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Why This Little Certificate Is Actually A Huge Deal

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My son, Riley was diagnosed with autism a year ago. It was, of course, not what a parent wants to hear but, we’ve pushed forward, even through times we wanted to quit. This is a story of one of those times. It’s for anyone out there who feels like there’s no hope and maybe wants to throw in the towel.


The moment above was a huge accomplishment for Riley, but it was also a win for my husband, Keith, and me. It came with an extreme amount of work — work we couldn’t have put in alone. Coaches like Coach D, who’s Riley’s hockey coach, showed him an amazing amount of patience. Coach Robyn showed Riley incredible kindness and care. Coach Josh and Coach Kelly showed Riley he was safe and could trust them. Coach Tom once sat in the hallway talking with us while I helped Riley through a huge meltdown. Coach Chad first worked with Riley out on the ice, encouraging him and giving him confidence.

We made it through an entire hockey season and never gave up. We finished it together as a family, for Riley, for ourselves. There were so many times Keith and I would think, Why are we doing this? This is nuts! Crazy! Oh my God, I just want to bury my head in a hole and never come out. Then we’d look at Riley and see his love for hockey. His drive was there; we just had to help him get the tools he needed. We dealt with extreme meltdowns — hitting, pushing, embarrassment. We probably looked like the parents with the uncontrollable child. I once heard someone comment, “Wow, number 2 (Riley’s number) is our entertainment.” As a parent with a child with special needs, those words kill you. It kills you to hear things like that because in your heart you just want to fix everything. If that person only knew the amazing accomplishment we’ve made (and now they will because I’m telling everyone!).

Who knows what the future holds for Riley, but I do know we’ll continue to support him. I cannot imagine what it’s like in his part of the world. For him to work through things and continue to show love and the drive is amazing. It just goes to show you the love, kindness, support, safety, confidence, encouragement and trust he needed to make it through.

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Originally published: March 5, 2015
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