It’s hard to believe that it’s almost over. Fourteen years ago when we started this journey by putting a 3 year old Autistic kid onto a bus to the early intervention program preschool it seemed like we’d never reach this point. Three years ago when a 51 year old woman decided that it was perhaps time to get a college degree of some sort and maybe online learning was the way to go it seemed like a crazy thing to do.
The 14 years of preschool, grammar school, middle school and high school were not easy years. There were so many bumps in the road and very high hurdles to climb. The 3 years of an online only Associates’ degree program crammed into 7-1/2 week classes with never-ending assignments, discussions, reflections, exams, research and portfolio projects was beyond challenging.
Alex started out in the BOCES program and at times was in with some severely disabled kids. Our fear was always that he would not excel or push himself to be the best that he could be if he was surrounded by kids whose limitations would only let them reach so high. If the bar was set low, he would only reach the bar. I started out in the Medical Administrative Assistant program because I didn’t know what else to do. I quickly discovered that most of the program content (other than the medical terminology and anatomy classes) was content that I already knew inside out and backwards and I was bored with it.
Once Alex started kindergarten within the regular school district he was within the Special Education program and entitled to an IEP (Individualized Education Program). At that point they started to look more closely at what he could do and set goals that he would be able to reach. They started to raise the bar. Once I had spoken to a counselor and asked about a change in degree program, I started to think about what I could do. I knew I was good with computers. I also knew I had a creative side that I had never been able to fully explore. My options began to open up.
Alex not only learned the 3 R’s as they used to call it (reading, writing and arithmetic), but he also learned how to communicate and how to interact with others in social situations. He has come so far.
I learned how to do college level research, how not to plagiarize and how to properly cite my references. I learned how to write college level papers and how to prepare and give speeches. I learned the basics of graphic design and web development and design. I have learned so much.
In June when Alex walks across that stage and receives his diploma, we will look back proudly on his many achievements the past few years – participation in Chorus, his consistent placement on the High Honor Roll and his overall growth. I will finish my degree program in December, but I won’t have the chance to walk across the stage until May of 2014. I can proudly say (with four classes remaining) that I have maintained a 4.0 GPA, and I am a member of the Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society.
Who knew when we both started our academic careers that we’d both end at around the same time and that we’d both exceed expectations? It’s been a wild ride.