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Friday, May 24, 2013

Graduation Ceremonies Accommodating Students With Disabilities

Two things I never do.  Write long posts or rant.
Here I've done both.  Tomorrow the short and sweet
will resume.  But for now, grab a cup of coffee.
And thanks for taking the time...


Harry, helping Spencer model his graduation cap


In the middle of all the fun celebrations this month, I've had some
 heartache.  Parents of disabled children learn from the beginning
 that some people can be caring and loving and some not so much!
It's just part of the journey, and you learn that early on.

But when someone close to your kids does something,
 it can really throw you for a loop.  (Now that is a really strange expression, isn't it?  
Throw you for a loop?  Sounds like a 'Fun With
Words' post in the making...stay tuned! ha.)

 I got a call from someone at school about  graduation. 
  She said that she and the principal thought that the
  boys would "be too much of a distraction" to the guests and that
 they wouldn't be sitting with the rest of the graduates on stage
and maybe not be walking  in the processional, either.  
It would better for them to sit separate, down in the main seating.

I was really taken aback during this phone call and tried to clarify who
would be distracted and why.  I'd never heard of anyone at school being
 worried about people being uncomfortable or distracted by disabled
students.  Aren't they usually their advocate? Wanting to educate the
world about acceptance, tolerance and love?  Championing their rights and eager
 to celebrate their lives and accomplishments? 
I clarified again with her if the principal was in agreement.  She said yes!
But she said that any conversations about graduation should come
to her and that she would relay any information to the principal.
But we know the principal personally and it didn't sound like her
at all.  I didn't want to have a knee-jerk reaction, so I waited
and told the family about it over dinner that night.  I was working
an auction later that week and one of my friends who works with
me is also on the school board.  And not only that, she has a
disabled brother that went through our same school system.
Perfect person to ask for advice!

At the auction, I told my friend what had happened.  She said to
let her handle it (after I peeled her off the ceiling. ha).
That night she let all the proper people know what was going on.
The principal called me, the school administrator talked to me and the school board
 let me know... that they were NOT in agreement with any
 such idea!  And news travels fast in our little village...
I heard later that the senior class was about to
start a petition to have our boys participate in graduation
in every way any other student would!  Now that is sweet, isn't it?
Sweet, but sad, that the students were more accepting than an adult?

We as a society have a long way to go if we accept disabled kids only
 if they are kept away from the 'normal' people so that they aren't bothered,
 made uncomfortable or inconvenienced.  The idea that a child with autism might
 make a funny sound or their rocking in their
seat might ruin an event for someone in the audience is a sad one.
But I'm glad to see that the next generation here did not agree, nor
 did the school board or administration.  And I'm really glad my boys
 don't know or feel the hurt that the rest of us in the family feel.

Some people might feel that their graduation isn't quite as important as
 a 'normal' student getting a diploma and venturing off to college.  But
I think that in some ways, my boys' getting through 13 years of school
might be even more of an accomplishment!  You try living with a 
perfectly normal brain that is trapped in a body that won't allow you to
talk or communicate like other people.  With odd sound,
smell, and touch sensitivities that can be overwhelming.  Years of
trying new medicines and weaning out ones that make you feel
worse, weird, or sleepy. Social awkwardness and lack of communication skills
 make it almost impossible to make friends, play sports, and so many
other things!  And if you can do it for 13 years and almost always have a
pleasant attitude, rarely miss a day of school, do your work, try your
hardest and still have a smile on your face, then by golly, your
graduation is probably more of an accomplishment than your classmates!

Because of that, Saturday we're having our boys in their caps and gowns! 
 And with a little direction, they will walk across the stage and get their diplomas.
Because we're proud of them.
Because they deserve it.
Because we love them.
Because getting them through life so far has been hard.
And nobody is going to dampen our celebration!

Remember the boys' graduation open house earlier
this month?  Well, all of this drama happened days before it!
And when I said that the people that came, gave gifts and
hugs and encouragement meant SO much to us, it was
because this was on our minds, too.  And we soaked up
all the love and acceptance and whispers of affirmation
in our ears that no such thing would be allowed to happen.
It made us smile and filled us with hope that the majority
does care. Our boys are accepted, loved and celebrated.
 And we are grateful.

Say a prayer for us Saturday night, won't you?  Thanks, friends! 
I'll take lots of pictures and let you know how it goes!

*****

"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.
It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community,
not my world, not my problem.'  Then there are those who
see the need and respond.  I consider those people my heroes."

~Fred Rogers



142 comments:

  1. OK this post made me cry. Tears are in my eyes as I type my comment. But I am also furious at the person who told you it would better for them not to participate in the full extent of the ceremony.
    UGH! It bugs the heck out of me when people can't see that, with practice, those three boys will do great Saturday.
    When my sons graduated, there were handicapped students in their graduation class. Those were the students who, even though it was against the rules, got a standing ovation from their peers.
    I hope your three get one too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. well, I've cried, too...but have been more angry than anything. Thanks for crying with me. They will do great and I think 99% of the people there will appreciate and encourage us. Still very sad, though, isn't it?

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  2. someone should lose their job over this...
    sorry i have little compassion for....(erased words)....and someone lying to cover their own ignorance....oy, you have me steamed up....

    i hope all goes well saturday....grrr.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what we think, too! If you knew what position she held, you'd flip.

      I was told I would be getting an apology, but frankly when it's forced, it won't mean much. I didn't accept a call the first day...I had no desire to speak to her. I texted her and said the following week would be better, but it's been 15 days and she hasn't attempted to call again.

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  3. Girl you have a lawsuit there. I am special needs advocate - not a lawyer, but THEY CANNOT DO THAT. Glad the principal was not in on this! Amen to the wonderful people out there and boo to that woman. sandie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was only one...NOBODY was in agreement with her. I think the rest were appalled. I'm curious what disciplinary action will be taken!

