Today, I watched my oldest daughter walk out our front door on her way to her first day of high school. I sat there, coffee in hand, contemplating how fast time flies and worrying about her in her new school. Would she like it? Would she feel lost? Would she be able to find her classes, and find her way to the bus in the afternoon… she hasn’t ridden the bus before. Biting my lip to keep from tearing up, I realized… there’s a quiet victory here.
Not so long ago, just a few short years , on the first day of school, I sat in the parking lot of my son’s school sobbing my heart out as he started school. He experiences autism, and needs a very high level of support. I didn’t know that day if he would be safe, if they would be able to keep him from running out of the school, or from hurting himself or others. I was terrified he wouldn’t be alive at the end of the day when I picked him up. I remember that pain as fresh as if it were today, fear slicing through me like a knife. I didn’t know that day that some of those fears I had that morning would soon come true, that Steven would run out of the school, that he would be put in harm’s way.
The next year, on the first day of school, I remember sitting in the parking lot of Steven’s new school. I had just taken a tour when I dropped him off. This school was the most restrictive setting our district had to offer. Steven wasn’t safe at the other school they said. He wasn’t safe, and others weren’t safe. I remember tears welling up in my eyes as I toured their “safe” room, with its electronic locks and no windows. We have the ability to keep him IN this school, by any means necessary they told me. Oh how they were wrong. I remember crying my eyes out all the way to work that morning. Not sure of what was to come. How I wish I had been wrong about my fears for that place. My worries did come true, and he would soon be placed in that safe room many, many times per day. He was able to run away from that school too, and soon found himself being physically restrained over and over every single day.
Today… my first thought was that of my oldest daughter, and her high school adventures. What a victory, to not be in fear. To not have my son’s life hanging in the balance. To know he is safe, and cared for. That he is respected and happy. What a few years we have had.
It hasn’t been easy to say the least. We have fought every step of the way and put everything we have into what we have accomplished as a family… but today we celebrate. I kissed my son goodbye today with a happy heart on his first day of the 3rd grade. He will walk freely into that typical school, and happily run to his classroom. He will get to meet the children of his “sister classroom” where he will spend a few hours each day in a typical environment. I am confident he will not run away, or be restrained. I know he will have fun and see his friends from last year. I am so proud of him and his hard work. I am so proud of our family and the mountains we have climbed.
It really goes to show that no matter how dark your days may seem… and no matter how bad things can get… there’s always hope for brighter days. Never give up!
Today we celebrate!
This post was written by BreeAnn Davis, parent and former Board President of Stone Soup Group. Thank you for sharing your story BreeAnn!