Shall He Walk?

There are many questions for myself today. But, I have very few answers.

Riley is transition to the middle school this fall, despite my pleas that his current placement is the right match for him. At this point he must move on to the next phase of his schooling career. My quandary today is whether Riley should walk in the graduation ceremony with the General Education Fifth Graders?

These past two weeks the newsfeed from all the special needs groups and even the feeds of my friends have been proudly displaying photos and memories of their own special needs child participating in graduation. I cannot find myself committing to the event. Riley, my husband and myself have worked so hard to get to achieve this. It is difficult to express the many emotions I feel now. I must decide, I cannot simply let the moment pass without giving it some recognition.

Over the years, I have advocated, or rather fought, for Riley to have an appropriate education and environment. He has learned and gained so much since those first pathetic days in VPK when he could barely last the day and I felt like unwelcome problems. We deserve to celebrate.

Riley and Ronan on Memorial Day 2015

Riley and Ronan on Memorial Day 2015

But, do I care about a Graduation Ceremony?

Is Riley actually a member of the graduating class? A few of the students have spent time in the classroom by spending their hard won points, gator dollars, or whatever their reward system is. Many more of seen Riley pass through the hallways or share in the music class somewhere in the back. Even fewer of the parents of any awareness that a class exists in their school called “Functional Skills.”

Do I want to witness the awkward attempt to display Riley as an actual member of the Fifth Grade? Always set apart simply as a nature of the wheelchair and his disabilities. He will not sing or recite with the group. He will not gratefully grasp his diploma and smile for the camera. He will not thank his teacher for her dedication.

Will I feel a slight stab with each celebrated moment as a healthy child with hope and ambitions takes the stage? Am I selfish to not want to witness this?

If I do not send Riley to Graduation, am I depriving his teacher and all the staff who work so hard to support his efforts? In truth, their accomplishments far outweigh the achievements of each other teacher who will be standing by with pride.

Does Riley care if he graduates? Is this time and energy well spent considering the few precious days left in the classroom with the teacher who has done so much for us?

Should I do this simply to make a statement that Riley’s participation matters?

Am I simply wallowing in self-pity? Or am I being realistic that this doesn’t really matter. Was graduation really ever our goal? No, not really.

How many times along this journey have I been the first mom to put my child out there? To be everywhere the other families of special needs children did not go. I am the parent who fought to have the right school, the right class, the right people and simply to have rights.

Why is this graduation ceremony not a priority for me?

It appears that I actually had no answers for myself at all.

I do not know what to do!
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2 Responses to Shall He Walk?

  1. Adam says:

    Do it!!! Don’t regret not taking him in the future.

    • Stacie says:

      Thank you Adam:-) We did have a wonderful celebration with the other ESE families. I will make more of an effort to integrate Riley with the typical students. He has much to share with them too.

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