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Jennifer Shirley, a Craig Middle School special education teacher, works with Katelynn Hildebrandt, 16, in the special education classroom at the school in mid-February. Because Katelynn cannot speak, her teachers rely on subtle signs, including eye gaze and small movements, to determine what the CMS eighth-grader is thinking and feeling.

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A parent's 'privilege': Disabled Craig teen a source of hope, inspiration for family

In Katelynn Hildebrandt’s room there are no posters of teenage heartthrobs, no pictures of friends, no cell phone, no computer or any other trademarks of a typical 16-year-old girl. Instead, a group of dolls holds silent conference on a dresser near her bed. Mickey and Minnie Mouse dolls smile placidly from the top of a nearby bookcase, while plush lambs and rabbits fill a shelf above a row of books. Katelynn did not choose the toys, the books or anything else in her bedroom, the typical bastion of teenage self-expression and freedom.

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