My son finished college today, and hopefully will be off to University in September.

Education hasn’t been easy for him. When he was 7 he was diagnosed with a lazy eye. It wasn’t found early enough (the only day he had off school sick when he was 5 was the day they did the eye tests). It was thought that this was what was holding his reading back.

Then we found he had dyslexia – quite severe as far as I can tell. We fought the council for funding for help for him at school. We also paid for a lesson with a specialist teacher once a week. After a while she suggested we get him tested for Aspergers. That was another fight to get the education department to recognise the diagnosis (because the support costs money). This is a proper diagnosis, done by professionals, not ‘I’ve done a checklist from the internet’.

He isn’t good at making friends, but has managed to find a group of strong supportive friends (they basically approached him first). There are times I’ve had to kick him through the door to force him to socialise with them.

With the educational support he managed to get good GCSE’s, and get onto a 3d CGI animation course for BTEC, though he needed to resit his English. He found his niche, and he found how to learn, how to plan his projects.

We started doing the Uni thing – he was trying for Computer Game Art type stuff. The problem is they all wanted ‘Fine Art skills’, and he isn’t a great Life artist. He likes the modelling, rigging and coding (he was surprised by the coding – he thought he would hate it). I watched him come out of each interview crushed- they were impressed by his skills, would bring a lot to the course but his art wasn’t good enough.

Then University of South Glamorgan at Cardiff.

He went off. I sat in the lobby waiting for the inevitable. He came out an hour later. I’d moved from where he had left me- I could see a look of worry creep into the Aspie blankness – the world was different to how it should be. I waved from the coffee shop…

… and he broke into a huge smile. I sagged in relief. Apparently the tutor had been very interested in all he was doing, impressed with what he had done on the course, but, yes, no fine art.

“However, I think you should talk to my colleague.” From Game Design course: On last year’s course they spent the first 2 weeks playing board games – Catan, Carcassonne… the sort of games I play with him. This is to spark debate on what makes a good game.

That tutor was very impressed, and after another interview, this time concentrating on his design skills, said ‘I look forward to seeing you in September.’ We put in his change of course application to UCAS, hoping this was it. A week later my wife phoned them- the suspense was killing him, but he was too Aspie to phone. He got an offer! (and apparently the staff were really helpful when my wife phoned.)

Last week he handed in his assessment piece. Today was the end of term BBQ- he doesn’t go back after today. He has a geeky knowledge- not the Star Wars/Big Bang Theory quoting of 2 years ago (he still has that – he walks into the room, watches 5 seconds and goes “Season 3, episode 4”), but industry stuff that is the foundation of something useful in the gaming industry. (It may not be a biggie- apparently its relatively easy file swap- but he is currently working on getting the Bards in Skyrim to sing the Skyrim Rap

In 9 days he is 18 – I can still remember being handled this pink bundle in the delivery room and tears forming as I said ‘My little man’. He will be 18 – he’s completed education with a good grade prediction, he doesn’t do drugs (apart from the occasional sanctioned beer at home), he’s intelligent, witty, not in a gang, never been in trouble with the police. His teachers have always had the highest praise for him. Despite his difficulties, I’ve watched him push back against them (sometimes with us pushing him!)

I’m scoring this as a Parenting Win.

Like I said today was the last day at college. He may never see most of these friends again. He posted this on Facebook. (this is all his – no one proof read it for dyslexia. I paste ‘as is’)

finished college today just wanted to say thanks to everyone the tutors and friends for making it the best two years I have experience so far.I will be sad to see it go and whilst I’m looking forward to university in Cardiff.looking back at the 2 years of college i feel drawn to the last words of the 10th doctor “i don’t want to go”.

His mother cried. What could I do but to quote other Doctors’ ‘last words’ at him.

I just wanna tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!

 

“We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people, all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. Do not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. Always remember when Jack was you.”

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