Stephanie_JohnsstonSubmitted by Stephanie Johnston, parent of a former Landmark School student

All parents worry, but parents of children who learn differently worry a lot more.  From the time our son started school we worried.  There were vague worries: why isn’t he able to learn, respond promptly, organize himself, etc… There were specific worries: will he ever be able to tie a shoe? Read? Take independent responsibility for himself and his life?

Those of us who are able to get our child into the right academic setting are like survivors of a shipwreck clinging to the edge of a raft with our children safely in the middle. We watch from the sidelines as they gain academic and life skills in a uniquely supportive environment. We are sheltered from the storm for a short time, but always looming on our horizon is the bigger, impersonal world. The older your child becomes, the less accommodating the world at large becomes. The boy must become a man.

Leading up to the big transition from 8th to 9th grade, we worried ourselves sick that our son needed more time in his supportive school to build a foundation. What would happen if we pulled him out too soon? Yet, in the larger context, we knew he would have to make that transition – ready or not – and we timed it so he could enter high school with all of the other incoming freshmen; for better or worse he would be one of them.

When the first day of high school arrived my fervent prayer was that he would “cope and pass”. Our son is a man of few words, but I can tell a lot by his body language. He was waiting with a group of students at pick-up time; he sauntered over to the car loose, jaunty, relaxed… and hungry. The first day was great. Now, halfway through his freshmen year, he is an honor student at a preparatory high school. Some things are harder for him than others. His learning differences are still there but he owns them with an easy confidence. He is fine.

After all these years of intense, urgent, appropriate worry “all of a sudden” it’s coming together for him. When he was at Landmark we parents all worried together. Every child is so different that no two journeys will be the same. Many parents of older children offered me encouragement, telling me our son would be fine, but I was too worried and the future was too murky for me to relax. Now we can see the four years of intense support and instruction that he received at Landmark laid a wonderful foundation for success. Were it not for that, he wouldn’t be where he is now. So with tremendous relief and gratitude, I can say yes, there is life after Landmark and it’s good.

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  • Well said and so true! God Bless the Landmark Community for what they do for our children. We truly appreciate their expertise and their hearts, for it is both that make it work for our kids.

  • Stephanie, I could not be happier reading this about Cameron!!! Congratulations to you and your family as all the sacrifices were well worth it. Sending our very best, Jenna, Darren and Sadie Slattery

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Life after Landmark for our family has been rich with gifts of success that all seem to have started with tools and a foundation that Landmark is credited for. A feeling of success and knowing who you are and what you are string at and what is hard. Feeling the win from Landmark and knowing that you can always reach back for support or a warm hug or encouragment and inspiration. Even just bending a familiar ear. I will forever be grateful to the school, its vision and staff for giving my daughter her life and giving our family back theirs. We lived a lot of years focused only on the disability. Celebrate every win. Best to all.

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