitioned into adolescence, Margarita’s situation worsened considerably, with her parents scolding her constantly and punishing her excessively for rebellious behavior.  After years of disobedience, they were simply at their wits end.

The truth, however, is that Margarita was never a problem child, nor a troubled teen.  She was simply misunderstood, as her struggle with Asperger’s syndrome went undiagnosed for the first 16 years of her life.

Incapable of reading social cues or understanding the nuances of nonverbal communication, she felt lost and confused, emotions that were only magnified by the angry and aggressive responses she received from teachers, school mates and her parents.  At times, she felt so threatened that she would react with violence, hitting or pushing away those she believed most dangerous.  Though she was seen by virtually everyone in her life as a troublemaker, it was merely a misunderstanding.

After years of anger and inner turmoil, Margarita reached her breaking point, becoming despondent and withdrawn, refusing to eat or interact with others, especially her parents.  She sank into deep depression and even attempted to take her own life.  Scared for their daughter’s wellbeing, Margarita’s parents reached out to LifeChanger FSU for help.

The local LifeChanger FSU coordinator arranged for a full psychological evaluation with a private psychologist, and Margarita’s lifelong battle with Asperger’s syndrome finally came to light.  After the initial shock, her parents, both relieved and remorseful, vowed to stand by their daughter and help her navigate the complexities of life.

Margarita continued to see the psychologist daily, and while the first few meetings were unproductive, she began to open up in subsequent meetings.  Slowly, Margarita’s attitude towards her self-worth began to change, and she became committed to rebooting her life, starting again with a clean slate.  With the support of medical and educational specialists, Margarita was reintroduced into the school environment.  She receives private tutoring to ensure that she remains on track academically, and her psychologist consults with school administrators regularly to make sure that Margarita feels safe and secure.

LifeChanger FSU also provides Margarita with new, fashionable clothing, and works with her parents to make sure that she maintains a healthy diet and a positive outlook on life.  Margarita’s parents also receive guidance from the psychologist reading how to improve communication and physical interactions with their daughter, and the situation at home has never been better.

For the first time in her life, Margarita feels that she is being heard and understood.  She feels loved and is happier than ever before.