Where did the time go?

Now, I am not a writer, and never did I think in a million years that I would be writing a blog.  But my story is just one of many and by starting this blog I hope to encourage and connect with other parents just like me.
So, as I sit here and stare at a picture of my son’s grade 8 graduation, I think to myself, “Wow, where did the time go?”  But I also think, “Did I do enough for him?” As a mother of a child with a moderate intellectual disability and epilepsy, I have for many years gone over and over again in my mind, thinking about the child that I didn’t have.  I was so focused on ways to help him with his many therapies that I lost focus on encouraging him to be who he truly was. At his graduation, I watched child after child receive their diploma, some with honours, some with awards with little blurbs about them, and then my child graduated, but with an achievement of what? That’s what I asked myself, “What is he graduating from?” As harsh as that may seem to some, that is how I felt. 
I remember looking over at my son, pretty much one of the smallest kids, and he had a huge smile on his face.  He looked like he understood that this was a huge achievement, but I wondered, “What does he really think deep inside?”
I didn’t even know anything was wrong until he was in grade 1 and his teacher said to me, “ Has he ever been in school?” I was so taken aback by the question, and thought to myself, “What does she mean?  Of course he had been in school!” I had no idea how far behind he was. By this time, he had already been diagnosed with epilepsy and we were already dealing with so much. 
After that conversation, everything changed.  Suddenly, I was having meetings with the teacher, principal,  SERT, and visiting a different school that could accommodate his needs.  This school had a specific classroom (I had no idea that there were different classes).  It was called an ‘Associate Class’. It was a class of children from low functioning to high functioning levels. I looked around and felt sick to my stomach and a huge wave of sadness came over me. This is where they think he should be?  This is where he was going to thrive? They told me he would get all the help he needed to learn – things such as speech and occupational therapy. So, I listened to them and off he went to a class that, in the long run, felt like a babysitting class.
He was in the ‘associate/life skills’ classes until he graduated in grade 8, and all those services that were going to “help” him were absolutely useless.  Most of the time his issues weren’t as severe, so the class just gave the teacher strategies to help. The decision to send him there is a decision I wish I would have made differently. 
My son likes to watch movies. So much so that he repeats the movie every day, and this is how it’s been since he was 4-years-old.  He is obsessed with movies. For ten years I continually asked him to stop or avoided allowing him to watch movies because I didn’t want the obsession to start. One day he turned to me and said, “Mom, it’s my thing.” It took me ten years, until his graduation day, to finally realize that he is who he is, and that I needed to support, guide and understand him, while embracing the child that I have.
So, what was he graduating from, what had he achieved?  He achieved what every other child achieved; he learned his ABC’s, and 123’s.  He learned to share, he learned to read, write, and do math. Did he learn like everyone else?  No, and he did not learn at the level he should, but he was graduating just like the others. I lost sight of his achievements because his achievements weren’t the same as the child I didn’t have. 
Today Cameron continues to achieve every day.  Every day he is smarter and every day he learns.  We may take a little longer to get where his potential may be, but I know to embrace every single goal, whether great or small.
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