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Monday, March 21, 2011

Judging a Book By Its Cover

Whew! I have reclaimed my Mom Cave! Happy Monday to all!

The house is once again quiet after the weekend of chaos that comes with the three men in my life being home. Every Monday, I heave a huge sigh and wonder: at what age and stage of development do sons and husbands learn to live like civilized people?  Often, I feel as though I live in a fraternity house. I need a posse! Maybe I'll get a female dog...

As of today, I can add "homeschooler" to the list of things that I never thought I would do in life.It has been a fast and furious month for this family, and in a rare exception, our younger son was at the root of the activity.  He was our so-called "normal" child, what those in the autism community call "neuro-typical" (NT).  A very bright and inquisitive child, he has always had untamed energy. That energy often brought about a lack of focus. And, as he has aged, so, too, have these symptoms of what we now understand is high functioning autism.  He looks very normal. He speaks, well, A LOT. His vocabulary is vast. He's...quirky...but that seems to be how my family operates? I didn't pick up on the full picture until he was six. Now, nearly eight years old, he found himself in a private Montessori school where his quirky ways became a problem. His learning style was not something that the teachers understood, and his inability to make friends in a conventional way was misunderstood by his peers. I've learned that this is often the pattern for children with high functioning autism. While we were prepared to ride out the rest of the school year, we learned that not only was he not being educated properly but that he had fallen victim to bullying. He became a bundle of anxiety, and I could see him buckling under the pressure.

I will maintain that a diagnosis is NOT an end-point for children. Rather, I see it as a starting point, the answers that tell us how best that child can learn and reach his full potential. I was not ready to give up on him. So, we pulled him from his school so that he can be taught in a nurturing environment for the remainder of the year while we explore options in our local school system with supports for next year.


I'll say it: when I pictured a homeschooler, I wrongfully pictured a woman with long braids and hand-made clothing, perhaps wearing some natural deodorant and carrying liberal views about the proper direction of our country. I was closed-minded and fell prey to a stereotype. And, now I know that others will type cast me in a similar light. How laughable! And, how enlightening.

Many children with autism are wrongfully stereotyped as the next "Rain Man" or someone with a definite profile. Perhaps my older son would resemble the stereotype, but not all children with autism do. My younger son, just by being  has opened me to a new world.

Today, I begin homeschooling, yet I believe my son and I will be sitting side-by-side, both as teachers.


Have a great day!
Spedmom

4 comments:

  1. I love you! You have amazing timing and a super wit about you! Thanks for the recommendation Stephanie, I will be visiting The Mom Cave regularly and enjoying that "spa boy" right along with you, even if it is only in spirit! Thanks for making me laugh!

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  2. Thank you! Good-spirited fun is what we like here in the Mom Cave! Bring it on! I'm not wealthy enough to convince my husband to quit his job and spend the day as The Cave's resident spa boy. Until then, one must compensate, right? LOL! Right now, I'm thinking of what kind of goddess shoes I'd be wearing if I weren't running all day like a chicken with my head cut off...

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  3. I've heard that only 30% of autistic children are considered savant.

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  4. Thanks for your post! Are you referring to our older son, who has a pretty complex case of autism, or our younger son, who is high functioning? I home school our younger son, who talks about all sorts of insane facts and figures. This is a hallmark for people with high functioning autism. Generally speaking, they are a very intelligent population that is perhaps lacking something in the social department.

    Our older son shows signs of high intelligence, but he is low verbal. We can't discuss his thoughts. His autism is pretty complex, so it is hard to break into his world. I don't think we'll ever really know the answer to that, and that's ok.

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