The Decision to Try

They said he may never speak in full sentences. They said that he may always need help in school. They said that he may never be fully independent.

Yet last week my son got off the school bus, came inside, and started his homework all on his own. He had trouble with an assignment, so he emailed the teacher, using a proper greeting. He then figured the problem out on his own and responded kindly to his teacher’s email.

He has struggled in the past to advocate for himself, to initiate less-preferred activities, and to take problems in stride. On this day he did all of those things without anyone around to remind him, prompt him, or encourage him.

What’s even more profound is that this was for his Spanish class. My son with a disorder that affects his ability to communicate is taking a high school level foreign language course. A course in communicating in new and complicated ways.

Eight years ago when Hayden started school, his teachers said that a typical classroom wouldn’t be a possibility for him. I said, “Can you just give him a chance? You haven’t even let him try.”

They said no. That despite reading above grade level, his inability to manage his big emotions was reason enough to deny him a proper education. I’ve since learned that their response was against the law.

Kids with disabilities have the right to attend regular classes with their peers, and to do meaningful work. After 8 years, 2 lawyers, 3 advocates, 6 BCBAs, 4 MAPS, multiple behavior therapists, a dietitian, a health coach, a chiropractor, OTs, STs, psychologists, great teachers, wonderful aides, helpful administrators (and many not-so much), family members, friends, support groups, and a partridge in a pear tree, my son is taking high school Spanish in 8th grade.

And so far, apparently, he’s doing just fine.

We are overcoming the barriers that autism brings. We are working toward a life that is his to choose, without anyone putting limits on where his journey takes him. We still have a way to go for full independence, but each day we get a step closer to that goal.

“Every accomplishment begins with a decision to try.”

What would you like to try next?

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