New Beginnings

Posted by theothersideofnormal on June 4, 2014 in autism, coping skills, family |


Today is the first day of summer vacation for Tony… for the last time.  He’s 21 years old and has officially graduated out of the school district’s transition program. And as I sit here at the kitchen table wondering just what to do next, I can’t help but reflect.  Sitting in front of me are his final IEP and Evaluation from the school district.  My mind shifts back to the last day of Kindergarten over 16 years ago and my panic of what to do next…

“He’s not ready!” I remember pleading, as tears rolled down my face.  “He’s not ready for the next step!” I cried as I watched him cling to a Barney video that he wanted to take from the classroom.

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I’m sensing the same panic this morning.

Only he’s not the one clinging… I am.

But that’s only because it’s CHANGE.   I know that.  I’m well aware of change, growth, moving forward, new beginnings and everything that goes with it.  And I’ve always loved change.  I love to start new and reinvent.  I do.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not butterflies — or that it’s always an easy thing to do.

Tony still needs constant observation and redirection of behaviors.  He can show physical aggression towards others or destruction of property.

Yes.  We’re well aware of that, as he’s “destructed” two flat screen TVs since March.

He needs structure, predictability, and consistent environment and schedule in his day.

We need to pre-teach all expectations, such as any outing, appointment, or visit.

Has he come a long way?   Absolutely.

Does he have a long way to go?  Absolutely.

Is my heart full?  Absolutley.

In the powerpoint presentation from last night’s ceremony, here’s the note we contributed to our Tony:


Congratulations on graduating from County College!  We are SO very proud of you and are very excited for you to start your new job and your new career.  You have the ability to do things the rest of us can’t even imagine!  You are talented, smart, handsome, and friendly.  We will always love you and help you as you grow older and wiser.

Our family is forever,

With love, Mom & Dad, Michael & Christy, Joey, Beau, Kelly & Bella Rose”

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There were tears.  There were hugs of gratitude.

And there was a quick exit — chasing Tony out the door.  🙂

I guess he was ready to go.

So the moral of the story?   Sometimes you have to literally run out of your comfort zone and into the next chapter.  Sometimes there’s just no other way.

Keep the faith,



p.s. I’ve been absent in my writing, and for that I apologize.  You’ll hear from us more as we pave our way into his future.  Thank you so much for your continued support, texts, letters, and emails.  It means the world to us to have such a support network and we can only hope that we are paying it forward to those families reading this who will someday face the same challenges.

Happy summer!


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  • avatar avatarDarlene Armstrong says:

    Congratulations to Tony. Wish him a good future ahead. He certainly has a wonderful family to help him along the way. Love & prayers for all of you as you move ahead.

  • avatar avatarMaxine Johnson says:

    Graduations are always overwhelming. They have always been important milestones in our family and sometimes the new beginnings are hard to begin! Congratulations to all on a job well done. Tell Tony that I remember when his dad graduated from Mapleton High School – he ran into his new life, too! Take care

  • avatar avatarEllie Ramirez says:

    I’m very happpy for all of you! Transitions are never easy, for anyone; BUT, if any family can know how to cope and handle the new adventures that await, it’s YOURS!!! Best wiehes to all of you, and CONGRATULATIONS, TONY!!! WELL DONE!!!

  • avatar avatarMarion J Freking says:

    Congraulations to Tony AND to the family…You all had to work together to come to such a good time for Tony..there is no words I can express the admiration how the family has worked to gether inspite of Tony’s challenges..I am sure the Faith and Gods help has seen you through it all…

  • avatar avatarPam Dix says:

    Your and your family have done an amazing job helping Tony do an amazing job. I look forward to reading the future chapters in Tony’s life!

  • avatar avatarMaxine Johnson says:

    I meant his grandfather – as I remember, I ran, too, to another phase of life!

  • avatar avatarBrian Webb says:

    Love you Tony! Love you Becki, Dave, Michael, Joey!

  • avatar avatarBonnie Grussing says:

    Thank you for sharing Tony’s graduation with us all. Sometimes we get so wound up in our own world’s that we are unaware what is happening around us. CONGRATULATIONS–what a milestone. Your “moral of the story” especially spoke to me with Friday being my last day as a classroom teacher and 23 years with that life schedule and today being the first day for my precious mother to be in “Memory Care”. All new beginnings although usually exciting now are frightening. Know that others care and are there for support in whatever is next.

  • avatar avatarAnn Cooley says:

    I am keeping the faith….keeping it in Tony, you, Dave & the rest of your delightful family…LOVE you all.

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