Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – A Graduation Surprise

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 editors@autismspeaks.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.


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  1. August 8, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Wow! What an amazing story!

  2. alexandra
    August 8, 2010 at 11:44 am

    wo this story brings me to tears , and is so familiar god bless Joshua and your family

  3. Tarika
    August 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I know exactly how you feel my son was also diagnosed at 3 years old and he didn’t start talking until he started head start his teachers were great. The only thing is that my son started out in general education because I felt it would help him better but he also received services too. He was in a play for his Head Start graduation , I wasn’t able to attend but my mom said he was great he knew his part very well. It doesn’t seem like much to others but 4 us its an Amazing accomplishment . Hope he continues to do well..

  4. Lynise
    August 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Praise the Lord!!!!

  5. Melissa
    August 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Wow, this is an awesome story. My son Joshua is 3 1/2 and has autism also. He’s been mostly non-verbal also. He’s currently going to Relief Nursery and will start at a special school in the fall. I’ve noticed in the last few months he’s starting to say more words though he’s a long way from making sentences.

  6. Patrice
    August 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  7. Jessica Navarro
    August 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Your story is so touching. I have a little brother with autism and he is not speaking any word yet I am so proud of your child’s accomplishment and give all faith that soon my brother too will begin speaking.. I have been praying so that this miracle come true.

  8. August 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I love this story. I can feel the emotion as I am reading it. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Dani B
    August 8, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    that is amazing!! It truly brought tears to my eyes. Your family is an inspiration to me to continue to press even harder with my son. I pray one day he’ll follow in Joshua’s footsteps.

  10. Theresa
    August 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I cried when I read this. My son just finished his ASD preschool program. When he started 2 years ago, you could barely communicate with him. We went to see a new doctor last week and he asked me if I was sure he was on the spectrum because he is moving along so fast according to his medical reports.

    I have been doubting myself all weekend. Thank you!

  11. Erin Kuhlman
    August 9, 2010 at 11:17 am

    It’s hard to type because I am still crying. My three-year-old’s ability to communicate disappeared about age 1. I saw my sweet, smart infant retreat into a “parallel universe.” Her official diagnosis came only six months ago, but via intensive treatment, she is already making some progress–nothing compared to your son, however. Yet your story gives me hope that someday, she too will succeed! Thank you.

  12. Bobby
    August 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Wow! I’m so happy for you, my son also has shown some amazing abilities. It truly is wonderful when you see them see the light.

  13. Leslie A
    August 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    What an inspiration! I can barely type through the tears. I am dreaming of the day when my son Ben will talk to us. He is now 3 1/2 and after 18 months of intensive therapy has made little progress. we are not giving up– ever!

  1. August 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

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