I have to apologize for having not shared any cupcakes so far. Yes, it’s Wednesday…but today has been an unusual day. It has been full of more sparkles than this mom ever thought she would see.
Today I attended the 7th grade awards presentation at my spectrum kiddo’s middle school. It was good. It was enough that my boy, my spectrum kiddo who was never asked into regular ed, the same boy I had to fight for and convince the school to TRY him in regular ed for six months, was receiving his HONOR ROLL award. That was enough. He has been on the honor roll for all four quarters this year…and he earned that…no special ed, no pull out time, no resource minutes. Just the team work of good teachers and a spectrum student.
That would have been enough. It would have been plenty. It’s an accomplishment to just be where we are since we started out “behind the eight ball” so to speak. No social skills, severe speech delay, severe expressive and receptive skill delays, inability to follow more than one and two step directions, full-blown-snotting melt downs in class, and a stubborn streak a mile wide. We were not regular ed material once upon a time.
Like I said, honor roll would have been enough.
When he walked into the gym, I saw him right away. He was wearing his red Boston Red Sox t-shirt and it was easy to find. What surprised me was that he was walking beside another boy, a much bigger boy I did not know….and they were talking. They were actually having a conversation! MY BOY…was talking casually…to a PEER. Not in a social class but just walking…and talking.
It took me a moment to catch my breath. I quietly got up from my seat and sought out the teacher he was with since I am trying to come up with a list of kids to pair him with in classes for eighth grade. This kiddo he was with seemed to genuinely like my boy and I liked that a LOT so I went right ahead and asked the teacher as much.
He ushered me into an office so we’d be out of earshot of the kids and other families waiting for the program to begin and he tells me that THAT kid, the one with my boy, is one of the most popular kids on campus. He is the star athlete and most popular and he the teacher tells me…wait for it…”he really likes your son, he kind of takes care of your boy and really looks out after him.” My heart filled. I had no idea. To me, he just looked like a nice kid.
I thanked the teacher and went back to my seat and I noticed my boy climbing into the bleachers. He was climbing up to where that same boy was sitting with his friends, the popular kids. When my boy approached, my boy tried to squeeze in, to sit next to the boy he’d walked in with but the other kids would not make room for him. I thought my heart was going to sink as I watched them usher my boy to sit else where. In a quick second, I watched the boy who’d walked in with my boy, physically slide the other kids down enough to make room in the row for my boy. My heart filled again when I looked at this boy that I did not know but who apparently held a great deal of respect and compassion for my boy. My boy who still has some impaired social skills would make an easy target. My boy, who still suffers from the choppy speech a severe speech delay will leave behind long after the speech therapist has deemed you able, could easily be made fun of by a more savvy child. But today, and this year, I see my boy with his peers and realize….who my boy is…is enough.
For the rest of the assembly, as I watched my boy and his friends more than I watched the awards being displayed, I saw my boy sitting with some of the tougher kids in school…and, low and behold, my boy was simply being a goofball. He was misbehaving a bit but he was just being a typical 7th grade kid and, for this momma, that was just as important, perhaps more so, than the honor roll award I’d come to watch my boy receive.
It would have been enough, knowing where we have come from, simply to be acknowledged for his honor roll accomplishment but, today, sitting with kids that appeared genuinely to be his friends, being a goofball on the honor roll meant so much more. It meant the therapy was worth every hour and dollar spent. It meant all the hours of working hard to divert the worry was worth it and every fight with every school that drained me was worth every single drop of grief because it got him to today…a place of acceptance, camaraderie and friendship and it got him to a place of both academic excellence and social acceptance that I thought might never be ours. Today my boy was simply enough… and, at the same time, he was a whole lot more than anyone could of predicted on any evaluation form we ever received back from a doctor. Today autism proved to me that, if given the time and patience it deserves, autism indeed moves, it grows and changes, and autism breathes with an incredible brilliance that has become more than I ever imagined. Sparkle On, my friends!