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  4. This post really shook me up. I would love to be alone with this woman for just five minutes to tell her what a jerk she is. I hope she gets everything she deserves. Congratulations to you and your boys on their graduation. What a beautiful milestone! Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Janelle...and I'll gladly take that hug! :)

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  5. I always find it interesting that the 'so called' people with disabilities are always smiling, and us 'so called' normal people have tons of issues and hang-ups. Life is all about how things are viewed.

    In the movie JAWS, Oceanographer Matt Hooper says to chief Brody, "It doesn't make much sense for a guy who is afraid of the water to live on an island." Brody replies, "It's only an island if you look at it from the water."

    In my opinion, that's how it is with disabilities. No one is disabled until someone looks down upon them. There's room for everyone in this world!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you always say the wisest things. :)

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    2. People don't usually tell me that. lol

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    3. haha...stop by any time and I'll gladly tell you again. :)

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  6. I am stunned by the remarks of this "someone at school". Almost speechless. And amazed by such insensitivity and ignorance. What I am going to carry with me is that smile on Spencer's face as he models his graduation cap. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I thought we'd better practice with the caps just in case they didn't like them! haha...but Spencer loved it. And I shouldn't have put my camera down because Harry pulled it off of Spencer and put it on and ran through the house with it like it was so cool! ha. I think they remember Taylor's graduation a few weeks ago and maybe they thought all those college grads were cool! :)

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  7. Aaaagh!!!
    This kind of thing is so upsetting! I can see why you were hurt and why your friend needed to be peeled off the ceiling. I find it even more irritating because of the sneaky way she tried to do this.
    It's so cool that their classmates were ready to start a petition. That part of this story makes me smile. I have a feeling your boys will get loads of applause as they walk across the stage. I think they deserve a standing ovation - and so do you and the Mister for that matter!
    Praying that all goes well and that you are all able to take in all the joy that goes with graduation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's really something. ...and very sneaky. :( It happened on May 9th, so you can see I haven't been able to talk about it before now. I loved, too, that the class was going to start a petition. I think that's my favorite part. Well, that, and that the superintendent and principal came to their open house, bearing gifts and lots of support. I guess we're seeing the best and the worst. :)

      thanks for praying for Saturday night....I want them to do well and I want us to be able to enjoy it! :)

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    2. I give you credit for not talking right away. I'm afraid I would have been making quite a fuss. I really hope this woman has some repercussions from her behavior. You better keep us updated!

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    3. I tend to make my fusses later. :) They haven't heard the last from me...this is too important to let go and that kind of mindset needs to be stopped before another family has to go through it. Don't worry...I'll keep you updated.

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  8. I think think the person who said they could not join the
    others has made more commotion and disturbance than your boys ever could could have made,, shame on them, and they are the adults, good grief!!!
    you made tears come to my eyes, thank goodness there are still more good than bad people in this world, I will keep you all in my prayers,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there is more good than bad...that is so true! And I have felt that the last couple of weeks. :)

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  9. We've come a long way since my brother was a little boy. He wasn't even allowed to go to school at all. Instead, when he turned five, he had to watch the others go out to catch the bus without him, and he cried. My mother cried too. One of her friends had a son with down syndrome. When Mark reached school age, his mother took him down to the school and insisted he be allowed to participate. Slowly things began to change. It's sad that after fifty years there are still those who think exclusion is the answer.

    Congratulations to you and your boys! I can't wait to see the pictures!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure your brother at 5 didn't understand why he couldn't go to school with everyone else. Aww...that breaks my heart.

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  10. Wow what a load of crap
    That that (bad words) let flap
    Ignorant a holes
    Should be hung by their ears on flag poles
    As graduation night comes due
    Then they can be far away and not have to worry about a "commotion" coming due
    If no discipline is taken at all
    There at the school hall
    Besides a forced, "oopsy sorry about that"
    Sue the arse off the old bat
    Because if she stays there
    Once again she will blare
    The same old crap
    To some other family on the map
    And they may buy her spiel
    Run over her foot and make her squeal lol
    See you can't rant away too
    Just as mouthy as my zoo hahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look at you
      with your own rant coming due!
      It is pretty bad
      and really sad.
      Thanks for joining in
      and proclaiming it a sin!

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    2. If I ever need protection,
      you and Kim would win the election!
      Hanging by ears and slashing tires?
      You two would certainly be hired!
      hahaha.

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  11. Dignity and Grace is just how you handled this. I wouldn't of expected anything less. "She" could learn a lot from YOU!

    Prayers all over this country will be said for you and your family. Come Saturday, I wish I could be in there with my bull horn!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. all over this country and around the world....when ever we ask, all of blogland surrounds us, doesn't it? I love that.

      A bull horn? hahahaha....you are so cute. :)

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  12. Oh Betsy! I can't believe any teacher would act in such a terrible way!! I'm so sorry you had to put up with that. I'm sure Saturday will be a wonderful day and you should be SO proud!!
    Mary x

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    Replies
    1. thanks mary....It will be wonderful and we are proud!

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  13. Tears streamed down my face as I read this. I can't believe people can be so ignorant and cruel! My oldest Katelyn was diagnosed with autism 2 years ago and today she graduated from Preschool. I was so proud of her. I can't imagine how proud you and your family are of the boys.

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    1. I did not know that about Katelyn! Aww...I'm so sorry. Graduating from preschool is fun! I hope she's had a great experience and will do well as she starts kindergarten! She will do great...especially with you as her mom, Lori. I have no doubts about that! :)

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  14. But Spencer looks sooooo good in his cap! Who wouldn't want him up there??? Ugh, people who are self absorbed and all about appearances really grind my gears. I love, LOVE that the student body were planning on standing up for the boys. It really touched me. They deserve to be up on that stage, and I guarantee there won't be a dry eye in the house when your handsome men walk to receive there diplomas. I'm excited for your sweet family.

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    1. I know...doesn't he look cute? He just made me laugh at how he loved it and smiled. The student petition was my favorite part...mature, sweet kids. Good for them. It's soooo great to see you, too, Nat. Hope you're doing well.

