Tomorrow morning I leave for Peterborough for what will be the last time with Simon as a student at Arrowsmith, living in the Argyle student residence. I feel quite teary about that because Peterborough will always have a special place in my heart, and I think I can speak for Simon and say in his heart too, for the wonderful supportive Arrowsmith community, the teachers, the students and the parents, and all the other beautiful people we have met who have befriended Simon, and me, during his, and my, time there. For the beauty of the lakes, rivers and canals everywhere you walk, the walking trails, the unexpectedly delicious cafes, restaurants, the fresh and wholesome produce from the Farmers Market and the changing of the seasons. These last three years have been an extraordinary journey for Simon, as well as for the all of us who already cared for him and for those who have come to care for him in Peterborough. They will miss him, we will miss them but we will be happy to have him home. This has been a life-changing experience, his life will much different from that which it would have been had he not been to Arrowsmith. I shall leave you with the words Matt wrote to Simon at the end of his last report:
Simon: You are now a very different person than we met three long years ago. Looking back through your accomplishments it is very evident how far you have come. When you first arrived you were only able to do 1 or 2 pages of Word in a regular period and your Broca’s goal was to master just one set of 2-sylalble blends in a week! In your first year, your journal normally consisted of only a line or two each day and it was often about what you ate that day. Now your writing often consists of pages of legible thoughts, feelings, and well-articulated emotion. The final leg of your time at Arrowsmith has been difficult, but you have been able to push through and perform very well, and you should feel proud of yourself. You are now entering the final days of a long and extraordinary journey. It is a time where you can pause and enjoy how far you have come and not have to worry about the next Arrowsmith challenge or the next Arrowsmith year. You made it! As you move into the next stages of your life it will be important to remember what you have learned at Arrowsmith. Your brain will continue to grow and change for the rest of your life, but is up to you to ensure that it develops in positive ways. Continue to practice having positive reactions even in difficult situations. This will make you feel better about taking on challenges, and make the hard times feel less difficult. In the future, if things are not going well, think about where you need to focus your efforts in order to make things better. It is okay to look to others for inspiration; however, in the end it is up to you, and the energy must come from you. Don’t fall into old habits. Returning home to an old familiar environment may make it easy to slip into old ways, but it is up to you to ensure things are different. Positive actions will result in positive steps forward. Doing things how you always have will result in things staying how they always have been. You are capable of rebuilding things how you would like them to be, and it is also your responsibility—now is your time to shine. We have always had faith in you. It has been months since we have heard you say: “I can’t”, and we hope that is because you now believe you are as capable as we know you are.