Saturday, June 18, 2011


Before Rojo was in kindergarten he’d been to five preschools either as part of Early Intervention or my stabs at typical settings. Since that time, nine years, he’s been in exactly one. It’s fair to say he doesn’t remember the first five. It’s fair to say he’ll never forget this one.

Now he’s an eighth grade “graduate” – graduate being in quotes because he was “placed” in eighth grade, not “promoted.” There was a time when that detail would have swept me at the knees – my boy, not even a grade school graduate – but by the time that decision was made it had been settled in my heart and mind for a little while, anyway.

It’s funny, as recently as four years ago we met with the behavioral pediatrician and these words actually fell from my lips, “Do you think Rojo will be able to go to college?” The fact that he did not spit out his coffee and say, “WHERE have you been? Of COURSE he is not going to college,” is a testament to just how kind he is. Still, that’s where I was four years ago – still holding out a thin ray of hope that with enough support and accommodations, we could possibly make it work.

There is place for hope and a belief that anything is possible, and right next to that place, is a place for reality, acceptance, surrender, and with a magical combination of faith and support… peace.

Now Rojo will transition on to what I believe will be a wonderful four-year high school experience, pretty much tailor-made for him. When we began asking for what we wanted for him for high school; that was three years ago. Even then, what we were projecting by the time he got to ninth grade and what he actually needs; are two different things. The high school saw it even before we did. As we threw out words like “differentiated instruction,” they threw out words like “life skills.”

Essentially, Rojo will spend the next four years doing just that – acquiring life skills: cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, budgeting, riding the city busy, etc. Again, there was a time not very long ago (shockingly recently, actually), where that news would have been devastating. Now I’m jumping up and down and saying, “Thank you! Yes! That’s just what he needs! Thank you for providing it!”

When you stop and think about it, that’s what education is all about – acquiring the skills to do what we will eventually be doing in life. And let’s face it, the typing class I took in school was probably the #1 most helpful and applicable class I ever in my life took, to “train” me for what I do on a daily basis now – 30 years after “graduating.”

Do any of us truly “graduate?” Ever? Don’t we all just learn what we can, when we can, from whomever and wherever we can? 


  1. Bravo! You are absolutely right. And, as the parent of a "normal" student, I only wish they would place more emphasis on teaching them life skills, too. I would love it if everyone got to learn more about budgeting and making good decisions and maybe a little less time prepping for the SAT.
    I am so amazed at your ability to continue to learn and grow with Rojo's needs. I love that you are so aware of what is important and necessary and, however painful, you choose to let go of your traditional ambitions for him in an effort to accept him for who he is.

  2. Love the place you are in. It is such a relief to meet our children where they are. I just know Rojo is going to have a great four years, and a great life beyond. He is such a light.

  3. Love your hope, your boy, and you.

  4. There is no time to stop learning. I think it's impossible even if we try.

  5. It's hard to let go of the dreams we have for our children, not just our special needs children, but our regular kids as well. It's a process which takes time and tears. Be gentle with yourself.

  6. Definitely. We never really graduate -- I'm still learning, in the hardest way, every single day.

  7. I like your attitude. Life skills are vastly underrated. One of the best classes I took in high school taught typing, Stenoscript (a form of shorthand), how to balance a checkbook, and how to make out a budget. Despite the fact that I went on to college and law school, those are the skills that I use every day. IMHO every child should be taught life skills at some point.

  8. I'm still where you were. Holding out hope that my son will be able to eventually get into a mainstream class and even if he doesn't go to college I have not given up hope that he will graduate from a typical high school. I will admit that hope is slowly changing now though as it seems like time is moving way too fast and his progress is moving at a slower than snails pace. I hope I can find the peace you have. Congrats to your graduate. It's exciting stuff. Good luck to him through high school.