Harvard Degree Not Required

Not every kid was meant to attend college.

Being “gifted” does not exclusively apply to the intellectually superior.

If you measure a fish’s value by how well it can ride a bicycle, you would probably conclude that it had little worth.

A person who never got an “A” in anything may turn out to be the finest person you ever met.

Three of my kids have college degrees. One does not – she lacks the intellectual capacity. She has a job she loves where she is valued, works very hard, and is treated with great respect by her co-workers for her conscientiousness and the pride she takes in her work. She has accomplished more than we ever imagined for her after we were given a diagnosis we never expected and, for a long time, refused to accept.

My three college girls are great kids – they also work hard and have much to be proud of. We communicate on a completely different level, and our relationships change and grow and deepen. It’s harder with Allie, because her ability to be in relationship is the heart of her disability, but the growth she has demonstrated over 28 years has been staggering to watch. She has developed a level of insight that rivals that of her neurotypical sisters – and that is nothing short of Nobel-prize level work in my book.

Our kids’ academic accomplishments are fun milestones to celebrate, and with all we go through as parents, why not? But Allie has taught me – thank God she has taught me – that the grades and AP exams and college acceptances mean so little compared to raising decent children (although those two things are not mutually exclusive).

When it first occurred to me that Allie would never go to college, I was devastated. Then came the period where I wondered if there might be some other area where she could excel – and she is a gifted rider – but I finally learned that she’s just my Allie – and she’s really pretty magical just the way she is.

Some kids are academic dynamos, or compete on an Olympic level in sports – they are superstars, otherworldly, who win every award and will probably excel at everything their entire lives.

Most kids are not, but they do okay. Then there are kids like Allie, whose gifts are harder to see, and perhaps not as worthy to some. That’s okay – the people who know her understand, and I can always tell if someone is going to be worth my time by how they treat Allie.

I’m so glad she’s mine.

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