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Sunday, May 31, 2015

One of the first things someone will likely tell you, when you have a child with special needs, is to thrown out the calendar of when they “should” be doing things. That they’ll get there eventually, no matter how long it takes them.

Sometimes the latter is true. Sometimes … well, it’s not. Still, we choose to proceed as though it will be, and who knows? We just might be surprised.

Jim is 10. I remember 10. I remember my pride in my growing independence, in walking to (the very nearby) school by myself. I remember how grown-up I told myself I was. My world was expanding, and I couldn’t wait for all the freedoms I knew were coming. I remember books I read at that age; in fact, since I was reading at an adult level then, I still re-read some of them today.

Jim is 10. His freedoms are smaller, such as the ability to get himself a snack from the kitchen cabinet. So are his milestones. He’s not ready to read “The Blue Sword” … he’s still fond of his ABC books.

If I start to make those comparisons … I’ll be honest. It can be a recipe for frustration and sadness for a parent. Will he ever be ready to read my favorite books? Will he be able to have those freedoms at all? Sometimes the milestones seem to come so slowly. I want my son to be happy, at whatever level he’s at, but I want him to have some independence, too.

No matter how much you love your child, these are things that go through your head.

This past week, Jim was honored with a Steps to Achieving Real Success award from the Erie 1 BOCES. He was selected from his classroom for his accomplishments, which include all the progress he’s made over the past few years, speaking in clearer sentences, improved use of crayons and markers and more. He’s a happy, social kid who loves to greet the folks around his school, and his teacher sang his praises in the write-up she prepared for the ceremony.

I sat in that audience and listened to the list of his accomplishments, and I thought about that advice I mentioned at the beginning of this column.

It’s still good advice, to take (and celebrate) each and every one of those milestones for what and when they are … not what someone else tells you they should be. He’s learning and he’s growing, and we’ll continue to take every step for what it is.

Jim’s a STAR. We knew it anyway, but he even has an award to prove it.

And I’m so very proud of him.


A Keppeler family favorite, Niagara Falls Comic Con is coming up Friday and June 6 and 7 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. For those who love any form of geekery from anime to Marvel to The Walking Dead, it’s well worth a trip across the border.

Children age 10 and younger are admitted free, but before you go, be sure your kids are able to handle crowds and costumes and a general amount of noise and hubbub. (As well as some potentially scary stuff in the Falls Horror Fest section, although that’s pretty easy to avoid if you keep your eyes open.)

(And also take this advice: Get there on the early side, because there’s a chance you might have trouble getting in once the crowd really swells. And once in, don’t leave unless you’re positive you’re not going back that day.)

For more information, visit

Jill Keppeler is immensely proud of both her sons. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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