Autistic Boy's Parents Need to Accept He Won't Graduate From High School

graduationIt's every parent's dream to have their child grow up and graduate from high school. But when do you give up on that dream? When do you say, "OK, that's what some kids do. Some kids, but maybe not my kid?" Sinclaire Coffer's parents aren't there yet. 

Their 17-year-old son has taken a math test -- required by the State of Georgia for a high school senior to graduate -- five times. And every single time, Coffer has failed. But because their son has autism, Coffer's parents think their son should get to graduate anyway.


I feel for the Coffers. I really, honestly, 100 percent do. Parenting a kid on the spectrum has its own special challenges to begin with. And they've gotten their kid this far.

They say they've hired a private tutor. They've encouraged their son to take extra courses. They've done everything that a parent SHOULD do and more. They even supported his venture to the point of petitioning the state's board of education for a waiver on the math test -- based on his autism diagnosis -- so that Sinclaire could say he too was a high school graduate.

But now that the state board of education has said no, sorry, but rules are rules, I feel for them even more. Because now they may have to face one of the hardest thing for parents: that point at which we realize there are some things our kids just can't do. We spend their early childhood talking about "no limits," but at some point, that's exactly what they are. Limits on who this person will be and what they can do.

It's not a part of parenting that comes with pithy quotes about hopes and dreams. It's not a part of parenting they talk about much in the books. It's a part that downright sucks.

But it's reality. Some kids are made to kick butt on the basketball court. Some kids are made to multiply huge sums in their head. Some kids are made to graduate.

And some kids aren't. I know I will never be an artist (and have the dismal scores from high school art class on my transcript to prove it). I will never be a nuclear engineer.

This kid gave it the old college try. He took a test FIVE times, and he failed it every single time. The state has said he can't graduate unless he passes it, so what are the Coffers going to do? Are they going to make him take it again and again and again? Or will they accept that this is one dream that is not to be and move on, find something their child can do and do well? I can't make that decision for them, but I hope they make the right one.

What would you do if you found out your child could not graduate from high school?


Image via LearningLark/Flickr

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