This past week my son put on a cap and gown and walked across a stage as his name was called to receive his high school diploma. As parents, it is a rite of passage that we ALL dream about happening one day. The rush of emotions I felt as he graduated were so VERY intense. Flashbacks of where we had been over the last 17 years bombarded my thoughts. I can remember vividly and painfully when my son was old enough to come to the realization “he was different” …his words not mine and the IMMENSE SORROW I felt in hearing him say that.
He began to spiral into a life filled with depression and anxiety. It became significantly worse when he was at school around other kids who were not always kind and adults who didn’t always understand nor want to. A very skilled therapist told me that you cannot expect him to learn if his mental health is suffering. Getting him the correct help HAS TO TRUMP EVERYTHING ELSE. Hearing those words were life changing I knew they were right. However… I was terrified that MY PLANS for his future education were diminished and it really hurt.
As a family, we made the very difficult decision of removing him from the school he was in for the sake of his mental health and began searching for educational options that were more geared to kids like mine. We struggled through a year and a half of online schooling while working closely with a tremendously skilled therapist and Dr who helped my son regain his footing. Their care and treatment allowed the darkness to lift. Once we all agreed he was strong enough we set off to get him back in a formal classroom. We found a fantastic school but the only hitch was it SEVENTY MILES away! As soon as I walked in to tour the school, I felt at home and knew in my heart it would be a good fit.
I will never forget the day that I took my son to see the school for the first time, the anxiety came back in full force. He literally attempted to jump out of the car and run when we were at a busy intersection. I was able to grab his hoodie and scream at him “What are You Doing?” When I was able to pull over safely we stepped outside of the car and as he stood there sobbing with his hoodie pulled up over his head I asked him what he was so afraid of and he cried, “I don’t know mom”.
My heart shattered into a million pieces, seeing that the fear he had was so great. HE BEGGED ME TO NOT MAKE HIM GO BECAUSE HE WAS SO AFRAID. That was probably one of my lowest moments, I hurt so deeply for him but I also knew if I did not push through that fear with him and get him to that school we would surely miss out of an incredible life changing opportunity. I got him back in the car and told him I would drive to the school and tell the staff what he was feeling. I just knew once that if could get him there, I would receive the help that we needed from the staff, knowing that they had experience with this type of fear and could offer suggestions. We arrived at the school and with that, it took a great deal of gentle coaxing and reassuring that he was safe. He made his way in and I received a text from the principal about 15 minutes later that he was smiling and talking with another student. BEST GIFT EVER!!!
He attended that school for 3 years and it wasn’t always a walk in the park nor would I have expected it to be, but he was taught by some of THE MOST caring, compassionate and accepting educators I HAVE EVER MET! These are people that are truly making a difference in this world by seeing the value in ALL children. By meeting kids where THEY are at and not feeling bound to use a One Size Fits All Standard. They are creative and innovative in their approach and are truly moving mountains for kids like mine. So this past week as my son beamed as he received his diploma I realized that the path to get to where we want our kids to be at often looks drastically different than what we planned and THAT IS OK. It’s about THEM and not US. I am eternally grateful to Barb, Meredith, Andrew, Chad, Diana, Grant, Brian, Garrett, Jo Jo, Peter, Ramian and Frank you are ALL EXCEPTIONAL Educators and HUMAN BEINGS.
If you are a parent of a child with special and unique needs we would love to have the opportunity to walk with you. We not only care for and support families with special and unique needs, but we also provide support and guidance to those who work directly or indirectly with the children who have special and unique needs and their families including businesses, non-profit organizations and educational staff. Please contact us via email or by phone – Lisa Goyette – 248-330-8493