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  15. Oh my Betsy! I haven't visited in a really long time but this was the right time. I am going to quote my 30 year old disabled son "mean people suck"!
    God Bless your family and congrats to the boys! People can be so cruel and just plain hateful. I know your day will be special. We will be saying a prayer.

    Big hugs,
    Barb

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    Replies
    1. Hi Barb! Well, that was providential timing, I think! Thanks so much for your comment. Now, you know...I knew about the military son, but not the disabled son! Bug hugs back to you! xo

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  16. I agree with every other commenter. Hope that woman gets what she deserves :-)

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  17. Im so proud of you Betsy and the boys:))))) and this woman suck!hope she learn some day something about love and support! And Im happy the others dont agree with her,and Im agree with you!! After 13 years at at school!!
    I think Spencer look amazing and love his smile:))
    Dont worry betsy Im sure God is always close to you and this is really matter:)
    love
    gloria

    ReplyDelete
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    1. thanks, dear. :) Spencer does look amazing! haha...he makes me laugh.

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    2. All will be fine Betsy and they are amazing and lovely!!

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    3. I love Kim's comment about graduations being boring and the boys will just liven it up! hahahaha!

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    4. ha! yes here are boring too!
      i
      I love this comment:)

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    5. Kim is so sweet and funny! haha.

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  18. I feel like screaming, shouting ... making a huge fuss.. a big rant! But I know it's not appropriate to do so here. You and your husband handled a difficult situation like the very classy folks you are! Saturday and graduation will be one splendid day for all of you!

    (I probably shared this long ago, but here goes again.) Carl as you know was mainstreamed when he began junior high school. All special ed classes. With one brother a year ahead, the other a year behind we didn't have too many worries about him being picked on, bullied, made fun of. On a beautiful night in Minneapolis at graduation which is held outdoors in the football stadium, a huge roar went up from the crowd when "CARL DEHNER" was called up to receive his diploma. Bless his heart, he got all confused and walked in the wrong direction ... I will NEVER forget the look on his face or the sweet response from the audience. Hang onto the good times, Betsy ... more to come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anyone way past their prime (YOUR words, not mine! LOL!!!) is allowed to scream, shout, fuss and rant whenever they want! hahaha!!!!!!

      I love that story about Carl, and no, I had not heard about his graduation. That is such a cute story! I have heard about his siblings watching out for him...love that!

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  19. Bravo Betsy and all your 5 Men...
    Those 3 lovable boys will look adorable as they get their diplomas...
    Gosh...I almost feel like a part of your situation...
    Thanks for including us all!!
    Have the best time on Saturday...you all deserve it!

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, linda! Blog friends are so great...we all share the good and bad with each other! And I appreciate that a lot.

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  20. I want only to say congratulations to Harry, Spencer and Alex and wish them a happy experience at graduation being themselves.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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    Replies
    1. thanks bonnie...you are so sweet. I appreciate that!

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  21. That one woman's actions are infuriating and sad. But, I am heartened that it was only one person who felt that way. I'm so glad that you got so much support from everyone else including the principal on down, and the fact that the students at school were moved to action speaks volumes about their character, and that of their parents.

    I hope you won't need to rant again, but this was a post well worth reading.

    Best to you, the boys, and the whole family on Saturday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes..the students will go far in life....having a huge heart is one of the best things you can leave high school with! And thanks for reading this, too! :)

      Delete
  22. This post is beautiful but at the same time it angers me so much that this needs to be an issue. This didn't need to be an issue in the first place, there is nothing distracting or wrong at all about any of your boys that means that they shouldn't be able to be allowed to celebrate their graduation with everybody else and it angers me that people made this an issue in the first place. Really hope that you enjoy the graduation Betsy, I know that you're going to be so proud of your boys, they've done amazing to overcome the hurdles their disabilities have put in front of them, there's so much to be proud of and to celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. thanks matt...I really appreciate that. I've been thinking a lot about you today...hope your day was much better than yesterday! :)

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  23. I came back and looked at the pictures of the two guys. How cute!
    Please, take and share the guys on this very special day( I know you will because you are a blogger but I am excited to see them shine!).
    Let us know about the CHEERS for them as they cross the stage.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I will. My camera is attached permanently to my hand! hahaha....You can expect a post about graduation, that is for sure.

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  24. AURrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh My ire is up now! I am not crying which I usually do when I am touched, but this has made me want to slap that woman and then kick her. I have never heard of such a senseless, truly hateful person as this to lie about who is "on board' with her. Do you know her? Holding back bodily harm, if I was there I would make sure her tires were slashed daily! arrrgggh.
    Those boys are precious and I am so anxious to see how they do! I'm so proud of them and I only know them and you thru this blog...but they are like family to me and I think to the rest of your readers!
    Everything will be great and they would be so worth seeing being given accolades for their accomplishments. Graduations are boring and they will liven all the festivities up I am sure!
    Thinking of all of you and being very proud of their accomplishment and yours and the Mister's and Taylor's!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Graduations are boring and they will liven all of it up....HAHAHA! OH, that gave me a much needed laugh! What a GREAT way to look at it. lol.... Yes, they will. Alex was making all of his happy noises tonight and I said, "I wonder if he'll do that during graduation." And Lauren said, "I hope so!" :) Thanks, Kim. I'll make sure I get a good photo of Harry for you! :)

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    2. awww thank you, Betsy!

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  25. Sounds like you handled an ugly situation, and person very well. So proud of your boys!! Would love to borrow Christine's bull horn and cheer them on.
    Hugs!

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    Replies
    1. thanks, Rebecca! If there are bull horns there, Alex will be happy he has his headset on! hahahaha....

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    2. Oops forgot about that! I'll just whisper one happy little cheer through the bull horn. :)

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    3. haha...well, Alex will have his on for sure. That thing has grown to his head. :)

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  26. This "long post and rant" was well deserved - thanks for sharing.
    I am so glad that others understand and offered support.
    Congratulations to you all

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    Replies
    1. thanks, mary! the good outnumbered the bad...and we are going to enjoy our boys and graduation!

