Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I had Dear Son's IEP yesterday*. This is the Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is created annually where we define Dear Son's goals for the following year. We were all gathered at the meeting when someone asked about his Make a Wish trip. I said that he had been approved to go and that all of the arrangements had been made (hotel, air, etc.). His teacher asked for the dates. As it turns out, the week we are going on our trip is during Dear Son's high school graduation. He will miss his graduation. I couldn't believe it.

When Dear Son got sick in November, I had a conversation with his teacher and I asked her to keep me informed about two things: his yearbook and graduation. Also during that time, it came time to order his cap and gown and she gave them his sizes since we were in the hospital. As you know, Dear Son was out of school for months and has only attended three, three hour sessions to date. During this time, I had signed up and was receiving a daily e-mail from school regarding school activities. There was no mention of graduation.

When I got the approval for our trip, I checked with Dad's work schedule for dates; we had a few weeks to pick from. Since I am self employed, I can adjust my work schedule accordingly. I assumed high school graduation would be in June and not in the middle of May (Yes, I know many college graduations are in May but this is high school.).

I am really disappointed. I had Dear Son's graduation picture taken last summer in his cap/gown. We don't have any other events planned for Dear Son for the entire year and yet graduation is the week of our trip.

I know for many people this may not be a big deal. But for a parent of a special needs child, it is, or at least it is for me. Dear Son doesn't have a lot of milestones in his life. It's not like there will be a college graduation, a marriage, a first house or any babies. There isn't any driver's license to be had. There just aren't a lot of milestones. As a parent of a special needs child, I just want the things other people have. I want to celebrate a graduation. I want to see him all dressed up. I want to see him go across the stage and get his diploma. I want to see him with all the other kids that he went through school with and get the diploma. That's what I want for me. And for Dear Son, he'll love it when everyone is there and all of the hoopla around the event.

This is high junior high graduation. You can see him in the stone colored pants at the far end of the photo.

But graduation is only an hour or so. The tickets have been purchased for the trip and they already did this once for us. We are fortunate to go and I can't ask that they reschedule again. I don't want to complain that our trip is scheduled the same time as graduation. That's known as a high class problem when you have the opportunity of a trip of a lifetime and something else at the same time. You just can't go there.
All dressed up for his 8th grade graduation.

I will however miss this. Back in 2006, Dear Son had a MRSA pneumonia and nearly died. He was on a ventilator and we got out of the hospital and had only been home a week when his eigth grade graduation came up in early June. I had asked the doctor if it would be o.k. if we could go but he didn't think that Dear Son was well enough. Well, I decided to get him dressed up anyway and we went. I thought if he died, I wanted to see him graduate. The whole thing was about an hour. I took pictures before we left and it was exciting to see him go across the stage and get his diploma. Actually, the wheelchair kids weren't on the stage but they came down to the main level to give them their diplomas and it was really exciting. We were in the first row. Afterwards, I took pictures of him and his classmates. It was good to see all of the kids together. They went to elementary school together, then junior high and now high school together.

Here is a picture of his teacher (in the white skirt) and his classmates.

So it's unfortunate that it won't happen. As Dear Son's mother, I've seen how hard he has worked over the years to earn that diploma. While special needs kids don't graduate with the same knowledge as regular kids, they do have an education plan and they have worked hard as well.

In the end, we'll have a good trip. I'll keep my focus on all of the fun things that we'll do in Florida. Those will be things that will be important to Dear Son. My goal before he died was to see him happy and that's what we've been given the opportunity to do. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and once in a lifetime trip and we will make the most of it. It will be good to pack for a trip instead of the hospital. In the end, I suppose it really won't matter so much that we missed his graduation. I just wish it could have worked out a little differently.
*Post was written on Wednesday.


Canucker said...

Dream Mom, I do understand the importance of the high school graduation ceremony. It was a big milestone for my Joe to have reached and although he only attended school one day that year due to illness, I was grateful that he was still given the opportunity to attend.

I know it wouldn't be exactly the same, but could the school possibly have a small ceremony for DS either prior to the wish trip, or when he gets back from it? Maybe have a little cake just for him and a party?

And I'm sure they videotape the actual day of the ceremony, so perhaps they can make sure you get a copy of it, since you will be away on that day.

Thinking healthy/happy thoughts on DS's upcoming wish trip!


Mitzi said...

I pray every night for your Dear Son. I hope he is able to go on the trip to Florida and you get to see lots of smiles.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's excessive to just ask about moving the trip. You can ask. These things happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. There is no reason why he should not be able to do both and it must be so frustrating that the two events are falling on the same day.

I second the idea of a graduation day in his classroom. It's not the same, of course, but it can be special too.


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