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Letter from the mother of a WAVE scholarship winner - June 2010

Dear WAVE Scholarship Committee,

I know that Will (William Maxson was the winner in the 32nd Legislative District) is writing his letter of thank you but I want to join him in thanking you and the WAVE Scholarship Committee  for the great scholarship. The tuition is wonderful and he is planning to attend Lake Washington Technical College and use it well. How absolutely thrilling that he has tuition taken care of! But I also want to thank you deeply for the honor the State Legislature and WAVE has bestowed on my son and our whole family receiving this award.

William MaxsonWhen you learn your child has autism you go through many stages. And you also learn that your plans for your child may not be the plans that are realistic. My husband and I certainly never dreamed that our son, Will, would ever do anything other than start off at a four year college as we had done. But life has taken some unexpected turns.

When Will and his brother were diagnosed with autism, we did as a wise friend suggested: "rolled up our sleeves" and tried to do all that we could do. One activity, of course, was Boy Scouts. As a friend my husband had while he was still in the Coast Guard told him:  "Boy Scouts must accept every boy." William was the first of our three sons to be accepted into a troop. We found that while William never really had friends, he always had Scouts. And we tried to fill the void of social opportunities with Scouting activities and volunteerism. We also decided that even if William couldn't have a friend, he could be one. And through Scouts and church activities he learned that you can shape a life with volunteering. An abiding passion for him was the homeless and he still spends Saturday afternoons giving out coffee to patrons at the Downtown Emergency Service Center.


As it turns out he developed a passion for it. His instructor treated him like any other student welder and he learned that in the welding world you are judged, not by your social skills but by your job skills

But life has been hard for Will. One problem was the deep depression he felt with being autistic. As he put it: "I understand I have autism; I just can't accept it." Although school at one time had been easy for him, he hit the wall in high school and struggled just to get by. Because of this he was encouraged to think about the classes offered at the technical high school, Sno-Isles Skills Center. I assumed that if he was going to spend part of the day at a vocational school he would be studying computers or something like that. And so we went through the list of classes with me saying to him "Do you want to do this one? Do you want to do that?" "Not so fast,"  Will told me when we got to the trades section. "I think I might like to try welding." As it turns out he developed a passion for it. His instructor treated him like any other student welder and he learned that in the welding world you are judged, not by your social skills but by your job skills. And he threw himself into it. Through this past year his skills and self worth have grown by leaps and bounds. He has found something he loves but also a community in the welding shop that accepts him. 

Now my son, who was so depressed we didn't know if he'd be able to even get through school, is happy, and he is going to college. I am so thrilled and proud.

Seeing the growth Will had experienced, his special education teachers recommended that he apply for this scholarship. The thought was stunning to me. Usually our meetings were about the difficulties Will was having and trying to problem solve together how to get him through. Now they thought he was scholarship material. That meeting was such a gift to me. And when I thought about it his Eagle Scout work and his public service, I wondered if this  might make him a candidate. So he started to put together the application.

When we read that the scholarships were cut to one third, I thought there was little chance that my boy would be the one who would get the award for District 32. I still remember my feeling when I read the results and saw the star by his name which indicated that he was the top scorer for the district. I was stunned.

Since then there have been many moments of pride for my son and for our family. There have also been many times of joy. If you could have seen his face when he was presented the award you would be able to see how much it meant to him.


In that scholarship moment I felt like the dreams and honors that I felt my son should have experienced if he had not been afflicted with this condition were restored.

As a parent, I spent many  years seeing my son fall down the hole of autism and my dreams for him go with him. In that scholarship moment I felt like the dreams and honors that I felt my son should have experienced if he had not been afflicted with this condition were restored. Suddenly he was an award winner. It is not just about the tuition, although that will really help. It is also about the honor  the WAVE has given him with awarding my son the scholarship.

We never expected that our boy would find a trade as the way to go through, but it turns out he had more wisdom about it than we did. After he finishes at Lake Washington he is hoping to get hired by the Marine Welding Company where he has been doing his job shadow. Then eventually he might like to finish his degree at The Evergreen State College and possibly do decorative welding art. We are looking at helping him with his own studio someday. For a child they told us might not survive outside of a hospital or group home, those are pretty good dreams. Please add to that the self esteem he now feels as the recipient of one of the state's most prestigious awards. And you gave him that.


I feel that it is going to be Will's vocational education
which is going to be the key to his success . . .

I feel that William is accepting this award, not just for himself but for every young person who battles their way through autism to find a meaningful life. I feel that it is going to be Will's vocational education which is going to be the key to his success as a kid with autism in the neuro-typical world.

God bless all of you on the selection committee. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I believe my son will use the award well. But I wanted to be sure that you also knew how deeply meaningful this award was to a boy who has struggled with disability all his life. I feel that the achievement of it is another example of his fight to overcome obstacles and get on to the important business of being a successful and contributing citizen.

Thank you so much for all that this honor bestows on William and on our family. We are extremely grateful.

Sincerely,

Jan Maxson
Shoreline

Return to WAVE Page



Over 5,000 education programs linked to hundreds of occupations and providing detailed performance results. CareerBridge.Wa.Gov


Learn more about Career and Technical Education


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to WAVE Page



Over 5,000 education programs linked to hundreds of occupations and providing detailed performance results. CareerBridge.Wa.Gov


Learn more about Career and Technical Education


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to WAVE Page



Over 5,000 education programs linked to hundreds of occupations and providing detailed performance results. CareerBridge.Wa.Gov


Learn more about Career and Technical Education

   
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