They Focused on What he COULD DO. Not What he Couldn’t

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I stood outside the school and waited.  I was apprehensive and prepared for the onslaught of negative behaviors Declan had committed on his first day of preschool.

I was somber, yet ready.  All my kids had made sure I got to know what “your child is a nightmare” look from the teacher was, what the offices looked like for after school meetings and how the conversations usually went.

The door to the school opened, and the children came out, two by two holding hands.  They were being led to the bus line which Declan would soon join once his registration was complete.

I eventually saw Declan, being led by the teacher who was securely holding his hand.  Declan’s head swayed back and forth.  I looked to the teacher and a confused look crossed my face.

Why was she smiling?

“Hello!” she called as she led Declan to me, “Declan, look!  It’s your mommy!”

Declan’s head continued to sway.

“Hi Declan!” I said as the teacher directed his hand to mine, “Did you have a good first day of school?”

We waited a second, but Declan made no response.

“Were things okay?” I hesitantly asked the teacher.

“Declan did GREAT!”  the teacher exclaimed.


“He did?”

“Yes!  He was able to sit in group or a full two minutes.  That is fantastic….”

I zoned.  I was hazily smiling.  The conversation continued until I said our goodbyes and led Declan to the car.

I strapped Declan in and began to drive.  At the stop light I stared off at the red light and wondered in awe,

“Any other teacher would have told me about the 18 minutes of group time where he was disrupting class….She told me about the two minutes he had success….”

And I knew.  Declan was in good hands.

From day one, Declan’s teacher and therapists focused on what Declan COULD DO.  Not what he couldn’t.

Those things were written as goals.  And so many goals were achieved!

One of my favorite summaries to look at, is the decrease in aggression.

From the first IEP meeting, where I saw the incidences of aggression, and all the subsequent meetings where the decrease was clearly visible.  Declan was making progress!



Declan graduated from Preschool yesterday.  With a heavy heart, we are saying goodbye to the teachers and therapists that helped him grow SO MUCH.

He is ready and he is excited for the venture ahead.

Me?  I’m terrified!  I love the teachers and therapists he had and the focus they had for him.  Declan has been with them for three years now and they helped him grow so much.  I shudder to think if Declan were never diagnosed, or never had the support of this great group as early as he did.  I am so thankful for the work they did with him and the love, support and understanding they provided him.  They are truly amazing!

Declan had a wonderful graduation.  The family all supported him and wore his favorite superhero shirts.  We cheered as he walked down the aisle and sang his songs.  Spent a lot of time reminiscing with the teachers and therapists and took Declan home to play “Pin the Spider on Spiderman” with his grandparents who were there to support him.


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Getting his Diploma and Graduation Ring (Pop 🙂 )



Then we were off to Declan’s favorite place in the world, our local pool.

What makes all this easier?  Declan still has his summer session ahead.  I know I still have more time with this wonderful group.

Some more time for me to feel at ease and for Declan to stay on a schedule and remember all the skills he has learned to prepare for the road ahead.



20 thoughts on “They Focused on What he COULD DO. Not What he Couldn’t

  1. Congrats to Declan🎉✨🎊🏅 Starting over with a new teacher is scary. I hope you guys have an easy transition. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you! 😀

  2. 🎈Congratulations! 👏Had to stop by for celebrating this news with your family😉
    So proud of Declan. Teachers will love him wherever he goes, he seems so eager to do well.

    1. Thank you so much! You are right – he is eager and likes to please. Good traits on the road ahead!

  3. Another milestone completed, he looked so happy 😁 There will probably be up and down moments at his next school but nothing that you both won’t be able to handle because you are a super hero mom 😘

  4. Wow! What a great achievement. I’m happy for Declan, for you. He is making great progress. Well done, Robyn. You are doing great, well done to your family, I see you and your husband wearing Spider-Man shirts in support of Declan. God bless you.

  5. Hello Robyn. You and Declan are so lucky to have such lovely, dedicated, positive thinking teachers. Concentrating on what people can do rather than what they can’t is a behaviour people should practice with everyone.

    1. They truly are wonderful! I will be so sad to leave them when Declan moves on. I agree! They are such a blessing!

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