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The journey of a special needs parent is both stunningly beautiful and utterly heartbreaking. Often with one coming closely on the heels of the other or at the same time. I have made my peace that our parenting journey doesn’t look like everyone else’s. But it doesn’t mean this year is an easy one.

This year my son should be in his senior year of high school with senior pictures, parties, and all the fun senior things to look forward to. It should be a year of celebration. But our year isn’t going to look like that.

RELATED: Older Kids with Special Needs Can Get Overlooked, and it’s Lonely

Instead, he started 10th grade over again because he didn’t quite have enough credits last year completed to finish it. He was already behind, but he was one point away from being able to pass his pre-algebra class after taking the class for the fourth time. The good news is that we switched tutors to one who specializes in learning difficulties and after taking it for a fifth time, he passed with an A.

We tried to get him a summer job last summer to start edging him into the adult world. But that didn’t happen between state funding being cut so they couldn’t do the job placement program we had been working toward, and mom only having spare minutes here and there to help him learn how to fill out applications. He got a call back from one, but when he called them and spoke to them, they brushed him off.

I have learned I need to work at his pace, and his pace isn’t being a graduating senior this year. The fact that he has made it this far despite literally sleeping through his entire middle school experience is honestly a miracle.

RELATED: My Son Won’t Grow out of Autism but He Is Growing into Himself

But it doesn’t mean I won’t be grieving what could have been this year. When I see the senior pictures, when I see the graduation invitations, my heart is going to hurt. He won’t be leaving for college in the fall or getting his first apartment.

I’ll be over here cheering him on. Cheering that he finally passed his pre-algebra class. Cheering because he finally had a semester when he passed every single class! Cheering that he made it to 11th grade mid-year. Cheering that if he continues, he should (fingers crossed) graduate next year. Our journey isn’t the typical one, but it will make the celebration all the sweeter once it gets here.

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Calleen Petersen

An Ordinary Mom who believes in standing up, speaking out, and sharing her truths. A student of psychology. I write about disabilities, parenthood, life, and my thoughts. You can find me at An Ordinary Mom's Musings.

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