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!