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  27. Well, Betsy, let me just go ahead and jump on the band wagon! What a joke! I support you and your family, and especially those boys. Just from reading and following your posts, I've been amazed that they have completed their school years as successfully as they have. Stand tall. Be proud! Give them their moment in the sun!! I love you all.

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    Replies
    1. thanks so much for commenting, Don! That means a lot to me. We will stand tall and proud...their accomplishments are huge! And we love you back! :)

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  28. Wow, that's quite the story. Thank you for sharing it with us, Betsy. And to think that person was using deception to get you to avoid talking to the principal! Ugh... I know most of your blog friends delight in your boys successes and send you all hugs and love, and - yes, I will so be thinking of Harry, Spencer and Alex Saturday night!

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  29. Oh Betsy! I am so sorry to hear that you have had to go through this. I have taught students with disabilities and am still involved/friends with those students and parents. It takes really special people to raise children with disabilities! I know you are so proud of your boys, but also be proud of yourself for standing up for them!!!! I am looking forward to seeing those graduation photos!

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    Replies
    1. thanks michelle....I'm so glad you still remain in contact with your former students and their families. That means so much to them, I'm sure...it's more than a job to you and I know they appreciate it!

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  30. Oh Betsy, I'm sorry to hear about your heartache! Your boys are so dear! Bravo to them, and you guys, for coming this far! I hope Saturday goes well for all of you!

    And in the process of things perhaps "she" will get educated :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Martha...I hope she does...I really do!

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  31. Betsy...I'm in agreement with what everyone has said and I'm so saddened as well that you had to go through this. I pray that Saturday is such that the joy you have makes up for all of this stress.

    XO,
    Jane

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    Replies
    1. it has been stressful! Thanks so much, Jane....we're going to make the best of it and just enjoy our boys being themselves!

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  32. Congratulations and God bless you all Betsy. taria

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  33. What a shame this woman has brought on herself! I know that the rest of the staff at your school will never forget what she tried to do. She has to live with herself now, and that may be the best punishment.!
    I'm proud of all of you for what you've accomplished over all these years. I'm so glad for all that has happened after her disgusting phone call. Coward!--yes, she is a coward!--I could go on-------!

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    Replies
    1. thanks so much, feathers....the good certainly is outweighing the bad and we feel encouraged and blessed by so many!

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  34. Congrats to your boys Betsy, glad things are working out!

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    Replies
    1. thank you Christine...they are working out! :)

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  35. Hi Betsy - gosh I'm so pleased things have been worked out - but what an unpleasant and thoughtless aspect to have had to deal with. From my eyes ... you and your husband couldn't have done more for your boys, and their friends, your friends obviously feel and understand for you all ... Taylor (and Lauren now too) must help enormously. I congratulate you .. and am so looking forward to seeing the pictures .. Harry helping Spencer model his cap .. they look as though they're enjoying the process too.

    I shall definitely be thinking of you .. there's much love and warmth around you .. and from the many bloggers who've got to know you ... have a fun happy family time ... with some hugs from England - Hilary

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    Replies
    1. aw, thank you so much Hilary. It's been hard but very rewarding to raise our boys. And yes, Spencer ahd Harry had so much fun trying on their caps. More fun than I thought, actually..it was pretty amusing. :) Thanks for the good wishes for Saturday night!

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  36. Dear Betsy, what outraging ideas especially from a person, who should stand at your boys´ side like a rock! I am amazed, what could be her arguments!? Distraction? Even if your boys should make noises or rock their chairs during the ceremony, so what?! They are as they are and should be absolutely accepted. We are all somehow different and what is ´normal´ or ´disabled´ is mostly a matter of perspective.
    Anyway some possibly individual behaviour will not in the least be disturbing the joy and serenity of the event! And I think your boys have the right to be themselves by the way. One should absolutely see, that for them it must have been a much harder thing, to conform to so many rules, the majority of us has set up.
    To me behind that queer action of that person there seems to maybe lie a very contorted and anti-human image of ´perfection´ and ´conformity´ and of what really counts in life... At least, the ´lady´ did not draw a very favourable portrait of herself!
    But it is wonderful, the students themselves wanted to take steps to prevent this cruel isolation for your boys!
    This silly person must be absolutely lacking in compassion, sensibility, tolerance and understanding. Not to talk of caring and love! But in my opinion a school or education in general is not only about math and languages, but as much about social awareness and skills. So this "SHE" to me seems very much to be in the wrong place! I am glad, that obviously there must have been at least some teachers who must have understood their job better...
    I absolutely agree, that all of you, your boys, you, the Mister and Taylor have done a brilliant job as a devoted, warm and loving family to bring your THREE autistic boys to this point! Imagineing the millions of details involved, that must have been such an enormous task! So for me, you, dear Betsy, and your whole family is such an inspiration!
    So you have every right, to be proud and happy. My congratulations to Alex, Harry and Spencer! And to all of you. I hope, you will have a most wonderful and unforgettable day!
    Love
    Christel

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    1. Thank you so much, Christel. You are extremely insightful and kind. We're going to concentrate on what is really important and celebrate our boys. Thanks for all the encouragement...it means so much!

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  37. I can only imagine how proud of your boys you will feel Saturday night when you see them walk across that stage. I remember how I felt when mine graduated. Everyone feels like they accomplished something momentous, especially mom! Have a wonderful celebration. Who cares what a few small minded people might think. You go girl!!!

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    Replies
    1. I think you're right about we moms. To think of all the lunches packed, laundry done, sports trips, homework, sick days, science fairs, conferences, discipline, programs,...we do feel like we've accomplished something huge! ha.

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  38. Oh my! How heartbreaking to have to go through this at this happy moment in their lives. Will be praying for you all on Saturday night, knowing that God's love will shine on your family's faces. Looking forward to seeing the pictures.

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! We'll take lots of pictures. Thanks for praying! I'm sure it will go well. They did great for Taylor's graduation and that was much more formal and longer!

