May 23, 2012

The countdown has begun

Everyday for the last week Alex has come in to my room with the countdown. On Monday it was "Mom only four more days until I finish high school", and each subsequent day has decreased that looming day by one.

To say I am proud of Alex is a vast understatement, as it is so hard to put into words my feelings around this whole thing. I could start with proud, of course, but that does not account for all the hard work Alex did as well as her case manager, support providers, para educators, regular Ed teachers, community based providers and yes even us.

I have dreamed of this day for almost 19 years and even feared it. I have laid awake countless nights wondering if we were doing the right thing by Alex and I still wonder. But one thing I do know is Alex set a goal to graduate from high school with an academic diploma, just like her peers and on June 2nd her dream will be honored.

Last week we had Alex's last IEP meeting or in her case her exit interview. For the first time in Alex's educational career I did not brace myself for the possibility of goals, modifications and supports that were promised and not delivered.

Instead I walked into that meeting thankful. Eight pairs of eyes did not look at me as a threat, I felt no discomfort in that room, only caring for Alex and what she has accomplished. Instead of walking out of the room with angry tears, I spent the 60 minutes in the room crying tears of gratitude and in the process did something I am great at doing.....embarrassed Alex.

It truly takes a village to educate a child and a supportive community to educate a child with special needs. There are way too many people to thank right now, but to the entire Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, you have made a difference.

There will be lots of hoopla, family visits and many parties and I know Alex will enjoy herself (she even has some surprise visitors). Like all things the hoopla will die down, but I bet no one will ever forget the girl with down syndrome who graduated from Basalt High School.

Alex you have made a difference, you are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

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