This guest post is from Becky Hall who has a special story she would like to share.
My son Matt is 26. He was diagnosed with classic autism at 28 months. He has had a troubled life, very nervous and stressed out over many things we wouldn't understand. I raised him alone, along with my daughter, Marcie, who is 14 months older. With Marcie, he always had a friend. And it was a good thing, because he didn't really have any other friends. Not until he was in 8th grade and joined our local Special Olympics team, the South Lyon Special Stars. We became heavily involved in Special Stars, myself as the secretary, and my husband as a coach. Matt has enjoyed bowling, soccer, swimming, track and field and all the FRIENDS that he has made!
He also made a couple of friends once he got to high school, friends that were in what they called the CI program. Those kids weren't attending school for academics,they were in "life skills" all day long. Matt was on the diploma track, so he was in that class only one hour a day, basically for social skills and life skills. He met a few friends there. One was a very sweet young lady with Cerebral Palsy named Andrea.
Andrea is in a wheelchair, and can't walk, but they became fast friends. Matt went on to earn his diploma. He graduated at age 19, only because he wasn't ready for kindergarten the first year he was eligible, so I kept him back one year, let him stay in the PPI program, and just visit the kindergarten to get used to it first.
He had a one-on-one aide all the way up until 8th grade, when we started to phase it out as he grew in confidence and abilities. The school originally wanted to send him "out of district" with all the other kids with autism, to a self-contained classroom, instead of kindergarten. I thought about Matt being in that classroom and never getting a chance to learn to do math, or read, or write reports, like I knew he could. You could just tell he WANTED to learn. He had already taught himself how to read. I decided I wanted him to be mainstreamed with a full time aide. I fought the school when they said they couldn't do it, when I pointed out the fact that they would be giving up the money for him from the state, PLUS the money they would have to pay the other district to take him, plus the expense of bussing him there. I knew they could hire someone much cheaper than that, and they finally agreed with me.
He has earned not one, but TWO Associate's Degrees at the college, and is now taking classes "just for fun."
AND HE'S ENGAGED! He and Andrea have kept in touch all these years. They have been dating for 3 and a half years and plan to get married in September! We are trying to plan a wedding that will be inexpensive, as none of us are rolling in dough, and they've decided it will be "potluck." We are hoping her family is going to help with the expenses, but that is really up in the air right now. Instead of a honeymoon, they want the whole family to join them in going to Walt Disney World.
Matt is now ready to settle now down with the love of his life. Matt still struggles with his autism from time to time but we hope that one day he could get a job in Data Entry. He’s a fantastic typist.