Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ugly Duckling or Beautiful Swan?

According to my son (Aspergers with Oppositional Defiant disorder) I have OCD. All because I tried to interest him in some stamps which I bought at a car boot sale the other day in an effort to motivate him.

In fact they were fascinating. As I sorted them into groups I found a set on the American Presidents which links in with the jigsaw, books and films about American history which I have stealthily introduced over the last few months.There were stamps of film stars, flying pioneers, landscapes. animals and plants and several people I have never heard of. A  great conversation starter for the price of  a pound!

Apparently stamps are 'boring' and 'old fashioned'. Or at least they were until my son learned that his Grandad used to buy mint sets of stamps which may be quite valuable now. Ah then his ears pricked up!

I wonder ,with the privatisation of the Post office whether stamp collections will become a thing of the past?We will have to see.Certainly they will be antiques  I found a stamp in my British collection franked 1932 bearing the head of King George. There is so much to be gained from studying stamps- history, science , biology, geography, even art.

I have not given up. I have painstakenly put my stamps in order in my stamp album and will wait and see what happens.

It is interesting to observe how my son learns when he is ready. He has been building a Japanese building on Minecraft and, a book which he rejected several days ago about buildings from around the world suddenly came into it's own when designing an original piece of architecture. He read an extract out loud too. Not a simple children's book but a non fictional adult account of Japan with extensive specialist terms and vocabulary.

 You just never know when he will be inspired- it's just a question of continually providing new resources and watching what happens. I refuse to give up or be down hearted or to worry about the fact 'that we are not doing enough'.If my son was at school I am acutely aware that the teachers would spend most of the time 'managing' his behaviour, which would be exaggerated due to his sensory difficulties with noise and lights.

 Sensory problems are such a huge part of autism and often not recognised.If my son withdraws into himself or suffers a melt down and explodes he will not learn.He will be excluded from school, as with so many other autistic pupils or put in isolation- exactly the thing that he most craves so that he no longer has to deal with the over stimulation of senses which he has to deal with at school. The noise and smells in the dining room, the bright lights in the classroom with their continuous buzzing, the school bell and the fire alarms.It is all a terrifying prospect.Oh and course there are the teachers who don't understand autism. Those that bully, or shout or punish children for not being organised- all of which could have been avoided if knowledge and understanding of the individual child had been there.

At home my son is settled and  happy.He joins in family conversations, comments on documentaries, films and the news. In fact he has valid views on most things . He is not stupid or dumb. In fact far from it. He is far above average intelligence and often makes us take a step back with the things that he knows. He will turn into an individual with his own opinions and ideas,untainted by the views of others, having reached his own point of view through research and reasoning. I am happy to watch him grow and to nurture his individuality.He will not end up 'a failure of the system' but as a success who overcame it.


  1. Those last few paragraphs really express where we are at with my 10yr old too. I'm aware that many may think we are not doing "enough" but if he was in school he would most likely spend 90% of his time refusing to do what they asked him and getting into trouble for it. At home he is happy (which has to be the most important thing, right?) and he is learning at his own pace. He may be "behind" now but when he puts his mind to it he can achieve great things. He is certainly very intelligent, he just doesn't yet see the point of boring stuff like arithmatic or spellings! Here's to our wonderful, special kids!

    1. I agree and happiness have to be a priority before learning takes place after all even NT people don't achieve much when they are stressed or under the weather. Being unhappy throughout childhood must leave a terrible scar which is very difficult to shake off (particularly for an autistic child who remembers every little details years after the event).Enjoy your time with your precious little boy!

  2. I have only just discovered your blog, and I am amazed how much like my son your son is. My son is 14, he has been out of school since June. He is supposed to be at the local pupil refferal unit but won't go in without me. Even with me there and in a small class of "vunerable" students, it all gets too much for him and we have to leave (we have not managed a full day since he started there in September). My son was diagnosed with Aspergers age 10, and last year I had a private OT come in to do a sensory assessment, she said he has sensory processing disorder. Like your son I can't get a straight answer to anything, he can't make decisions even simple ones such as what to have for breakfast.he says random things such as "I love my dog" when he doesn't know what to say. He constantly tells me he loves me, and when he was at school (I moved him because he was getting bullied) things got too much for him and he tried to strangle himself with his tie and put a plastic bag over his head on a number of occasions. He has real problems writing things down, but is very bright, he can do a rubiks cube in under a minute and is really good at maths and science. I am in themiddle of getting him statemented, but I can't see him going back to mainstream. I have been looking for a specialist school for him, but am struggling to find one that will meet his needs educationally. (I am in Lancashire). I am thinking I may have to home educate, but if he doesn't get any exams he is going to end up working in Mc Donalds or similar, he just couldn't cope with that. He won't even get on a bus, we can't go to theme parks or fetes because it's too noisy. Sorry I have gone on a bit, I am just wondering how you see the future for your son......

  3. Hi Christina I am so sorry that your son has had such a terrible time at school.Whilst it is difficult to look too far ahead I suspect that my son will always require some sort of 'support worker' particularly at times when things are stressful.Not necessarily a professional , it might be his wife (if he marries) ,a friend or his family.That said I think he will be able to live independently but he will need to tailor the enviroment to fit him.I suspect he will prefer to work for himself, preferably from home,probably remotely by computer,(He currently wants to create historically accurate games) He will shop online or during the night so as to avoid crowds.It will be interesting to see if my predictions come true.Whether or not he goes to Uni depends on what motivates him. One thing I am sure of is that we are not considering GCSE's now.If he needs them (and I'm not sure he does) He will decide when he is ready-it doesn't matter what age he is. Home education helps with life skills and without those he wouldn't be able to work , even with a first class honours from Oxford! I do hope you find what is right for your son.There are some great support groups if you go down the home education route and lots of autistic children so you wouldn't be on your own xx

  4. Thank you for your prompt reply Yvonne. I work for the Jobcentre (when I am not on carers leave) a single parent with a daughter as well, she has a rare genetic condition. My son wants to work in a science lab (he says) and I know what hoops the jobcentre make them jump through, he wouldn't be able to cope with "signing on" so I am hoping he will find employment somewhere......I just wondered how old your son is (can't see it anywhere in your blog).

  5. Christina, he turned 13 in the summer (so would be in year 9), academically he would be ahead of his peers in his'chosen subjects' ie history,english, IT although because we don't follow the curriculum behind in the basics of maths for example (although my husband has discovered him teaching himself higher maths!). He is behind his sister in maturity -probably 3 or 4 years due to his anxiety which is something I regard as a priority now. Have you joined Home educating our special needs children on Facebook or HE Special UK which is a web based forum. The mum's are wonderful and have lots of loving and practical advice to share right around the country.