Sunday, April 29, 2012

And the Honor Goes To....

Sometimes having a child with Autism isn't all bad.  Sometimes it can make you burst with pride, and want to shout from the mountain tops.  Katie brought home a letter from her middle school, announcing that she has been accepted into the National Junior Honor Society.  About a month ago, she had received a letter explaining that her gradepoint made her eligible for consideration.  But the Honor Society is about more than just grades, so she had to fill out an application form and write 2 different essays.  They also look at activities that you belong to in school and in the community, and also service projects that you have been a part of.  Katie was very dedicated to completing this form, and worked really hard on the essays as well.  After turning in her paperwork, the waiting game began.  Then, a few weeks later, it was official.  She will be inducted at the end of May in a ceremony at her school.

My oldest daughter is very intelligent.  She was also accepted into the Honor Society, and has been active in the organization ever since.  But, without taking anything away from her, or any other child in the Honor Society, it is a completely different feeling for me to see Katie be accepted by this group.  To sit back and remember that Katie didn't even talk until she was almost 5, to think that she used to have to ride a bus for almost an hour to go to a special school for autism, and now look at her.  Not only is she back in our home school district, but to excel in her studies on top of all that.  I understand that her work is modified for her.  I understand that she has some limitations in certain areas.  But she is applying herself to the tasks given to her, and working hard to do her very best.  She has her challenges that she struggles with, but she also has areas where she can really shine. 

I have always found with Katie that any milestone she reaches is always a rollercoaster ride for me.  I am naturally a sentimental person, I cry at preschool graduations and dances, first days of school and 5th grade camp.  Milestones are bittersweet.  They not only signify a big step in a lifetime, but they also show how far a child has come.  For Katie somehow they also magnify how different she is than other children her age.  I don't let her know how I am feeling inside, but sometimes I really struggle with important events.  Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking "how would life be different" if Katie didn't have Autism.  But, like I have said before (and blogged before), if Katie wasn't Autistic, she wouldn't be Katie, and I wouldn't be me.

This milestone of Katie being in the Honor Society is different than other steps she has taken.  This, for me, is all happy.  It is all good.  It is all proud.  There is nothing about this event that makes me sad, or makes me gloomy or causes me to ponder life.  I think it is because I honestly never even thought about her being in the Honor Society.  I don't mean I didn't think she would make it if she applied, it just never even crossed my mind.  I wasn't anxiously awaiting the letter in the mail, or sweating it out to see if she was eligible.  In this case, I guess ignorance was bliss. 

If you take a good look at the application, Katie is perfect for the Honor Society.  Aside from her honor role grades, she is very active in her community.  We actually ran out of room on the application when we were listing her service project activities.  My parents are extremely involved with their Kiwanis club, and always take my kids on their projects.  This means Katie and her sisters spend alot of time helping others.  They ring the Salvation Army bell at Christmas, deliver food and clothes to the local shelters, pack up meals for Kids Against Hunger, and help with the Easter Egg hunt.  My parents have instilled in my children the love of helping others and serving them.  Another requirement Katie had to fullfill was activities.  She has always been involved with the local Autism group, doing bowling and soccer.  She also was a cheerleader for our church, helped out at Bible school, and was a school safety.

When we completed Katie's application, it really made me pause.  Here is this child, burdened with a lifelong disablity, but not letting it hold her back for one minute.  She is not sitting at home, lost in her own world.  She is out there, living life, making friends, helping others and blowing everyone away by her charm and her smile.  Living life does not come easily to her.  School and rules and socialization and fun and common sense are not automatic for her.  Sometimes I wonder if the sky is the limit for her.  Not only because she wants to live her life to the fullest, but also because she doesn't think of herself as having limitations.  So why should I?  Why should I think she has limitations and difficulties and trials and tribulations if she doesn't see that in herself? 

I honestly hope that Katie being inductied into the Honor Society does not make some parents mad.  I hope that they don't think, "My kid is smarter than her", or "Her work is modified" or "They just let her in to be nice and she doesn't deserve it".  The Honor Society is about more than good grades, which by the way, she does get.  It is about integrity and character and service and involvement, all qualities that Katie has.  I hope they also realize that it is not a competition.  Just because Katie got in, does not mean that she took a different child's spot.   I know I don't have to justify this to anyone, but I felt that it needed to be said.  Because sometimes, in our Adventures in Autism, some people don't understand just how far that Katie has traveled.  How hard that she has worked.  How much she has struggled.  I am so proud of her!


  1. I once heard a story about a woman saying, "My daughter won the Susan G. Komen 60 mile Race." It's NOT a race !!

    Keep on keeping on and many CONGRATS to Katie !!

    Awesome read, thanks Mary

  2. Hi Mary,

    It's Rene Cizio here at The News-Herald. Can you send me your contact info. at, please?
    Thank you,