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Denied a smooth transition from high school during the pandemic, David and Mercedes Rizzo's daughter, who has autism, needed a chance to say goodbye.

As the song says, “saying goodbye is never easy.” It has been exactly 8 months since our daughter Danielle has been to her high school, since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic closed things in March. Today, in November, we drove there to explain to her that she is not going back.

When June arrived, our daughter transitioned out of school because of her age. We had hoped to prepare for this transition and introduce the idea to her gradually. Also, we expected that there’d be structured activities and programs for her to transition to. The pandemic has not given us much of a chance for that.

Due to her autism, Danielle has been getting on the school bus since she was a small child, even over the summer to prevent regression of skills. So to have a school bus stopping at our house for so long is something that she had become very used to. Like many people with autism, she is someone who thrives on a routine and needs to transition gradually into new things.

And everything hit at once. Not only did the school bus stop coming to pick her up and take her to school, but many activities that she enjoyed doing, such as social groups, Special Olympics, and a supported employment job, have still not re-opened.

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Danielle seemed to be coping with all this as best she could but in the past couple of weeks we’ve noticed that this pandemic has finally gotten to her. She has had crying episodes and at times anger. She has asked for the school bus a few times on her communication device. We thought taking her back to the school to say goodbye might help.

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One chapter in her life is now over, leaving space for new ones to begin. #catholicmom

As we drove around in the parking lot she started saying the school cheers using her communication device. And she brightened up. We told her that school was over and she could say goodbye. She started waving to her old school and then used her communication device to say, “Goodbye. See you later.”

One chapter in her life is now over, leaving space for new ones to begin!

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Copyright 2020 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Images (top to bottom): Pixabay (2018); all others copyright 2020 David and Mercedes Rizzo. All rights reserved.