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  39. Oh Betsy, I'm so sad and angry that you've had to experience this. But I'm also glad that it was the ignorance of only one person who caused it. And it's so sweet that the class was ready to start a petition. I'm sure the boys will do great and you have every reason to be proud! I'll be sending lots of prayers your way for Saturday!

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    1. thanks, dawn! I can feel those prayers already! :)

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  40. There will always be someone who doesn't understand things. There will always be someone who can't see through the differences. There will always be someone who will cause a problem. Fortunately Betsy, you have more than enough "someones" that can see through the differences and understand things. Your incredible trio here just proved all those "other" someones wrong, didn't they? They overcame their differences and difficulties! I was appalled when I read the opening to this! But now...I'm happy there was a good outcome from it all :) Here's to your three men! May they continue to dispel what those "someones" think! God bless!

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    1. Hey Todd. OK..first I must say that your looks have drastically changed since I saw you last. A redhead, how, eh? haha.

      Thanks so much for those wise words and encouragement...truly. I appreciate it a lot. I'm overwhelmed with all the support and good wishes here..it really is encouraging!

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    2. Heh...I really need to update my avatar, don't I?

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    3. Only if you don't look like that any longer. hahaha.

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  41. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Tears for the undeserved hurts that you and your family have born... Tears that there are people in this world who would be so selfishly inconsiderate... and the best tears because there are others... ones who care... and most of all, Betsy, because there are parents like you who will not allow their children to be denied. hugs and prayers ~ tanna

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    1. aw, thanks tanna. There ARE others that care and I'm so grateful for that.

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  42. OF COURSE your boys should participate in their graduation ceremony - No question!

    Wow... I am crying as I write this comment... I was so sad and angry to read this, but ultimately glad that you have a community of people around you that cares.

    They have worked hard, and your boys definitely deserve to take part in their special day. You are an amazing woman and mom, and YOU and your entire family have every right to celebrate (and ENJOY!) this important milestone!

    Congratulations to you and your "men"! I will definitely be thinking of all of you (and keep you in my prayers)!

    xo
    Kristin



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    1. thanks so much, kristin. :) I can feel all of you in one big hug right now. It's awesome. :)

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  43. Hugs and Prayers to you and your family.
    Celebrating this milestone with you all!
    I love your blog and your positive attitude...even through all of this.
    Some people will never change...they only think of themselves...like this lady did. It is good you "stood up" to her, sad you had to go through this.Hopefully no one else will have to deal with her.
    Love you,
    Nancy


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    1. thanks, nancy...I really appreciate that. :)

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  44. Hi Betsy,

    Ditto to what everyone else has written and the lady does suck. I had chills while reading this and had to step away for a while before I could come back and not rant and rave, which by the way you do it so well and should maybe do it a little more often.

    I decided to concentrate on the boys. They are beautiful, quirky, entertaining, and probably smarter than many of us will ever be in ways that we will never even understand. They have been such a source of joy for most of us and I think we all love to read about their many antics. We are also so proud of them when they accomplish something new. I think they have given us a new outlook on trains, sneakers, and socks. I think my favorite post is the one where they are all sleeping together and how they react to each other. Moments like those are priceless. We also love how Taylor is protective and caring with them and somehow he seems to have never shown any shame or embarrassment, and seems to have picked a beautiful young lady who seems to feel the same way. How could you not love her, I think we all love her too and wish that we had such understanding in-laws. I think they know that someday they may have the responsibility for the triplets and I think you have no need to ever worry because they will be as well taken care of as they are now. Although I think so many of us hope that someday they will come up with a cure to unlock that part of their brain that is holding them back. What a joyful time that will be for all the children suffering with this.

    My brother-in-law has an uncle who got an illness when he was 3 years old that made him mentally handicapped and he almost died. This was in the 1940's. I think he has the been diagnosed with a brain capacity of about a 6 or 7 year old if even that. Anyway his family has always brought him to family functions, ours and theirs. He is usually the life of the party because he is so happy to see everyone and he does remember everyone's names, even new people he meets. It is like having a happy child in an adult body going around and visiting everyone. And we all always take our time to give him the attention he needs at that moment. Our only concern is when he plays with the kids who are smaller, we have to watch them because of his physical strength of which he does not understand the difference. But he tries to never hurt them because he gets so upset if he does. When his much loved parents passed on his sisters took him in. Then one sister passed on and so my brother-in-laws Mom watches him. My brother-in-law and his sisters knows they will be taking care of him when their mom dies. They would have it no other way. We bless them for all they do. Family takes care of family and it is how it should be.

    That lady may think there are some people who might not want the boys to be there but I can guarantee you that there are many, many, more who will be so happy to see the boys there, and I am sure they will get a standing ovation and cheers from everyone. There is a place for everyone in this world and Saturday night that will be their place. We will all be with you, not physically, but mentally and with our hearts. The boys mean a lot to us too.

    One other thing, a person can be highly intelligent or gorgeous looking, but all of that can be taken away within a few seconds with any kind of accident, of which I will not list. I think that if something happened to one of her children or grandchildren (if she has any) then she would be very lucky if she met someone like you who could help her get through things she would need. She would then find out how amazing your are.

    Anyway have lots of fun on Saturday, enjoy all the love given to you, the Mister, the boys, Taylor and Lauren. You have all worked so hard to get to this place and we are so proud of you. Our hearts are beaming. Happy Graduation Day to Harry, Spencer, and Alex! You boys are awesome!!!!!!

    God bless.

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    1. ah...Sherry, you always know just what to say. You truly have a gift, you know? Thank you so much for your insight into my boys. I think you know them well. :) My heart is warmed by the story of the uncle in your brother-in-laws family. Love that.

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  45. Glad your stress was somewhat balanced by the support from so many (including fellow bloggers here and now). Looking forward to pictures from Saturday!

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    1. I'm surrounded by caring bloggers, aren't I? Love that. :)

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  46. BEAUTIFULLY put dear Betsy!!!! YOU KNOW where I STAND on this issue and there is NO EXCLUSION! NONE! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! And it was sad to hear it come from people who should be "the guys" BIGGEST advocates. They will be WONDERFUL tomorrow! WONDERFUL!

