Graduation Day

by Lillian Csernica on June 14, 2013

Yesterday my fourteen year old son John graduated from middle school.  He walked the walk, going up onstage and receiving his diploma with the rest of his not-quite-two-hundred classmates.

With this act, many things come to an end.  John says goodbye to his one-to-one aide, herself the mother of an autistic boy, who has been at his side for nine whole years.  He says goodbye to the special day class teacher who is one of the finest teachers and most wonderful people I’ve ever met.  John says goodbye to part of his core group of classmates, kids he’s been through elementary school with, and now leaves behind in sixth and seventh grade as he moves on to high school.  John leaves behind another portion of what it is to be a child.

Many things will now begin.  John’s new aide is a man with a strong background in mathematics and family experience with teenagers.  John will enter a new social world where he’ll make new friends, aided by the older brothers and sisters of his classmates.  I’ve already had a promise from the mother of John’s best friend that her older daughter will watch over John.  There will be new opportunities for John to expand his drawing skills and his interest in basketball.  There will be dances and field trips and school projects and the difficult moments and the glorious times.

Yesterday those of us who are mothers of the special needs students ran up to each other laughing and crying, hugging each other until we were breathless.  There they were, our sons and daughters, every one of them a testament to the teachers and aides and speech therapists and occupational therapists and medical teams and our love, patience, and support.  One of John’s friends who is farther along the spectrum than he is has made such amazing strides that he received a special award for achievement in making the most improvements.  We know him well.  I was so delighted to see a good dozen of the boy’s extended family there to cheer him on and take lots of photos.  He and John will be having a camp-out in the back yard of our new house.  This summer will be full of adventures and sleep-overs and all kinds of fun.

As hard as our lives have been, being a family with special needs, it’s still good to be us.  As much as my depression has done bad things to me, yesterday I tasted pure joy.

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Filed under Awards, Family, Special needs, Writing

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