by Laura McKenna, HuffPost
Draped in black polyester robes, millions of high school seniors will march across a football field later this month to collect their diplomas ― the exit slip from the neighborhood school that dominated their lives for 15 years. It’s also a finish line of sorts for the tearful parents who believe that they completed the nearly two-decade-long job of raising a quality human being. It’s a time of pride, triumph and butterflies about the future.
My husband and I will be two of those tearful parents of a high school graduate in a couple of weeks. We are beyond proud of our boy, Ian. But our pride is mingled with some irritation and resentment because students with disabilities like my son do not always feel included in this month of graduation parties and rituals. They often remain on the outskirts of school life, even during this special time.
My son Ian is on the autism spectrum, a disability that affects social skills, so he did not have a partner or group of friends to join him at prom earlier this month. Instead, his older brother, Jonah, took the day off from his summer job to escort Ian to the prom. While schools may be slow to find a place for families like mine, sometimes a good-natured big brother can make a difference.