Akshay Class of 2021

A lot of people have asked if I got emotional at graduation. I did, at this very moment, when Akshay moved his tassel from right to left. I thought about the huge amount of effort it took to get that tassel to move. All the advocating, arguing, tears, and prayers over a 15-year period. The sheer volume of people who believed in Akshay and to get him where he is today. This is a small part of his village:

  • 5 Principals
  • 5 Assistant Principals
  • 2 Guidance Counselors
  • 12 Elementary School Teachers
  • 16 Middle School Teachers
  • 12 High School Teachers
  • 7 Special Education Teachers (who did double duty as Case Managers)
  • 2 Resource Specialists
  • 6 Speech Therapists
  • 3 District BCBAs
  • 4 Occupational Therapists
  • 3 Reading Specialists (at school)
  • 4 School Psychologists
  • 9 1:1 Behavior Aides
  • 5 School Nurses
  • 1 Inclusion Counselor
  • 16 Classroom Aides
  • 3 ABA Companies
  • 40+ In-Home ABA Therapists
  • 6 In-Home BCBAs
  • 3 Bus Drivers (yes, they helped) 
  • 2 Neurologists
  • 1 EEG Guru
  • 2 Functional Medicine Doctors
  • 2 Assistant Special Education Directors
  • 4 Special Education Coordinators 
  • 4 Auditory Processing Programs
  • 1 Outside Reading Program
  • 15 Reading Specialists (outside)
  • 1 Independent Educational Psychologist
  • 1 Vision Therapy Program
  • 2 Special Education Attorneys
  • 1 Speech Company
  • 3 Outside Speech therapists

….and I’m pretty sure I’m missing a few people

Bear in mind these are the people we liked. There is a good number we could have done without, the people who couldn’t be bothered and limited him by his diagnosis.  This also doesn’t include his sister (who is the one who finally got him speaking), his family, friends, family, TACA Aunties/moms, other therapies, programs, and so many more who helped us.

Fifteen years ago, Akshay was considered moderate to severe. He was diagnosed as non-verbal as he spoke only ten words and couldn’t put them together in a sentence or answer questions.  He had extreme sensory issues.  He couldn’t stay still; he was constantly running, jumping, slamming himself into our walls.  He had his fingers in his ears constantly as he couldn’t tolerate sounds.   Akshay was also very aggressive, and it happened everywhere.  At home, in the community, and especially at school. 

TACA was the biggest support of all.  If it weren’t for TACA, I would have been lost!  I went to Chapter meetings, Coffee Talks, TACA Conferences, and Family Events.  I got myself a Parent Mentor to help guide me through IEPS, services, and medical. I read my Autism Journey Guide over and over and spent a lot of the time researching on the TACA website. We were lucky to be recipients of some very important TACA scholarships too.  We leaned on our fellow TACA moms/dads when things got rough, and we celebrated all the milestones, gains, and victories with them too. 

What it really comes down to is Akshay. He did it. He did all the work, all the programs, all the classes, all the learning. He did the labs, the assessments, the appointments, and all the testing. He persevered and battled on no matter what.  He had really tough days, days that it was too much.  Through that, Akshay regrouped, and every day was a new day to try again. It was not easy, but he did it. Akshay made that tassel move, and we couldn’t be prouder.

When we started at TACA 15 years ago, these are the articles that helped us:

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