Now Reading: Thinking About Career Day At My Son’s School

Thinking About Career Day At My Son’s School

Thinking About Career Day At My Son's School

-Ellie Whetzel is a Wife, Mom, and blogger who writes about the ups, the downs, and everything in between of life with her extraordinary son, Leo, who is on the Autism Spectrum.

My 7 year old son, Leo was diagnosed as being on the moderate to severe end of the Autism Spectrum when he was 3. His speech is currently limited to one or two word phrases used to request a variety of reinforcing items, and activities as well as scripting from his favorite Disney/Pixar films, and television program of choice, Sesame Street. As a parent, it can be difficult watching your child grow up among his typically developing peers and wonder (and worry) what the future will hold for him. At times it feels like I must choose between holding onto hope and facing reality.

Both, I’m learning are an important, albeit challenging part of this journey.

Career Day

There are moments we experience, which follow us, entering our thoughts when we least expect, and weaving together with other pieces of our journey to shape us, give us pause, make us think…evolve…and create purpose as we move forward.

When I was pregnant with Leo, I went for a 3D ultrasound session at 27 weeks, hoping to get a sneak peek of the sweet baby I would soon be holding in my arms.

Everything about that day remains vivid and clearly outlined in my memory-

Watching my boy on the screen, bouncing about incessantly in my belly…a foreshadowing of things to come.

The Thai restaurant my sister, her now husband, and I stopped at for dinner on the way home. The deliciousness of the Pad Thai I devoured- and the heartburn it gave me later on…

The traffic we ran into driving back- expressions of frustration lingering on driver’s faces as I watched each vehicle slowly pass by.

Every moment of that day, mundane as it may seem, firmly imprinted in my brain…

That evening, I gathered the pictures that had been printed from the ultrasound session earlier on that day, and stared in amazement and wonder at every detail. Leo’s little nose, his mouth…his fingers. I tried scrupulously to determine if he would share any of my features.

I imagined, with unparalleled, eager anticipation, how it would feel cradling him in my arms- showering him with all the love that was already pouring out from within with me, towards him.

My mind wandered further on-

Leo walking. Saying his first word. Birthdays, and holidays. Milestones met throughout the years- school and friends and where his interests and passions may lie.

And who, this beautiful soul would grow up to be, as a man…

When I opened Leo’s book bag the other day and read the enclosed note about Career Day, I felt my shoulders sink, and a deep, anxious sigh exhale from my lips.

A day for the students to dress up in outfits reflecting what they want to be when they grow up-

And what should be a fun, and creative form of expression, initially felt daunting, and depressing to me.

Leo will grow up to be…

I have no idea, I thought to myself.

And truth be told, while some of Leo’s classmates might have a firm grasp on what they see for their future careers, I would surmise, many of them don’t know, either. But, they at least may have some idea of what interests them, or, who they see in a role that inspires them to want to do the same thing; whether it be a parent, teacher, or someone they’ve seen on television. Their minds are open to all sorts of possibilities.

Having a child with Autism…at times, the only thing that feels certain about the future is that it is riddled with uncertainty…

So I’ve been thinking about Career Day. Probably overthinking it, as I’m supremely good at doing.

My mind, in turn, has been traveling back to that day, 7 plus years ago- the happiness and joy I felt, rubbing my belly and dreaming of all that this little human could become.

And it struck me-

Leo’s challenges…everything he faces with such immense fortitude, and resiliency each and every day…

His Autism-

It does not, and will not ever cause those dreams to disintegrate. They live among those challenges, forcing their way through, always emerging present and strong.

And the answer to what Leo will be when he grows up is not illusive.

He will be…Leo-

the wonderful, special, beautiful, funny, exceptional, person he has been since he was doing somersaults in my belly.

We will find something for him to wear on Career Day that fits the interests and passions he expresses in so many incredible ways, despite his challenges.

But I know that regardless of where this journey takes us, if Leo grows up happy, with the undoubted knowledge that he is loved beyond measure…

My dreams for him will have been fulfilled.

Written by

Ellie Whetzel Ellie Whetzel is a Wife, Mom, and blogger who writes about the ups, the downs, and everything in between of life with her extraordinary son, Leo, who is on the Autism Spectrum. Website: Facebook:

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