recently. Sixteen years after receiving an autism spectrum diagnosis and working tirelessly with a team of experts, therapists, public school and private educators, our son told us it was time to let him go. And so we did. As we drove away from his college dorm, we prayed that his “Launch” would be successful. Was he prepared? Had we done enough? Was the training and preparation sufficient? Would he be successful and return intact?
I am happy to report that the “Launch” of our second son to college was successful. Of course, there were problems, setbacks and late night calls to “Houston.” And this new mission is still in progress, with three years to go until completion. But given his initial diagnosis years ago and the projected path at that time, this recent “Launch” was nothing short of a miracle. We pray that the road leading up to this point has provided all of us with the lessons and training necessary to successfully complete this mission. Among the most important lessons for our son have been those focused on communication, problem solving, self-advocacy and independent living skills. Within those lessons, there have been exhilarating moments of success and countless, painful failures too. Remarkably, the gift of RESILIENCE has emerged from all of that. The key elements along the way have been preparation, teamwork, positive energy, sacrifice, perseverance and assumption of risk. And of course, contingency plans for the inevitable disasters. And then, in the final hour, taking a deep breath, embracing the countdown, and letting go.
Janine Kelly, JD, is a special education advocate in Connecticut, where she has been supporting children with disabilities and their families for over 12 years. She lives in Wilton, CT with her husband, two college-age sons, teenage daughter and their Westie terrier, Rey.
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