He was so young. And he was struggling.
His parents reached out to me for help. He was transitioning to kindergarten and concerns were high. It was the start of a collaboration that lasted for several years.
Many evaluations. Many IEP meetings. Many discussions with clinicians. Many nights of e-mails and conversations with his parents.
From the moment I met this young child, it was clear that kindness and resilience were his calling cards. He never gave in or gave up. And neither did his parents.
They gave public school a solid chance. Countless IEP revisions, observations, services, supports, and strategies. It simply was not working and through many hours of negotiations, a private placement was secured. For one year. Then two. Then several. I remember leaving the initial IEP meeting when the district finally agreed to this placement feeling as though I helped to win a war. It was a feeling that simply cannot be described.
He was making progress. And so was his mother, who was his front-line advocate. Teaching her how to navigate the complexities of special education, how to use business skills in IEP meetings, how to ask the right questions. This was a key part of my role. And learn she did. She soared.
Over the years, she would update me occasionally on his progress. I was always delighted to hear from her and she never failed to thank me for my role in helping to secure this private placement. I appreciated her kind words, yet it was a collaborative effort as it always needs to be. This family, from the start, lived in my heart.
And then, a few days ago, I received another e-mail. This one included pictures of his high school graduation, that he received several awards, and was heading to college.
To say that tears streamed down my face would be an understatement. This sweet little boy had grown into a capable young man about to pursue his dreams. And while Covid19 prevented me from attending his high school graduation - a promise I made to his parents so many years ago, the photos were a close second.
I'm sharing this personal story because there are three key messages that I speak consistently to parents and they bear repeating yet again:
Never. Give. Up.
Set the bar high...and keep it there.
You know your child best.
The future remains a mystery so while focusing on today must be the priority, keep your eyes firmly on tomorrow. It will be here before you know it and remember that all things are possible.