In Their Own Words – A Graduation Surprise
This “In Their Own Words” essay is written by Tonya L. Jones of Detroit, Mich. She is the proud mother of Joshua Jones, who has autism.
My son, Joshua, is six years old and has just really begun to communicate verbally within the last year or so. We went through such a long period of his repeating everything that I when he began to ask questions and tell me what he wanted for breakfast, I was astounded. Although Joshua was diagnosed only 3 1/2 years ago, this journey with autism already seems like an eternity. But, praise God, he is progressing extremely well and seems to surprise us almost daily with new accomplishments.
Joshua has been in an ASD preschool classroom for three years and during this last year, he began to spend more and more time in a regular ed kindergarten class at his school. He has the most amazing teachers and assistants who are more than patient with him, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the time and effort they have invested in my son. As the school year came to a close, I was told that Joshua would be graduating with the kindergarten class and that there would be a ceremony and everything! I was just beside myself! My son would march in and graduate with his peers – WOW! I know it was kindergarten, but it was still an amazing accomplishment and his dad and I could not have been more proud.
On graduation day, my husband and I were sitting in the audience waiting for the ceremony to begin. I looked at the program and to my complete shock, there was my son’s name – Joshua was scheduled to lead the audience in “The Pledge of Allegiance!” I could not believe my eyes. I later found out that his teacher did not tell us because she wanted it to be a surprise. Well surprise was an understatement. I was completely stunned!
As the ceremony began, Joshua marched in with his classmates and when it was time for the pledge, he stood up in front of everyone, held the microphone and recited the pledge as we all repeated after him. Oh, what a miraculous moment! Just one short year ago, he could not speak a complete sentence and now he was leading dozens of people in reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance.” There are no words to describe the joy that still fills my heart every time I think about it.
I’m sure there will be many more proud moments we share with Joshua. I thank God continually for blessing us with such an amazing child. He is kind, loving and giving, and literally makes me smile every day.
I videotaped that portion of the ceremony and Joshua never gets tired to watching himself. That’s okay, though. I never get tired of watching him, either.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.