Friday, July 18, 2014

Catching up may take a bit!

  It has been a month since I made an entry, but sometimes the living of life takes up all my time!  So much to catch up on.   Our big events in the month of June were prom, then end of school, and our eldest son's high school graduation.
    Our daughter and her boyfriend went to the senior prom, looking their spiffy as usual.  Rather than wearing another ball gown, she wanted to try a more columnar look, so we found a pattern and a  pretty purple satin and whipped up a dress.
Prom Beauty
And a good time was had by all.
My girl
     The next big event was the high school graduation.  Our son graduated, and was also able to receive his diploma with his class.  Every person on the autistic spectrum has different abilities and disabilities.  Part of what makes him different is his anxiety over crowds and the unknown - which, when you come to think about it, is no different than many folks' anxieties!
     We have been very lucky that within this school system we have teachers, and aids, and principals, and coaches who have been willing to work with him, taking extra time with him, calling us from their homes to update us, or give us a "heads up" about future events.  My son is incredibly likable, but has not always been an easy student.  While there are always a couple of teachers along the way who have dismissed him because he is difficult and makes them work, most of our educators have been behind him the whole way.  We could not be more grateful for all their hard work, dedication, and love.
     In order to get through graduation, which is held indoors in a fully packed auditorium, we had a plan in place since September.  He would march in with his class, and instead of sitting on the stage with the other grads and having to listen to all the speeches, the  announcing of awards, etc., he would veer off into the wings where a teacher would meet him and they would hang out in the library - which had a simulcast feed from the ceremony playing - then go back and slip into line to receive his diploma.  We have been talking about this since Sept.  We have  gone through the steps, verbally, for months, so there were no surprises.  Then, graduation practice. 
     Right off the bat, there were modifications.  It ran from 10 - 2:00pm.  The teacher who had originally come up with the "graduation plan" modified thing.  A few nights before, we got a call and she told us, "I told the principal there was no way we were putting him through four hours of that, no way. So have him arrive at 11:30 and we will call you when it is over."   We followed her time table, and he arrived home at 1:30 with his cap and gown, which he promptly threw to me, saying, "this needs to be ironed." Well then...okay.
     Graduation morning, he got dressed - shirt and tie.  He kept trying to wear his blazer, and we kept trying to convince him he would sweat mightily wearing it under his graduation robes.  We won.   Then as family from both coasts sat in the auditorium, I prayed that the practice, the repetition of what was expected, and his desire to be with his class on this big day, would win out over panic.  The music played.  The students processed.  He was there, doing what he was supposed to, and grinning from ear to ear!  A former teammate of his happened to be sitting on the aisle and gave him a quick High 5, but no one minded. 
Behind the grad with his hand on his face.
marching and murmuring, "left, left, left, right, left"

     During the receiving of their diplomas, the audience was asked not to clap until the end.  At least, that was what was written in the program.  I never read the program, so I started clapping for each student, wondering why folks were being so quiet.  Eventually,  individual families were clapping for their own graduate as they took their diploma.  Then came my son's turn.  I was stunned.  His name was called, and not only did we clap, but the entire auditorium exploded into applause and cheers - even the graduates on stage were clapping.  It was amazing. 
Old friends and teammates are the best.
    We think we know our children, and what is going on with their lives.  This just brought home the fact that I am clueless.  He is extremely popular.  His peers really like him.  Folks around the town all know and like him.  I have been approached in stores, while shopping with my daughter, and strangers have asked if I was his mother, then told me what a great kid he is.  Everyone knows him!  Graduation  was a window into a side of my eldest son that I knew nothing about.   I later found out that he was given the Senior Superlative of "Person Most Likely to Brighten your Day!" It was an amazing day, and he is an amazing young man.  

Two of his many aunts
Momma is his biggest supporter!

He never could have made it without his sister by his side
We are all so proud of our graduate.