Thursday, 18 September 2014

The one that got away!

I watched as my seventeen year old son and his fourteen year old sister piled their rucksacks into the car and drove off to Explorer camp for the weekend and realized just how grown up they are now. Both have been camping for several years and now have packing down to a fine art- the only difference this year was they were going together and my son was driving.That meant a few tweaks buying extra equipment but we know from experience it will get used.Next on the list will be a good quality two man tent for wild camping- we are savhing up for that!
So that leaves three of us, my husband,myself and my fourteen year old son with Aspergers.We have a very quiet house!
This week has been interesting.It is the week in which one of my children has started her GCSE options and her twin brother has chosen none.They're both academically able but very different children.
We are going against the flow.We have encouraged our daughter to choose subjects she enjoys rather than those recommended as 'going together'. One of the subject she chose is Land based sciece,a largely practical exam,designed to interest the farm lads who don't want to be in school.There is a risk they might disrupt the class (so far they haven't) but my daughter's attitude is that she'll get on despite that if necessary.In fact most of them have a lot to offer,already one has shown her how to turn a sheep over onto it's back! This week my daughter was allocated a Tup and was asked to check it's health.She learned to age it by it's teeth,checked its ears and feet but before she got to weigh it it took an almighty leap and jumped a two metre high fence - it was the sheep that got away. My daughter has a nick name Bo Peep!
Then there was a trip to the Westmorland show - the high light?Well it seems to have been the Sheep show! A sheep with a Bob Marley  hair style was the star.It did some " Jammin'" (sounds like my idea of education)
As for my son, he continues to monitor current affairs, the scottish referendum,the Invicta games and to make his views very vocal in our discussions.Whatever he decides to do - he's unlikely to become a sheep farmer!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Learning new things!

We all need to learn in order to grow and develop,parents too! That's why education is important but school isn't.It doesn't matter where you learn or when you learn it as long as you continue to search out new things. That's why when you are struggling with home education, as we all do at times,it's good to take a step back and instead of asking  "What should I be teaching my children" perhaps we should ask"What do I want to know?"

Because an interested teacher is a motivated and enthusiastic teacher and that shines through.

Of all the parents of children with Autism that I know,the ones that shine through are the ones that get on and do things in spite of their child's autism. It doesn't mean they don't struggle or get down but they have learned to set goals and go for them and, surprisingly, it is their achievements which improve their own quality of life ( and often that of their autistic children too)

This week, after four years, one friend has published an ebook about autism   Having struggled to come to terms with the diagnosis of not one but two of her children and the attitudes she found towards her when she was struggling in public to control them she decided to do something about it.

Another friend took up running and discovered a passion which she could share with her family.

Yet another writes a fabulous blog about her hill walks with her son Evan in the Lake district. She is inspirational and has shown just how much can be achieved through home education, and yet another has just completed the great North run!

I am surrounded by positive people and it rubs off!

So that just leaves me - what have I learned this week?

We entered Benny and Rusty for the first time  in our local dog show (we didn't win anything, but it's the taking part that counts,right?) But don't worry we'll be back next year now we know the judge prefers spaniels (just have to work on the spaniel fancy dress costumes for our border terrier and black labrador)

Oh, and did I mention I've taken up running? It's a twelve week course called from Couch to 5K and I've just about got off the couch at the moment but watch this space- with all the nudges and winks going on in our family it's like a red rag to a bull. I'll show them!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Following interests makes for motivated children

It's been  six years  since I first started home educating my autistic son . It's been an interesting journey and has not always gone according to plan but I'm so glad I did it , both for him and for our family. As I read the comments of many parents on facebook who are glad the summer holidays are over I feel sad that they are unable to enjoy quality time with their children because of the pressures of work, trying to juggle child care and jobs and the difficulties that arise through having intense periods of family time when you have to cram so much into six short weeks.

Being at home with my son has allowed us to really get to know one another, to realize that we often need our own space, that we are different people and I have had to accept that for this child , at this moment,outside activities and crafts are not for him.

We have however discovered a common interest in history, me in the people, him in the events and the inventions and that's how we came to be at the Bovington Tank museum on Monday.

It all started a few months ago when he announced he would like to visit the biggest tank museum in the world- Bovington Tank museum. I'd never heard of it  so I did some research and discovered it was seven hours away in Dorset.

My son has just turned fourteen and getting him to set foot outside the house is a major operation so for him to ask to go anywhere is unusual. We took the bull by the horns and my husband booked a Premier inn in Dorchester,half an hour away from the museum and the visit was planned.

 I've noticed on several occasions now that when my son wants to do something
 1. He isn't stressed going out
2. He often doesn't wear his ear defenders
3.He eats just about any food given to him and
 4. He sleeps at night.

 For anyone who doesn't live with an autistic person they could argue that we just give in to him normally and that he's perfectly capable of going to bed at a sensible time and eating the same food as the rest of us,but as a friend put it yesterday "they don't know the wall that is autism"

My theory is that motivation overcomes all fear and anxiety enabling my son to do things he would normally find really hard.

What a success! We sat in a chieften tank and learned how they worked,
travelled in an APC,
watched a display of tanks and personnel carriers and learned the science behind tracks as opposed to wheels
 visited a reproduction world war 1 trench , a mock up of an army base in Afghanistan and walked through a hall showing the history of tanks starting with Little Willie and Mother to the present day! My son even completed a quiz sheet as he wanted a goody bag - for a boy who hates writing that's no mean feat. Six hours of pure unadulterated learning, no cohercian or pressure,just a desire to learn more! It has worked for my autistic son and convinced me that whilst school would not have worked for him, home education most certainly has! Interest led learning is the key!