Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Home is where the learning is...

While we wait for issues in our lives to resolve, we are teaching Billy at home. It may last a couple of days, or a week or longer... who knows?

I know lots of you are already homeschoolers. I know lots of you are autism parents. If you are not either of these things (or even if you are), indulge me for a moment.

I'll start by saying, I can see how homeschooling has its drawbacks. There's the social questions. There's the lack of consistent peer modeling. There's the general challenge about what the hell are you supposed to know what teach. Never mind how in hell will I ever have a haircut again?

But, it seems right now, to have a LOT of benefits. For all of us.

We are very fortunate that Billy has a very easy-going temperament. He is loving and joyful and connected. Most of the time. These make for a pretty solid atmosphere in the house. We are also fortunate that Billy is relatively bright. We have the odd Rainman moment (as in the freaky, how-does-a-seven-year-old-even-know-that-fijian-banded-iguanas-exist kind of moments) but generally, he's keen to find stuff out. He loves what he loves, but he's happy to find out random stuff just for the hell of it. He's kind of like both of us in that regard.

These last couple of days, we have done art projects. We've read aloud and asked each other questions on what we've read. We've visited the pool, the park and the playground. We've written stories and emails to Nanna. We've cooked, we've done maths, we've researched, measured, speculated, designed, planned and reported.

I'm sure we will hit walls all along the way, whatever schooling journey we choose for the next part of our lives. I'm definitely sure it will be challenging. I'm certain I will struggle with the responsibility of big  and small picture education issues. Hell, I'm always struggling.

But, what we have in our house is a well child, a happy child, an engaged child.

He is suddenly planning projects, and strategising how we could best find an answer to his questions. He is seeking resources on line and on the bookshelves (should we tell him we are going to pack them away soon??). He is laughing. A lot. His lists of anxious protective behaviours ('I will not have good dreams, or scary dreams, or bad dreams, or nasty dreams...') are getting shorter every night.

I worry about his friends. I worry for them, and for Billy. I miss them, and Billy misses them, and I know  (and he doesn't) that we won't see them every week day like he has in the last two years. I worry that he misses the deep value he gained from building trusting, loving relationships with credible, loving, compassionate adults who were not related to him. I worry that he will lose his ability to be socially independent. I worry that he will lose the buffer zone where he learns how to be a kid by watching the consistent behaviour of the same group of peers every school day (and the odd birthday party weekend). I worry about the loss of community, for all of us.

Then I remember that this is not forever. And even if it is, we are consciously (painfully) aware of the challenges. I know we have a team of therapists, and doctors and friends who will help keep us real and respond to our need for connection and consistecy. We can and we will make the best (if not always the 'right') decisions. We have brought him this far, and we will continue the journey with love and honesty and white-knuckle-adrenalin-pumping-reality-checking integrity.

I will not miss the ignorance. I will not miss the judgement. I will not miss the misinterpretation or the unspoken assumption that we are less than complete as a family, or as individuals.

I know I've said this before, and I will say it again. (nooo... I hear you cry)

I would not wake up screaming for it in the night, but... having a child with special needs, to me, is an exquisite gift. It is a life circumstance that challenges and defines and strips away extraneous layers. It's equal parts terrifying, confronting and affirming.

I know I am alive. And I know how important it is that I value and live each and every moment with integrity, honesty and passion.

In the words of Mr T, 'I pity the fool'... who doesn't get it... or who questions it, without an inescapable reason to understand it.

And, speaking of Mr T, now I need a Snickers.

1 comment:

K- floortime lite mama said...

i LOVE this post Val
I always feel like the pioneer mum metaphor applies to us