Letting Go - Post High School Plans - Stewart Home & School

Letting Go – Post High School Plans

Family Finds SH&S Post High School

written by Stewart Home & School parent Piper

Thank you for inviting me to speak today and share my experience with Stewart Home & School.

I have been married almost 25 years to my husband, Harry. We have been living in Bloomington, Indiana for the past 11 years. Because of a job change we are getting ready next month to relocate to West Virginia. Between packing up all of our stuff to move, my second son graduating next week, and speaking about Stewart Home & School I actually thought of bringing a box of tissues with me wherever I go this month. It’s been very emotional.

I have three children – Lane , 19 who is a student here at Stewart Home & School. Gage, 17, is the one graduating next week and will attend GW in the fall. We also have a daughter, Bryn who is 13 and in 7th grade.

Our son Lane, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3.  All of his life, Lane has had a love for music. His first experience was in a mommy and me music class for newborns. We continued in some form of weekly music instruction until he stated kindergarten. His grandparents introduced him to folk music (which is his favorite genre) at a year old when they purchased a Peter Paul and Mary DVD for him. He has had a passionate love for folk music ever since. His favorite artists have included Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seger and his current favorite, Tom Paxton.

If you are familiar with people on the Autism spectrum, you know they have a variety of strengths as well as deficits.

Lane has always been outstanding at dates – remembering pretty much everything that has happened in his life since he was three. We would go to the doctor and I wouldn’t remember his immunization records -so I would say to Lane – “You will probably have to get a shot today” and he would say “No, Mom – remember I got that shot on this particular date several years ago… and he would be right every single time!

Lane remembers people as well. If you have met Lane once, then you are his friend for life. If you told him your birthday then he will wake up on your special day and let everyone know that it’s your birthday! I miss actually having him live at our house now, because my live birthday calendar no longer reminds me!

Like I mentioned before music has been a love in Lane’s life. The guitar has always been his favorite instrument.

In elementary school he wanted to learn how to play. We tried on several occasions to get him lessons but each time we were told that because of his disability he would not be able to play that instrument. In the summer before 9th grade, all of that changed when Lane decided that he was going to teach himself. We found out thru this process that Lane has been gifted with perfect pitch (only 1 in 10,000 people are blessed with this). He can hear a song and tell you what key it is in, what chords are used, and even on the guitar, what fret to put the capo on to make it sound correct!

This discovery led to an exciting revelation that Lane could get on his electronic device, throw headphones on, listen to the music, memorize the chord patterns and be able to play any song that interested him. He spent hours a day playing his guitar. He liked it so much in fact that there were several mornings we would be awaken to Lane serenading our entire neighborhood at 5:30 a.m. with his music!

Because he was finally able to express himself through music, it became an integral part of his life. In high school he wanted to be a part of choir and band but was told because he was an unconventional student that he would not be allowed to do so. Needless to say the public school system was not an encouragement for his dreams.

My husband and I decided we needed to find a place where Lane could do what he loved to do most.

Last year at this time while looking at different options for his post high school years, we came across Stewart Home & School. Immediately I was drawn to all that I saw on their website. My initial contact to the school was Shelley Sellwood-Davis. She was so kind and compassionate. You could tell she had such a love for this school community. After Harry and I made an initial visit to the school, we were driving out the gates and I turned to him and said “This is what kind of life I want for Lane!” I just new he would grow and flourish at SHS.

We brought Lane back for his student interview about a month later. He met Michael Ghant, his correspondent and also the music director here at SHS. He sat in on a band class that day. Lane brought his guitar and listened to  what the class was practicing. About 5 minutes in he picked up his guitar and joined in..like he had been there the whole year! He was so excited by the end of the class. He shouted “WOW! that was an hour class, it seemed like only 5 minutes to me! That was the best class ever! We took him home and he immediately ran upstairs, pulled out his guitar and wrote a song about SHS.

We enrolled Lane here in June of 2015. The first two months were a roller coaster for everyone, I think.. It just took him a bit longer to get used to the changes of not being the center of attention any longer. By early fall, he was fitting in and on schedule!

You know that a person loves some place when you take them home for a weekend and they remind you several times that they need to be back on Sunday “Because I LOVE my life at Stewart Home School!” We have heard this each time he has visited “The other place I used to live – not calling it his home because SHS is “My home now!”

Harry and I can’t thank SHS enough for giving our son the opportunity to do what he loves to do best in the most caring, loving and thriving environment.

Lane has discovered that he LOVES to bowl and has reminded me several times now to not forget to sign him up for fall bowling again. He enjoys square dancing with his fellow students. He has been able to sing in the choir and travel to different places with Michael Ghant and perform for people. He is learning how to write and perform songs which are not in the folk music genre on his guitar. SHS has given him such wonderful opportunities!

We are so impressed with Michael Ghant and all that he has done for Lane. His patience is never ending and Lane has great respect for him.

Lane loves his dorm parents, Ricky and Rita Shain. They have endless love and patience for all of the men in the dorm! We couldn’t be happier that they are Lane’s “Dorm Mom and Dad” He enjoys the other guys on his floor and sharing life with them!  Living on his own has been a great boost to his independence!

The teaching staff does a wonderful job of keeping Lane interested in life long learning in the classroom.

His experience on Sundays at church on campus here have been wonderful. He actually listens to what Pastor Bill is trying to teach him.

We are so happy with all the extra curriculars and fun activities that are planned on and off campus. Lane is a huge Elvis show fan! We were excited to be able to finally see what that show was all about!

SHS theme for this family weekend is We are Stewart! We all are Stewart, each of us having a relative  being privileged to attend here. We have special kids with special talents, needs, aspirations etc. I thank God every morning and pray over this school that it continues to bless our children and that our children can be a blessing to the incredible people who are SHS!

Stewart Home & School is one-of-a-kind community.  Most special education programs end at age 21, and then adult settings focus on vocational options and daily living skills.  Stewart Home & School assigns each person with special needs a special education plan in addition to goals for vocational placement, social maturity growth and daily living skills training.  Working together with the student, his/her family and the school faculty, each plan is implemented on a year-round, three-semester basis and schedules are adjusted as needed.

1 comments on Letting Go – Post High School Plans

  1. Jennifer Davis says:

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. I too am a member of the Stewart Home School Fan Club and so is my son, Michael who attends there ?

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