Friday, 1 February 2013

A Square Peg in a Round Hole!

I'll have this one Mum!

Aww isn't he cute!
Whenever I go out I take my camera with me. It helps me to get a better view of life.Even on grim dark days when the rain is lashing down there is the potential to see something beautiful like the heron which swooped up in front of me from the brook or the fossils on the beach.Even the snow in the crook of the tree branches can create a good picture or the swirl of the water in the stream.

It started as a way of recording our home education. Every year I have a report to prepare for the Local authority to enable them to check that I am educating my son in accordance with his 'age and ability'. Although I also have a journal, the photos often bring activities vividly to mind, like the January morning in Scotland when we crunched our way through the snow to a farming museum. It was term time and the museum was virtually empty so the lady curator had all the time in the world to talk to us about how the farm had developed in Victorian times. or the day we lay on the grass in the sunshine studying a mole as it used it's legs like shovels to tunnel itself into the soft soil.

Although there is the option to have a visit from a home education officer, for many Autistic children  the mere thought of a visit by a stranger can cause extreme anxiety and my son is no exception. The very mention of anyone at all linked to the education system would  bring back memories of his time at school . His reaction to strangers can be unpredicatble to say the least. If stressed my son can become completely mute and seem to be unable to reply. He has explained that his senses are overwhelmed and it's as though he is in a bubble. He can see peoples lips moving but is unable to hear them.

To anyone with little knowledge of autism he can seem rude and unresponsive. At other times he can become abusive and violent if confronted or pushed.We were in the dentist surgery one day and my son was waiting in the reception area. The receptionist arrived after I had been taken in to see the dentist so was unaware of my son's condition. She started to pass the time of day with him and was told in no uncertain terms not to talk to him. By the time I came out he was quite agitated as she had continued to ask questions in an attempt to ascertain if he was a patient.

Then there are the times when my son's disability is completely hidden. Times when he is comfortable in his own skin because he is accepted for who he is and he knows it. We have friends who don't push him, don't question him and don't confront him. With them he is a happy, chatty little boy. When we went to buy our puppy earlier this year he was so excited that he happily chatted with the owner, explaining he was autistic and home educated. Learning about the kennel club and reading Rusty's family tree he came back home having learned without being 'taught' because he was happy and ready to listen. That's how it is with him- if you manage the stress then the learning will come.Unfortunately the school environment, with it's noise and lack of routine was never the right place for him to learn. There was too much to overwhelm him and he needed the one to one support that home education can bring That's why it has been so successful,we are changing the environment to suit the child,not the child to suit the environment.

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