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Graduation - The End of an Era

     

Tonight, Ben graduated from high school. I know it seems cliche to say, but it really does seem like only yesterday that he took those first terrifying steps into school.

He spent five years in public schools (first in Seattle, and then later in Orlando), and then spent a dozen years at a charter school just for autistic children.

We have watched him grow from a sickly pale wisp of a child, ten years old and still wearing diapers, into a strong and healthy adult.

In the state of Florida a special-needs person can remain enrolled in public school through the end of the semester during which their 22nd birthday occurs. Ben's birthday was just over two weeks ago, and the semester ends this week. And so, tonight he graduated high school along with two of his classmates.

As graduation ceremonies go, it was extremely brief. Some opening remarks, a 3 1/2 minute video retrospective of the three graduating students, and then the presentation of the diplomas. The whole thing was over and done within fifteen minutes, but to the school's credit it was treated with all of the seriousness and pomp & circumstance of any other graduation ceremony. It was intimate, yet well attended, andt here was not a dry eye in the house.

So that's it, the end of an era. Ben actually has two more days of school, but after this Friday he is done forever with the public school system.

So what happens next? Honestly, it is going to take some time to figure out the "new normal". There is an Adult Day Training program we are looking at, and I am hopeful that it will work out. Statistically, most individuals in Ben's situation turn twenty-two and then spend the rest of their life sitting on a couch watching television. That is no good for anyone, least of all the autistic person. He deserves to continue to have a meaningful place to go each day and to make a worthwhile life as best he can. It is going to be a rough transition, and it is going to take some time to really figure it out.

I don't know where Ben is headed, but I am truly fascinated to find out. He has come such a long way, with so far yet to go. I hope it's a good journey.


2 Comments:
Becky Golden
A testimony to good parenting. The sacrifices that you (all) have made to see this day come, is illustrative of the true love of a parent. Congratulations to Ben, and to you.
karimoland
Congratulations Ben, what AWESOME day in your life!

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About Shmoolok

The word "shmoolok" is a mashup of the longtime computer handles for my wife and myself ("Shmooby" and "Lokheed", respectively).

I originally created this website to be a place for my family to connect, but it has since grown into something a little different.

As for me -- I am a father, a husband, a son, a software developer, and a writer. On any given day I am not sure how good I am at any of those particular things, but I do try my best.

Thank you for visiting my website.

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