Our At-Home Award Ceremony (June 21, 2019)
This school year has been full of ups and downs for Jaiden, but he came out on top. I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished. I am proud of his drive, love of learning, and how hard he’s worked. I am also so grateful for his ability to tell me things that happen at school. Because of that, I was able to learn more about the bullying situation that he had to go through- things I would have never known if I left it solely up to his school to tell me. He even spoke up for a friend that was being bullied and that situation was taken care of only because Jaiden spoke up. So I decided I wanted to have an Award Ceremony for him at home. Not based on a voting system or his academic performance, but because of all his accomplishments, hard work, and progress.
Being an Autism Parent, I understand the significance of celebrating all things, big and small. I understand the significance of positive acknowledgment and speaking. I make it my mission to tell Jaiden how much I love him, how lucky I am to have him, and how amazing he is, every day. Even on the rough days. How our kids view and feel about themselves starts at home, but being at school for over 6 hours a day for a total of at least 10 months in a school year has a huge impact on their development, self-image, and self-esteem as well. So it’s heartbreaking and completely frustrating to learn about all of the negative experiences our children with Autism, including Jaiden, have had to go through just this school year alone.
I had already planned, a few months ago, to have my own Awards Ceremony for Jaiden at the end of this school year, but then I saw two horrifying stories of two students with Autism, both from different schools and states, receiving superlatives for “Most Annoying” and “Most Likely To Get Lost In A Crowd”. No child deserves that and nothing like that should be coming out of these schools that are supposed to be protecting and nurturing ALL kids that attend. After seeing those stories, and realizing the timing of my own Awards Ceremony for Jaiden, I felt even more of a need to share the right way to do it and how these schools need to do better when it comes to the care, safety, and well-being of their special needs students. One piece of advice I’d like to give to any teacher, administrator, or anyone working with our kids in the school system is to look beyond the diagnosis. By doing so, they can better see each child as an individual, making it easier to celebrate them for who they are and to acknowledge the progress and accomplishments that they make throughout the school year.
The awards I gave Jaiden were all based on his interests, things he loves to do, and his personality, which is how it should be done for every child. The awards were:
- Reading Rockstar- although Reading is not his strongest subject, he tries so hard and continues to get better
- Most Thoughtful- I truly admire his compassion and empathy towards others, he is a real life superhero
- Positive Attitude- he has come such a long way with his behaviors and aggression, and his positivity is infectious. You can’t stay angry around him and he’ll do his best to make sure you don’t.
- Best Dancer- dancing has always been his thing and it is one of the best ways he shows his carefree spirit
- King Of Comedy- he swears he’s a comedian, but he is naturally hilarious. It’s a gift.
- Talented Artist- art has and will always be a way that we bond, and it has been in our lives since I can remember. His creativity is amazing!
- Creative Writer- just like with Reading, he has been working hard on his Writing and Spelling as well. Something that really helps him is his love of creating Comic Books because it makes him want to write the stories that go along with the pictures he draws.
- Fashion Icon- I love that he has developed his own style and knows what he likes. When it’s time to get dressed up, he is fully involved and invested.
- Life Of The Party- he can bring energy and fun wherever he goes, it’s literally like a light enters the room.
- Super Scientist- he is a lover of all things STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) related and is really intrigued by how things work.
- Cool Cat- his confidence is out of this world! He’ll quickly let anyone know that he’s a handsome boy. Plus, he’s just awesome in general.
- Impressive Athlete- his Taekwondo skills are very impressive, not just physically, but mentally as well. The growth he has experienced since starting is amazing. He just earned his Orange Belt and is working on becoming a Junior Instructor.
- Math Whiz- it’s his favorite subject! He actually chooses to play Math games at home and on his tablet because he genuinely enjoys it.
- Class Sweetheart- he has such a kind and caring heart and is always willing to help a friend, teacher, or family member in need. He is a Sweetheart in school, at home, and in life in general.
- Brilliant Smile- I love his smile. His smile makes me smile. It makes everyone smile. Sometimes he uses this to his advantage.
A Closer Look Into The Process:
I ordered these cute awards through https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ and chose the ones that fit Jaiden best. For those teachers (if they will still have their jobs next school year) that couldn’t seem to find a more appropriate and positive award for those two students, this site can definitely help you find some inspiration. Then, I sent out some invitations to my family and we got together to decorate our living room. We had the balloons, cake, decorations, and set up a “stage” area with a table for me to congratulate him and call him up to receive his awards. We clapped and cheered for him as he walked down the stairs and had the graduation music playing in the background, he was so surprised! After he took it all in, I asked him to stand at the “stage” and tell us how he felt. It was so precious and powerful. After I presented him with all his awards (I had him sit down after each one just so I could call him up again to celebrate them all individually), we cheered some more and had gifts and cake! I will be doing this every year, and I have big plans in the future for other families as well!
To all my fellow Autism Parents, keep doing a great job raising, supporting, celebrating your kids. It truly matters. And to all the students with Autism that didn’t receive an award this year for all of your hard work, progression, and accomplishments, you are absolutely worthy of being celebrated and acknowledged. Never give up!