High school graduation. It's something we never really thought about with John. He turned 21 this school year, so this is his last year of school. But he's never been in a regular school, and even in his present setting, it's still not regular school. For the last 2 years he's been going to a regular high school, but in a completely separate wing for handicapped children. Anyhow, I was confused when they asked who would be walking him across the stage at graduation. Because it's not really graduation (for him), as he will only get a certificate of attendance. It's been more like supervised day care for the past 18 years. Yes 18 years, he's been in one school or another since he was 3, just after we discovered he was autistic.
John does not read, write, or talk, so there were are no academics. No homework, no tests, no midterms, no dissecting frogs. No cars, no dating, no drugs, no alcohol. No phone calls from giggly girls. That's not to say they're weren't other things. One time a group of teenage girls came to the door and asked if John could come out with them. They'd seen him at the playground (with us). We delicately explained things, and they never came back. How bout that? We've gotten all the usual junk mail for John, credit card applications, exchange student programs, college scholarship scams. Only last month an Army recruiter called and wanted to discuss options to help John get his high school diploma. They all feel really stupid once I've clued them in on his condition.
But John is an adult now, but with a toddlers mind; a victim (I am convinced) of vaccines. At times though John does incredible things. For example, we also have an infant daughter. We were not sure how John was gonna react to her. Generally, we guessed he would treat her like she was an inanimate object and ignore her. Or maybe he'd react to her the same as he does to animals, be afraid and stays away from them. To our surprise, John's showed a distinct likeness for his baby sister. Under supervised conditions, John has changed her diaper, and helped dress and feed her. He's also held her (sitting on the bed), and held her bottle to her mouth. All this for just a minute, as the novelty wears off that quick. Nonetheless, he knows that she's a person. That's a huge step for a severely autistic person. His baby sister, only 4 months old, laughs and smiles at him as well.
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