Moments & Milestones
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” (Dr. Seuss)
Today was an incredible day for our family. Yael graduated from 5th grade this morning. I am so proud of my daughter and I found myself filled with so many emotions as I watched this beautiful young lady sitting up on the podium. To say that she was beaming would be the understatement of the year. She truly lit up the room.
I remember when Yael was first diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. As a parent, so many questions raced through my mind. Among them, I often found myself wondering about what her school experience would be like. Would she be able to learn in a “typical” school setting, alongside her peers? Would she be able to make friends & truly feel a part of any school community?
When you have a child with autism, you learn very quickly to take each day as it comes. The big picture can be so overwhelming & frightening, that you simply can’t take it all in. I can tell you in all honesty that I would have never predicted that my Yael would be where she is today. I wouldn’t have even dared to dream it.
Yael has been able to learn alongside her “typical” peers. She receives a lot of support, both academically & socially, in order to help her succeed. But, the truth is that most of what she has accomplished has been done with sheer grit & determination. Even when the work was so hard, and the stress level incredibly high (for both her & her parents) she never once gave up. Not once! And today, as she stood on the podium, I believe that she herself was truly aware of all that she had accomplished.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” There was once a time I didn’t dare to imagine what my daughter’s life would be like. That is no longer true. I dream big dreams for her and I encourage her to dream them for herself. I don’t want to glorify it & I don’t wear rose-colored glasses. She & I both know that she will have to work a million times harder than everybody else to achieve her goals. There will be failures & stumbles along the way, as it has been from the beginning of this journey. But that doesn’t seem to stop her. She is like the little engine that could–climbing up that mountain saying, “I think I can, I think I can…” and when her engine starts to sputter & she’s running low on fuel…it is up to her dad and me to keep pushing her upward & onward.
And so to my Yael~I am crying as I write this. The love & pride that I feel is so immense, I feel as if my heart could just burst. You have come so far, you have fought so hard & you have taught us all so much. I promise to continue believing in all that you can be. “I think you can, I think you can, I truly, truly think you can.”
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” (Shel Silverstein)