This is Kathy Bromley's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?

20111105-105205As Shannon approaches her final semester of high school I find myself reflecting on how things have changed since Rob and I first introduced her to the teachers at our local elementary school. We wanted to make sure they realized that what Shannon did at school mattered to us and that this was a team effort.  We would never expect them to work on activities with Shannon that we weren't willing to work on at home. Although Shannon seemed quiet we expected her day to be filled with learning and socialization. We walked into the staff meeting ready to start educating.

Throughout middle school and then high school I have continued to go into the school, any classroom that had a connection with Shannon, and show both the students and the teachers how amazing Shannon's life really is and that they could play a role in making sure that Shannon's life at school continued to be a highlight of her day.

We're now at the countdown, school as Shannon has come to know it ends with Graduation in June 2012, a time of great joy but also of fear. We are now skating toward the big, black unknown. Where do we all go from here?

The familiarity of friends and routine will be disrupted, for Shannon as well as for us. We've all become very comfortable with how the week plays out. Shannon wakes up early and is off to school to be challenged, to visit with friends, to dance and to feel safe. As her parents we are comfortable knowing that Shannon's days are productive.

With no school, what's next? There have been meetings with intake workers to determine the level of funding and the types of programs Shannon qualifies for. With such high needs we have had to work with two groups, CLBC and Health, both working hard with us to come up with a plan where Shannon will be challenged and engaged. Gone is the natural group of students to introduce Shannon to, classes to enjoy and a social life she has come to love, or is it?

I've heard other families say that life for their adult children improved after high school but it's difficult to see that Shannon's life could get better than this.

It seems the first options offered are Workshops and Programs for adults with disabilities. We love the life she has now with the mix of opportunities and people to meet and learn from. Rob and I would like more for our daughter and won't stop with the obvious choices, we haven't before, so why start now?

We think back to all the incredible adventures we've experienced because of the big, black unknown, of how difficult moving forward seemed in the past and of how hard both Rob and I have worked to overcome it. The big, black Unknown in front of us seems a little bigger and a little darker than in the past. There is no obvious path around the unknown and we will continue to search, to learn from ourselves as well as others, to create the new trails we just can't see right now. And so it begins, our search for another amazing new path in Shannon's life, around, over, or perhaps right through the centre of the big, black unknown.

We can't wait to get started!

Kathy Bromley is a teacher, advocate, blogger thought leader and Mom.  Her blog posts under Time As We Know It are irreverent and poignant. Kathy's spirit of abundance is revealed in this introduction to her website:  "Time is such an important factor in our life, we are not a typical family and yet we are forced to live within the same 24 hour clock as everyone else. We don’t always arrive on time but we try our best."

Note: I am releasing individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012?  on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Adam Kahane, Jacques Dufresne, John Stapleton, Cheryl Rose and Peter Deitz . You can access the accumulated essays here.

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