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.
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”
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.