My adventure in Autism took an unexpected sharp turn recently. It became clear that my son needed to be homeschooled. That’s a huge change! Every homeschool mom deserves a medal — not including me because I am not doing it right yet. But I’m trying.
You see, my son is very smart. But many schools put our Autistic Spectrum kids into special ed, which assumes your child is behind. That left my son bored and stressed out from constant sensory overload.
He was always getting sick, had constant headaches and stomach aches, and I literally had to force him out the door. Every. Day. The stress was more than our family could take.
He was also coming home with bruises and heartbreaking stories about being mistreated by other children at recess. The principal had worked with us and the other students to resolve it. But it was always something new. If his ball wasn’t being kicked over the fence, he wasn’t feeling included in group games. Or he was getting in trouble for acting out. And we never did figure out how he was getting so bruised.
My decision to bring him home from school came after a series of events. First I had a 504 meeting on a Wednesday, in which everything went well. The staff and teacher said my son was right on track, doing well, and all the guidelines we had requested were being followed.
The very next day I got a lengthy email from his teacher outlining several ongoing problems that she had never mentioned before. She used these as her basis for a severe punishment that went directly against the 504 she had signed the day before! Yet she failed to mention any problems in our meeting. I removed him from school the next day.
It had become clear to me that these educators were sadly undertrained, and I didn’t have it in me to keep trying to show them the light any longer. We had been doing this dance for 3 years and that was enough. Every year we had a complete turnover of administration and teaching staff, and I was back at square one. So now, with two months of school left this year, we are homeschooling!
The beautiful thing is that my son’s health has already improved. He no longer has headaches, has only periodic stomach aches, and hasn’t been sick a day since he left traditional school. He has also been able to stop his anxiety medication. I haven’t fully figured out his learning style, and our homeschool has a long way to go before it’s where I want it to be. But we are on the road, and that’s exciting to me.
Now I can tailor his education to his special interests, when possible. It’s not even an effort to get an autistic child to follow their special interests. He will read anything and everything about his current loves. Right now we are growing plants, among them Venus flytraps and pitcher plants.
He gives everyone who enters the house a detailed and extensive lesson on carnivorous plants. Last week his love was cactuses. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up! But it’s an adventure, and I’m feeling better about his education.
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. Having completed training to be an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) for ABA therapy she is beginning to understand her son. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that the challenges can be overcome, and there are blessings in autism. You or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.