    Would it be okay if during graduation I ran across the stage in a RED TUTU and screamed a little? It would be FUN! AND...just a TINY bit distracting to all...

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    1. LOL!! I'm saying YES because I want to see you in that tutu!!! Please do! Your kids and Bob would die, though! hahahaha. Thanks, too, for giving a listening ear the other day. :)

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  47. I'm so glad you shared this, Betsy. And I will be praying for a wonderful graduation day for your entire family. I'm sending a virtual hug to you too...a mom who gave her kids every advantage possible. Congratulations to you too, on your boy's and your accomplishments.

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    1. thanks so much, anita! We're so proud of them. I won't forget my camera, either! ha.

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  48. I think the truly disabled one here is the woman who sought to ostracise your three men. And to think she works in education is very sad indeed – the very field that should be supportive and understanding. Although, as we all know, ignorance exists in all areas of society.

    One of the most important things that you have achieved, Betsy, is to educate us through your boys. Not through their disabilities, but their abilities. Not through their limits, but their advances. Not through their failures, but their successes. And you do it with humour and grace and wisdom and love.

    I am heartened that the school must be doing something right if the students were willing to rally to have them included in the ceremony. What a beautiful demonstration of care and support in honouring their fellow schoolmates. Harry, Spencer and Alex will do you proud, I am certain. I wish you all the best on Saturday and I hope you, the Mister, Taylor and Lauren will enjoy the day’s celebration. I am sending a huge cheer from Canada!

    With love,
    Suzanne xox

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    1. So eloquently put, Suzanne. Thanks, dear. :) xo

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  49. I've followed your blog for quite awhile, but have never commented. I have a 3 yr old non verbal autistic grandson. He is the light of our lives. I cannot imagine the hurt and rage I would have felt if someone had something like that about him. I am sure we will run into some like minded people along the way, but hopefully not in the educational system. Is our Bug perfect in everyone situation? No, but he is quieter than our two yr old "typical" grandchild when we go places! lol My sons graduation several years ago was disrupted by a "normal" graduate who wanted to make sure the ceremony was all about him. Bottom line is we cannot control every situation and shouldn't try to.
    I am praying things go well with you all today! I know you are one proud mama as you should be!!

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    1. Well, AM, it's great to see you here. Thanks so much for commenting! I always enjoy knowing who reads...blogs are just great, aren't they? I love that you call your grandson Bug. We called our oldest Bug or Taylorbug on the day he was born and I still call him that. ha. :) Sounds like your little guy is surrounded by love and care and I hope your whole family is spared this kind of thing. Thanks for your kind words and prayers!

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  50. Oh Betsy...I am appalled...along with the rest. Ij ust know you handled this just like you should have....and am very thankful the boys will get the honors they deserve. Kudos to you! I know we will all be anxious to see what kind of disciplinary action will be taken!!! Prayers for all of you. XO

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    1. Thanks Marsha! We just got home from graduation practice and they did fine. :) We'd appreciate your prayers for tonight, too. We just want to be able to enjoy it!

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  51. Wow. I'm wondering how long this person has cared for your children and why you haven't said something until now. It has been my experience with caring for children with special needs that often the person caring for them is their biggest advocate. It is also my experience that the parents of special needs children will do anything to get something to hang on the wall for their children's accomplishments. I by no means believe that anyone with special needs should be ostracized, but maybe it was in the best interest of the children that person was looking out for, and you as a parent misunderstood what the situation really may have been. Either way I believe this is not something that should be discussed on a blog. I can't believe someone teaching in that little village you live in could be so cruel as you claim this teacher is. You say word travels fast, my guess is that that teacher reads this blog. Well thanks to you word has traveled faster now. Perhaps you should have sat down with this person and the principal and discussed what happened instead of smearing this person online. So shame on you! Shame on you for "blogging" about this and not keeping it confidential. Sure doesn't seem like the Christian thing to do. All I can say is I'm glad I'm not part of your "Christian Circle".

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    1. Well, in all fairness, I never said that this person was their teacher. You just did that, so I guess you have let the cat out of the bag while I was protecting her identity. I didn't say her name or her position, if any, at the school.

      Also, news traveled fast on May 9th when this happened, but not by me. I talked to one person on the school board. I didn't publicize it or have anything to do with it spreading. I didn't say anything for 15 days, giving her opportunity to talk with me, which she never has. The news that traveled was that the principal was in agreement with her...which was not true. And I think it was important that this information be corrected.

      The purpose of this post was not to smear anyone at all. No identities or positions were given, as I said. But I connect with people all over the world here...some just friends, some fellow parents of special needs kids, and others who find me on google. The word needs to spread on how to better treat disabled students. Their graduations are just as important and they shouldn't be pushed to the side so they don't inconvenience or make others feel uncomfortable. And my boys did great during graduation tonight, by the way.

      I feel no pity for their teacher. She lied. She misrepresented the administration to me. She has not apologized. And it wasn't to look out for my kids' interest, as you say. She told me several times that it was so that the audience wouldn't be distracted by them, and that is putting strangers over her students...not being their biggest advocate.

      I'm sorry you felt so cowardly as to go anonymous here. But I'm pretty sure I know who you are. And it's only natural that you want to stick up for her. But she did bring this on herself, and it was public long before I wrote this post.

      Until disabled people are accepted in every way, we as a community still have educating to do. I'm not sure what christian circle you are referring to...you have it in quotes, but I didn't use that term. I'm not referring to any faith here...just noting the desire of every disabled person to be treated like anyone else. I'm sorry you missed the main point of my post, which was that the special needs child's graduation may be even more of a celebration for the hurdles they have to overcome during their years at school. And to say we need to celebrate their graduation in a lesser way so the 'normal' people aren't distracted is just wrong. And it's even worse to say the school administration agrees with you.

      If you want to take a Christian slant on this, I think Matthew 25:40 is a great verse in thinking of the disabled.. "And he said, truly, I tell you that whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." We are to treat the very least as if our actions were toward God himself.

