Raising a son with autism, you have to cheerlead every step of the way. From going potty to saying, "thank you," to having him ask for what he's wanting without just making a struggling sound because he's not getting what he needs, every day is different. Thanks to the great teachers at Gilbert and helpful staff at Children's Village, I'm one proud papa to say that my son just graduated Kindergarten.

It should also be known I've never been fond of ceremonies or celebrating the checkpoints. When I was growing up, we had graduation. That's it. You graduated high school. Sure, you could go to college if you wanted to and that's worth a ceremony as well, but I've never been too fond of graduation ceremonies for pre-school, elementary school and so-on. Yes, it's cute and fun, but I don't know if it's truly necessary.

My son, Jaron, getting through the school year and to have his teacher express interest on him moving up to the next grade level is more than I could've hoped for.

The graduation ceremony, itself, was nice. All of the Kindergarten children sang a few songs, they showed a slideshow of the year and made sure not to leave anyone out. Although my son was far more interested in stealing the balloons that other parents brought for their kids, he did relatively well, all things considered.

Afterwards we went back to the classroom and celebrated with milk and cookies.

Jaron with Milk and Cookies / John Riggs

Autism comes in all levels to all ages from all sides of the spectrum. He has a sever case where he doesn't speak much. He'll only say something if he wants something, but even that's pretty limited. He'll run off and grab something that may or may not be his if he wants it. He's more than a handful and whenever my wife and I are out with him, all of our attention is making sure we make it out without breaking anything or having him hurt anyone accidentally.

The difference between what he was like this time last year and how he has progressed is almost night and day. I'm looking forward to see what the first grade will bring him.