When I first started writing this blog Alex was entering her sophomore year of high school. My goal was to hopefully help parents with young children with down syndrome recognize the bright future their children have, despite the doctors’ appointments, the IEP meetings, the ignorance of others and all the other day to day events that happen when raising a child with disabilities. I had and still do hope that Alex’s successes can help others. Alex is just like any other person with special needs, she has hopes and dreams for her future and our job is to honor those dreams.
With that in mind I wrote a post over two years ago called the cans and cannots, but I too have learned and will continue to learn from my daughter, there are no cannots. Instead these past negatives comments about Alex’s ability have become has not yet.
Alex grows every day, sometimes in leaps and bounds and sometimes in baby steps. I do not know when she is going to plateau or climb, but I try to pay attention to the ongoing process, just like with Courtney and just like with Tom.
As of today at the age of 18 years, 8 months and 20 days Alex can do all of the following extremely well, there are no cannots in our life. In random order:
- Go away for an overnight trip with her Special Olympic Team and compete in skiing without me!
- Not answer my texts and calls because she is angry at me
- Manage her own schedule (as well as her case managers) without me!
- Navigate her school, her town and the neighboring towns without me!
- Give me directions when I go the wrong way
- Correct me when I am wrong, as well as anyone else who is wrong
- Go into a store and buy something and bring back the correct change without me!
- Fill out her own college applications without me!
- Use the I-pad and computer better than me
- Do her homework without me!
- Make her own meals, do her laundry and clean up her room without me!
- Keep a calendar on her cell phone to manage her busy schedule without me!
- And on and on
There is a theme here, one that is tough to embrace, as with my other two children Alex is moving to a world of independence and it is without me! It is tough medicine to swallow, but also the remedy to my years of unnecessary worrying, necessary advocating and believing in something I knew nothing about.
As we get closer to graduation and I revel in Alex’s successes I go back to one of the themes I try to keep alive in these posts – it takes a village.
In large part, I was not around during a lot of Alex’s formative years, she was in school and that was without me. It was without me that Alex has learned and thrived, it was with the help of many caring and dedicated professionals, case managers, coaches, teachers, family and friends that Alex succeeded. But mostly it is all Alex, and the journey will continue for a long long time and I will try to learn and let go.