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    2. Betsy--congrats on your guys graduating---I know it took a lot of diligent work on yours and Jeff's part too. I am saddened that it ever came up that they should not be a complete part of their ceremony. Hopefully lessons were learned by the school employees and it won't happen again. But ,sadly there are those,like Anonymous,that will NEVER understand because they live in a bubble of "normal". Your answer to her was so gracious---I would expect nothing less from you. I wish your guys a wonderful summer,may they be surrounded by people that love and respect them and see what a treasure they are.

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    3. thank you so much Carrie. hugs...

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  52. Kudos to you, Betsy - a great response to a pathetic coward. A quote I think might be apt:
    “If you have to judge people, judge them based on what they can do, not on what they cannot. Judge them based on who they are, not who they aren’t. Otherwise, you’re judging based on your own shortcomings.”
    ~ Anonymous

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  53. Why should you, Betsy, keep the matter "confidential"?! You surely protected name and position of the person involved. Of course it is clear, that in a small village word travels fast and soon everybody will know. But by the way, all the classmates of your boys knew first hand! They even planned a petition. So this affair had already gone far from being one to be kept "confidential"!

    But why should this be wrong at all? I think, this would have been a question of common interest in every school in the world and so , Mr.or Mrs. Anonymous, if it was your or your teacher friend´s true conviction, that certain pupils/people should better be kept away from such an official ceremony for whatever reasons, than you should stand up for your opinion with your name, position and arguments and face the public discussion!

    But if in the contrary you express the feeling, that a person was "smeared" by just telling the bare facts about her actions, then I should concluse, that this might prove, that indeed you rather have a feeling, that this person´s arguments and behaviour are not so convincing and popular at all, if not wrong altogether!

    Lies and deception were obviously chosen to achieve a position! This cannot be understood nor apologized at all. And why this proceeding? Be honest with yourself, "Anonymous"! Might it be, that it was perfectly clear enough in the beginning, that the wish to seclude the three boys for whatever reasons, does NOT represent the point of view of the community? And why, in this case, could one think, that ones personal preference should be executed?

    And now, Betsy, 'conspiracy' in handling the affair is also demanded of you? How very odd! First it is your right as a mother to defend the interest of your boys and second the matter itself, the opinions and beliefs towards disabled persons in a society are important enough as to have to be discussed in public.

    I am very glad to have read, that all went well and your family had a great day!
    Christel


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  54. No I'm pretty sure you don't know who I am. And I've chosen to remain anonymous after reading some of the other comments about this person. How their tires should be slashed. In what world is that ever right? Yet I'm the one sending hate mail? And since others have mentioned this being a teacher and in your response to them you never bothered to correct them, this has to be someone close to the boys. You have their number to text them. I believe this is someone who works closely with them. Put two and two together. By the way, congratulations to your children. It is a milestone worth celebrating. I by no means felt that they should be ostracized. And again I am familiar with your community and your local school district and as I said I find it very hard to believe that someone teaching in that building would try to do what you claim they have done. I've said my peace. You and your friends rubbed me the wrong way with your comments. If they have a right to say the nasty things they've said then I have every right to say what I've said. I have followed your blog for a while now because i was interested in your story and your boys. I've rarely ever seen you say anything even slightly negative about the people at the boys' school so this is very hard to believe. I'm not going to win this argument because this is your blog and you get a special pass that no matter what you can't be wrong and anyone disagreeing with you is obviously a terrible person. I felt a need to question your story when it seems so out of character compared to what you've shared previously. That is all. I don't think I care to read anymore of you or your friends comments.

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    1. I know you're familiar with our community..in fact, according to my sitemeter, you are local...and this was you 79th visit to my blog. and yes, you have every right to say what you want here...that is why I didn't delete your comment and replied! Everyone is welcome to say what they want. I don't condone the tire slashing. I'm glad you were surprised by this situation. Of course I don't say negative things about people...and this really wasn't about the teacher, but the situation and how society needs to improve if this is still the mindset. Why question my story? Why would I make up such a hurtful scenario? What purpose could I possibly have and how would I ever think I could get away with making something up so terrible about our school?

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  55. I'm so glad the boys had a great graduation! They made memories for a lifetime : ) I'm so happy you stayed positive through all this and know that your boys are your only concern You're a strong person and never let the negative drag you down. Love really does conquer all. Hugs, Cat

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    1. thanks, cat...it was so fun seeing the boys connect with the other student in their caps and gowns. I think we did the right thing for them. It's sad to have people question our motives, but we know ourselves and our boys more than any anonymous person ever could!

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  56. I DIDN'T KNOW CHRISTIAN'S HAD CLIQUES. This Anonymous person isn't the kind of Christian person I want to be represented by and by shaming~in my book Christians have no right to do that if they are truly Christian.

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  57. No one ever said that the person who disagrees with what happened is a TERRIBLE person. That is just insecure, mild paranoia. And,of course I was kidding about the tire slashing...for heaven's sake... And I never thought about this person being the boys' teacher. That was never intimated. I did perhaps think it was someone in the hierarchy of the school. The person that is making a bigger issue of this ignorance is Anonymous who feels she/he knows the real meaning behind the suggestion. You certainly did not point fingers and your loyal readers have taken this post for what it is...a statement of negligent, unintelligent ignorance. But now it has become a major blog fodder and I for one can't stop thinking about it. Besides condoning why the person (with in the school or graduation ceremony) said what she did, which is unfounded because no one knows exactly why anyone does what they do, he/she called you a liar and that is another question.
    The boys looked handsome and what a wonderful thing it was!

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    1. I knew you were kidding about the tires. ha. I told The Mister that I have a world-wide loving and supportive group of bloggers. They love my boys! And they are viciously protective of them! And that is very touching!

