December 14, 2019

A Flint mother says that poisoned water caused severe issues for her young son, resulting in problems at school and learning delays.

Nakiya Wakes was 38 and pregnant when she moved to Flint from Battle Creek six years ago. She had two children and two on the way.

She relocated to live with her children’s father and start a new life. But after a year of drinking lead-tainted tap water from the toxic Flint River, she miscarried her twins. The day she got home from the hospital’s critical care unit, she found a flyer on her front door advising that pregnant women should not drink the tap water.

“I was mad!” she said.

But her challenges had just begun. She said other residents warned her that the city was using water from the Flint River, but she said she didn’t understand the severity of their warning until she began seeing behavioral changes in her children.

Her son, Jaylon, who was 5 and had been diagnosed with attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), got worse, more anxious, more easily frustrated, she said. “And he developed a tic.”

She said school officials told her that they could not handle her son. Their solution? They kicked him out of school — over and over.

“My son was suspended or sent home more than 50 times,” she said. “When they stopped suspending him, they just called me every day to come get him.”

How Flint has handled the nearly 30,000 child victims of the water crisis is indicative of how school districts across the state are dealing with trauma.

The complete article can be accessed here.