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The Queen of Castle Hills Elementary

Four months before Audrina Putra was born, her parents Tina and Joseph learned she would have Down Syndrome.


With no family history or knowledge of the disease, the Castle Hills couple spent much time researching so they would know what to expect including finding the right specialist doctors. 


“It was shocking not knowing,” Tina said. “It was very new to us. You have to ask so many doctors and people how to take care of special needs and what is the future.”


They were told she might have a hole in her heart and gastrointestinal issues. While she was born with a hole, it was gone by her six-month checkup. No intestinal problems have appeared though she is on the lower end of the height and weight growth chart. She also has had multiple surgeries for cross and shaking eyes and tubes placed in her ears twice. 


Today, she is a bright, energetic 9-year-old who will be in fourth grade at Castle Hills Elementary School where her father said she is known as The Queen. She follows a special curriculum and attends summer school twice weekly to maintain her skills and takes speech therapy. 


“She is very friendly. She likes to draw; she likes to paint; she likes to write; she likes to read,” said Tina, a neonatal ICU nurse. “It took her more time to read and connect words at the beginning. Once she could, she loves books. We take them to the library a lot. She loves going to the playground so we’ve pretty much visited every Castle Hills playground. We love all of them. She loves to swing the most.”


“Them” includes brother Enzo, who will be in sixth grade, and sister Annabelle, 6, who is entering first grade at Castle Hills Elementary. 


“Everyone there loves her and she loves them so much,” Tina said. “There’s a lot of positive things at school being around her peers and teachers who care about her so much. It has definitely helped.”


“Every morning she likes to stop by the teachers’ office and say hi to everyone and make sure they say hi to her,” said Joseph, an engineer. 


They have resided in Castle Hills since 2018 after previously living elsewhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Joseph and Tina are both from Indonesia, met in 2000 at Iowa State University, and married in 2006.

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