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  58. Anonymous, I'm curious, do you think Betsy made this story up? You think she lied about it? What would be her motivation for that? I don't know Betsy personally, I just know her from her writings here. Even still I cannot imagine she would lie about something like this.
    We all make mistakes and this person obviously made one, does that make them a bad person? Absolutely not, maybe they had a lapse in judgement that day. But this is Betsy's blog and her story, so she has the right to share with us whatever she feels. She didn't "out" anyone. I didn't know if was their teacher, an aide or a volunteer? And it doesn't really matter to me.
    I have a 3 yr old non verbal autistic grandson, I read this blog and see someone who's been where I'm going. I'm sure a long the way I'll have to stand and fight for him and I'll remember Betsy , TheMister, Taylor and Lauren. I'll remember their courage in standing up for their boys. This world can be cruel for "normal" people, and so much more those society sometimes sees as unfit or different.
    I'm sorry to be so long winded on your blog Betsy. Just want to say thank you for being open and honest about your journey!
    Annette

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  59. It must be the Scot Irish in me as I am at the ready to defend what is right and slam what is wrong! :)

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    1. and I'm really, really glad you're on my side, my dear. :)

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  60. Just catching up and wanted to say that I am glad you got this worked out and that the boys were with everyone else. And I love this photo and the one with them all dressed at graduation.

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    1. thanks, whisk...I really appreciate that. :)

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  61. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 I have to agree with anonymous this was not the place to post all of this. The school resolved the issue and that should be the end of it. I have worked with this teacher and have watched her on several occasions ADVOCATING for every student in her class. She has always went through the proper channels when it is needed so I just feel that something isn't quite right with this whole story. I am not blaming either of the parties I think there might be more involved who have not confessed to the whole truth. Having said that... I know whatever was said, this person who is being torn apart here would NEVER do anything to the detriment of any of her students. I just want everyone to realize there is another person here, who has feelings. I worked with her daily with her students and know she would never suggest anything, maliciously. I am a mom of a special needs child, too. I know sometimes I take things differently than is meant because I can be oversensitive to the hurt that happens, almost daily to him. I hope I have come across not as putting either party down but to bring light to some of what is being posted here is not with keeping to the scripture... If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 I hope hurt feelings can be resolved with both parties. It saddens me to see all the negativity. Congratulations....Alex....Harry...and Spencer!!

    Cindy M.














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    1. Cindy...thanks for commenting. And before I forget..it was great to see you last night and congrats again on your new job. :)

      As far as this not being the proper place, my personal blog about my experiences seems like the proper place to me. I didn't go to the local news or just gossip about it. I went to someone on the school board and talked to the administration. And when I posted on my blog about it, I didn't tell names or positions. I think we as special needs parents need to tell our stories for the benefit of all.

      As far as being overly sensitive and maybe taking things the wrong way, I took notes during that phone call and asked her to repeat and clarify. Her only reason was, and this is a quote, "so that the boys would not be too much of a distraction....to the audience". She wanted them on the floor where nobody could see them. There is no way to misunderstand that. When she was confronted by the member of the school board that I spoke to, she said it was all her fault...not that I had misunderstood.

      Yes, the problem was resolved for graduation night, but not the bigger problem of that kind of thinking...keeping special needs kids in the shadows so they don't bother anyone. It doesn't mean she doesn't love them or teach them well. And this was the second issue of this kind I had this year where the 'normal' kids were considered over mine, as if they would ruin something for the senior class.

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    2. You seem to misunderstand, Cindy. There is no negativity on the part of the author and readers of this blog. I only see enlightenment, pride and tears of joy. I can't really believe there would ever have been an issue with the boys graduating up with the other students. They are students too who have accomplished the same goal...there should be no distinction. It just seems so strange and foreign to me with the forward thinking that our society is expressing in this day and age. Perhaps, sadly there is an undercurrent of hypocrisy and that negativity saddens me greatly. Every man is created equal and no one is normal.
      This is not about or directly toward you, though you chose to defend the inconsiderate actions of a particular person and in that way you are getting the brunt. It is a nice gesture that you have chosen to defend the disrupting comments of this particular teacher but when you do, you bring disgruntled comments on yourself.

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  62. Your boys were so precious Saturday night! They did awesome! I got a little teary watching them proudly receive their diplomas. The final triplet to receive his diploma did what EVERY kid up there wanted to do.....open that folder up to see their name and make sure all is official!!!! Ha Ha!!!! I never did spot where you were in the audience, but I was imagining how proud your face looked during the ceremony! Congratulations to all of you!!!!!!! Jackie

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    1. Thanks so much, Jackie! I know your mom was praying for my boys! :) That was Spencer peeking in his diploma. lol....I thought that was cute and got quite a chuckle from the audience. Sometimes their lack of social skills is refreshing. I thought they did great, too...I couldn't have asked for anything better! We were way over on the left side...had a great view, too. :)

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  63. I've gotten so far behind on blog reading! Just catching up now. So, so sad that people with that mindset still exist out there & that you ran in to it in a painful way, but so, SO glad that the support blew her ignorance out of the water!! So happy to see & hear that the day was great! Hope it was an amazing, forever memory!

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    1. Oh the drama! haha...it is SO horrible, hurtful and sad. I'm ready to put it behind us, but am concentrating now on doing what I can to make sure this doesn't ever happen to any other family.
      Then maybe some good can come from it! Yeah, the support has been amazing, really. :)

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  64. Wow, just getting caught up. On all the comments that is. Yes this town is little and I heard about the unfortunate and inconsiderate graduation situation from everyone other than my friend Betsy. I was horrified. I do not have a child with special needs, but I do LOVE my Brock boys!!!Betsy I am so sorry you had to go through this. It should have been a happy, special milestone NOT a drama filled lie fest!!! I am very disappointed in the person responsible. You would think the knowledge and empathy would come with the degree, guess not. How sad and scary for you. How can you trust a person to have the best interest of your boys when they have already proven that is not the case. I know I do not have to tell you, my friend, to keep your head up because you always do! :) And keep posting your wonderful thoughts on YOUR BLOG! I guess if people don't want to hear what you have to say on YOUR BLOG then they don't have to read it.....do they?
    Love,
    Julie

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    1. I know! I KNOW!!! ha. thanks, julie. xo

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