Graduation Day

Yesterday was my twins, Thomas’ and Benjamin’s (18) school graduation lunch. They have been at their special needs school for 7 years.
The boys had a wonderful day of celebration. They may not have many exam passes to boast of although we were told that Benjamin had just been awarded a distinction in his level 2 drama. A huge personal achievement for him.
For us, it was about celebrating the past 7 years and who our boys have become in that time. They had been through their primary education at fantastic local mainstream school accompanied by their ABA tutors. Moving schools and no longer having 1:1 help was a huge step.
Changing schools meant they had to manage alone, although within small classes and with teachers who understood them. They needed to learn to work independently and to take responsibility for themselves. It was a hard transition but one we felt was necessary.  It is stigmatising for some children to be accompanied by one to one support at mainstream secondary. We wanted our boys to no longer feel ‘different’. To be like everyone else in their class instead of always being the ‘special needs child’.
For the first few years, it was hard for them to adapt. Change is always hard and harder still when you don’t have your own personal support by your side. Being twins did not help. They were thrown together for the first time for years. They had to travel together in a taxi. They were in the same class together. They had always been in separate classes until now and even different nursery schools long ago. Rather than being a support to each other, they resented having to be together so much.
Over the years, they slowly made friendships. They forged strong bonds with many of the teachers. A small school has its advantages in many ways. The boys were nurtured in a safe, cohesive atmosphere.
In the past few years, they have become young adults. The dramatic change has only really happened in the last year. Suddenly, they are no longer boys. They have become adults. Not just physically, but in their demeanour, their outlook on life.
They talk of the things they want to do. The people they want to become. They are looking to the future now and not just living in the present which they did for many years.
The graduation was a very special day. We were able to celebrate just how far our boys had come since they started there seven years ago. It is not just about exam results. Life is about celebrating personalities and social skills and all those attributes with no grades attached.
We are proud of our boys for overcoming so many difficulties. They are polite. They are kind. They care about other people. They try their utmost in everything they do. They have some qualifications because they worked so hard to achieve them.  Thomas is a super fast runner because he trains nearly every day and is so determined. That determination has also driven him to pass maths exams and to learn how to handle his own emotions. Benjamin practises his drumming every day. He works so hard to aquire knowledge and skills both within and out of school. He too has the same determinaton to succeed.
We were so proud of them yesterday. They were so proud of themselves too.

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