I've said time and time again that for kids with special needs, developmental delays, and learning disabilities like my son Cooper, parents must set different standards of success. For instance, when I was in grammar, middle, and senior high school, I was expected to keep “honor roll” grades—A's and B's—or else I was grounded or had privileges revoked.

My parents held very high expectations in the matter of grades because I have always done well on schoolwork and tests. In other words, I was a naturally good student so when I displayed poor performance, my parents knew it was from lack of trying rather than lack of understanding.

With my son, Cooper, however, it's a totally different ball game.

In fact, after his determinations he received last year from the special education testing committee at his school, my husband and I were basically told to expect our child to fail. That's why each week  we anxiously await Cooper's score from his sight-word test given each Thursday. For the last several weeks, he's failed his test.

Last week was no different. Except it was.

It was different because, although he failed by scoring standards, Cooper showed great improvement in correctly reading his words. He missed few answers and scored a higher grade than he has since that first test. His assistant teacher, who administers Cooper's tests, took a few minutes to brag about my son to me in the car line the day of the test. She was proud at hard Cooper tried to read the words and how he was remembering many of the different signs we had created for each word to help him remember.

No, my child didn't bring home an A or B or even a D test score.

He didn't win a piece of candy for highest grade or get his paper displayed on the honor roll bulletin board. No, my Coop did something better than that. He tried and didn't give up. He felt pride in himself because his teachers praised him for doing better, though by most standards, he still failed. Though the red mark on the test read “F,” Cooper was a winner in my eyes.

For parents like us, it's not the end result that gives us bragging rights. It's our children's desire to try and give it all they have, even if they can only give an inch where others give miles.

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