Monday, June 6, 2011

...proud, grateful, full up

Autism:  "Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears 
during the first three years of life and is the result of 
neurological disorder that affects the normal functionings
of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction 
and communication skills.  
Both children and adults with autism show difficulties in 
verbal and non-verbal communication, 
social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

This is the definition given by the Autism Society of America.

I can relate to much of that definition...
however, I have been the witness to a child 
who has not let his diagnosis hold him back.  
And who has learned to rise above 
some of these "disabilities."
(and...I am FOREVER grateful to the teachers
and aides who have helped along the way)

On Friday, June 3, 2011 by sweet son Chandler 
graduated 8th grade in a class of well over 300 students. 
Watching him happily accept his diploma...
smiling, interacting with fellow classmates
 was beyond amazing for me.

The fact that he made honor roll...
was beyond amazing to me.

He was amongst many children who have gone to school
with him since he was 5 years old.  
This chapter closed for him that night as he 
will be going on to a high school where many of
these students won't be attending.  

He was able to express his sadness and gratitude...
which made my heart swell that he could
 so accurately depict these emotions he was experiencing.  
(THAT is a big deal for someone who is
diagnosed with autism)

I am not certain what part of that evening was
my favorite....
from putting his very first tie on him,
 to watching him receive his diploma, 
to seeing his great grandma
snuggle up on him full of love and pride.

I have never been one to like labels or putting
a box around things...

i think we all are simply who we are...

unique, beautiful,
wondrous souls...
each having our very own quirks,
our very own strengths, 
our very own weaknesses...

each of us defying odds, changing definitions...
setting examples.

my heart is full up with my beautiful boy's
accomplishments...i look forward to the next
chapter in his life...
the new challenges, the new victories...

the story continues.

thank you for listening.



  1. Gosh darn it..... Ya- I am crying sweet friebs. I am so proud of you and your boy.... I love you so much and saying that- just does not express enough of how much I admire you and Love to watch you "MOTHER"..... That has been such a lovely thing to behold. My prayer for you and your family is that you have a very special Summer celebrating many victories. AND a house full of laughter! ox

  2. yep! you have my tears a flowing too! So proud of Chandler, and of you momma, for always being there, having his back, and letting him know that there are no boundaries. At least not where love is concerned.

  3. Congratulations, Chandler! and to the whole family.

    Beautiful post, Totes. Just beautiful.

  4. wow, kol, what a great post. congrats to chandler, what an amazing son you have;-) big hugs to you, my sweet friend! xo

  5. Kolleen- Chandler is one of the most beautiful and amazing children I have ever had in my classroom. I am so proud of him. My heart is overflowing with joy for his accomplishment. I love him very much and can't wait to see what he can do.

  6. Kolleen, this post is so victorious and made more so by knowing the struggles you have dealt with behind the scenes. I'm sure they are not over.... but what an amazing milestone to celebrate - for all of you!!!

  7. I've cried more today reading so many happy mama moments! You are an amazing inspiration to so many, I'm sure your sweet Chandler is just as inspired by you as well!

  8. Congratulations Chandler! Kolleen, Such A Beautiful Post! Something Just Told Me To Pop Over Here And I'm So Happy I Did! Sweet Girl, Your Love And Joy-Overflowing For Your Son's Accomplishment Were Totally Heartfelt This Evening! Hugs,Terri

  9. Congrats Chandler!!!:O) What a beautiful post, Thank you for sharing:O)

  10. YOU are such a Wonder-full Heart... a light being... able to SEE, really SEE the beauty in people & life & every-little-precious-thing. I am so proud of Chandler!!! He is blessed by you, and you by him. My heart swells to near bursting. Tears, glorious tears. GO Chandler GO! Brave into the wild and wonderous journey of life. He is an inspiration. You are an inspiration!

    Love you so. Giant hugs.

    (Super ~V~)


  11. As a middle school teacher for the last decade, I've worked with many students on the autism spectrum, and it sounds as though your son's school and teachers have provided a learning environment in which he's been able to blossom academically and socially, and reach his full potential! This is outstanding, and I predict he will have the tools to achieve success as he moves ahead into high school!

  12. congratulations to chandler
    & graduating 8th grade
    & with honors!
    & i love how you
    honor him,
    & how he
    to his spirit
    & his soaring.

  13. When I saw your post in my feed, I just had to come look. I am glad I did...what a BEAUTIFUL uplifting post! I am so proud of your son and of YOU! I read it with tears in my eyes as I imagined this kind of accomplishment in the futures of the special needs preschooler that I work with. Many of them have varying degrees of autism and I rejoice in every milestone they make. (At the preschool level it is often something as small as using words to ask for his snack of choice or tossing a ball to a friend!)I wish I could see how they are when they are Chandler's age, I would be so proud! It makes me happy to see him enjoying his successes!

  14. Fabulous post. As an aide... I'm so honored to be a part of families lives. Often though, we are only hearing about the negatives, what needs work, etc. It is so lovely to read about your celebration. OH AND HIS GRIN!!!! He certainly looks proud.

  15. Your way with words gets me everytime Kolleen...I love that you are filled up with love for Chandler. You are a gift to him, just as he is to you. What a wonderful night it must have been, watching all of his expressions and knowing that he was so happy. I love your beautiful heart my friend. Give that boy a big hug from me too! xo

  16. I have tears for you...tears of joy and understanding shared by us Mother's who love and adore everything about our babies...EVERYTHING! And I truly believe that it is because of mother's such as yourself, that our babies become all that they can be regardless..

  17. chandler old boy....rock on!
    kolleen....from one mama to the next, you
    are an amazing mom. you shine.


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