It has been a year since I pulled small boy out of school and it has been a very short year at that. The saying “time goes fast when your having fun” well the same can be said when you do not have the stresses the previous`seven years in the school system. It was a much needed decision and even now trying not to get caught up on the regret of not doing it sooner is one I fight quite often.
What we have learnt over the past year is that you do not need formal education. Yes it may be the usual way of getting children to learn, especially in this country and the reason for that is because it is an easy way of delivering the same level of education to a large number of students at the same time. The problem then occurs when you have a child who can not learn in this way. I am also not sure how many adults would cope with being sat listening to someone telling them lots of new information in a short amount of time with the expectation that they will pretty much remember it along with the rest of the new information they are bombarded with on a daily basis. Lots of children cope with this on a daily basis and from an age that is getting earlier and earlier and it is great that it works for them, the problem is when it doesn’t work and when the child get the blame for it not working when no failings in the system is accepted by the masses. The damage this causes to the child takes a while to mend and this is what we are still doing a year on.
The onset of puberty doesn’t help with his emotional state in the slightest and his emotional state impacts on his daily learning. We have to judge this on a daily basis and be flexible enough so we can fit every thing in with his mood.
We have thrown out the idea of formal education, it doesn’t work for him so instead things are having to be approached in a completely different way and that challenge can do more than hurt my own brain at times. There is no ‘thinking out side the box’ you have to think as though there was no box in the first place. It is geared towards his own interests which takes some imagination on my part and lots of explaining of how important these things are for him to learn. His experience of education has seriously damaged him, if he doesn’t understand something straight away he takes it personaly still comparing himself to ‘other’ children not to mention still having anxiety over what went on while at school.Because of these issues a lot of time is being done on emotional wellbeing and understanding emotions, it is becoming more and more apparent at to what level on the spectrum he is on. I do still battle with people expecting him to behave and react as someone who isn’t on the spectrum at all, including family members and it is exhausting having to constantly have words and try and explain it to them that his brain isn’t wired the way where it responds in the ‘normal’ way.
There is no point getting frustrated at the fact you have to constantly repeat the same instructions several times a day, he doesn’t respond to the whole “if you are good you can have …..” because the thing is he isn’t actually naughty. Yes we get the teenage attitude, yes it is hard to work out where the teenage hearing and natural pushing the boundaries start and where the ASD starts but that is because it is that mixed in with each other if it is confusing for us it is bound to be even more confusing for him. It still feels as though it is my boy and I against the world, especially when it comes to explaining how we choose to educate.
It is more and more child lead than i first thought it would be … before anyone starts on me for the term ‘child lead’ let me point out that NO it doesn’t mean that he has all of the say in what he learns but is in fact a way of learning that is geared to his natural interests and is done in his own natural progression as apposed to that determined by the government. I am always heard saying “education is no longer restricted by age” and it isn’t. Lots of people seem to be unnerved by the fact he isn’t doing his GCSE’s right now like others his own age and are horrified when i reply with “he isn’t ready” and can you imagine their faces when I say that he may not do them until he is much older. What isn’t helped is the lack of support, there are other home ed groups in our area but not in our town, trying to find others that are the same age as him who he feels comfortable with is also hard. We were hoping he would keep in touch with friends from school, this hasn’t happened because their parents have banned them. This has mixed feelings from me. Yes I do not like seeing him have no friends but at the same time these friends still cause trouble in the local area, go around making a nuisance of themselves in town and i would also say that 90% of them smoke. Small boy can be highly influenced and taken advantage of by people, this was proved with his behaviour at school when not only had he smoked on occasion, pinched mine for friends and would do exactly what his friends would tell him to do without a second thought. I am yet to find anyone locally who not only has the same ideals and life style as our family but also has a child the same or similar age and on the same wave length as small boy. So it is just us two for now. This can be hard, people just do not seem to get it even those who have always known us and know the situation.
With all that being said he has not been this happy since he was little and that alone makes up for any of the negatives.
I am making steady progress on planning how we are going to be doing things, everything does seem to be constantly evaluated and one day I may be set on one way of doing things and the next day it changes to another approach, it is still a learning curve for both of us. He is essentially being taught a whole curriculum surrounded by Minecraft and has a strong drive towards design and computer programming. I have to repeat the reasons behind him having to learn things he doesn’t feel right now is important or relevant to his interests or what he wants to do in the future. This is of course part of the norm with people on the autistic spectrum and even though he doesn’t have a formal diagnosis the more I implement what is suggested for ASD Aspergers children the more things run smoothly and make sense. It would be nice to get support and help from out side agencies but the fact that the help isn’t there has to be accepted. No point dwelling on it is there?!
More will be coming on what we have put into place at a later date.