Wednesday, January 27, 2010


We're now 5 months into being a homeschooling family.  Our plan was to homeschool Kindergarten, and then drop him gently into grade one next year.  But I feel as though I have unearthed this beautiful gem in homeschooling, that I knew nothing about.  Turns out I love it.  And I don't feel as though we exist in a bubble, I feel like we are a part of a vibrant, lovely community.  I though homeschooling might be isolating, but it is actually quite the contrary.
I wanted to homeschool so that Aiden could get the supports he needed.  I wanted to homeschool so that I could teach him in the way that he'd learn best.  I really feel that both of the goals are being met, and surpassed.  But now I see how homeschooling affects families.  I see families where siblings are growing up together, not seperated from each other all day long.  And how learning isn't seperate from family life, but a natural flow, teaching your own child math and language arts is as natural as teaching them to say please and thank you.  It just feels right. 
I attended an autism support group last night, and the whole meeting was everyone talking about their school concerns.  For us, sending our special needs children to school feels like throwing them out of an airplane without a parachute.  And I'm not complaining about special service teachers here...remember, apart from this year, I am one.  It's just that our kids need a lot of support, and it's not just how they learn, it's also how they cope with the obstacle course of transitions and sensory input of a school environment, I think for  a lot of us, it's their anxiety.  Autism is an anxiety disorder, and our kids are happiest when they feel secure.
They feel secure at home.  I'm not suggesting our kids never leave the house, I work really hard at good socialization, and go, go, go a lot.  But we have a home base, this is where we leave from and go back to.  this is the sacred safe place.  Is that so wrong?
Homeschooling is a valid, valuable option.  It puts the focus on families, and it allows for truly individualized teaching.  When done within a community it provides ample opportunities for socialization and friendships.  I love it.  I love doing it.  I feel so good about being able to put my own experiences and knowledge to work for my own child.  And something that I've heard several times now from parents who have switched to homeschooling, is that it takes the stress out of the children, and out of the entire family.  Because when school isn't working out well for your child, it's not working out for anyone.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2 Years Later...

Yesterday was a special day at our marked the 2nd anniversary of Aiden's diagnosis.  We make an effort to celebrate the day, we tell Aiden that it is special, because it marks the day that we found out he had autism.  Of course, he thinks autism is the best thing in the world, because he knows it is one of the things that makes him special.

He was excited to get to pick some activities...his requests were pretty simple, he wanted to build  a model, go swimming, and go to a restuarant for supper.  Perfect, all things that were totally doable for us.  I thought for sure he would choose Swiss Chalet, his absolute favourite place to eat, (pronounced Swiss Charlet)  but he surprised us by choosing McDonald's.  It was just as well, Fridays being so busy, we would have had to go to a real restaurant at a strange hour to avoid crowds.

In some ways, it seems like so much longer ago that Aiden got diagnosed.  I cannot even imagine now, not knowing.  I felt so responsible for so much, in many ways it was a relief to realize that it wasn't all my fault, that I wasn't doing everything wrong.  We were the parents who sought a diagnosis..who had a pretty good idea going in that he would land on the spectrum, so his diagnosis didn't come as a surprise, more of a confirmation.   
I've certainly learned a lot in 2 years..attended conferences, real a gazillion books, some better than others, I've met some great families, and many beautiful children with autism.  My life has taken on a whole other focus as well, issues related to special needs are often at the forefront of my thoughts, I see the world and the community in terms of accessibility, and acceptance.  To borrow a line I read from a book..."all of my whens turned to ifs."  That just about sums it up.  I no longer look torward the future with a certainty of what it will entail..I have no idea.  Only time, accompanied with a lot of hard work will tell.

But I will tell you this..sitting down at McDonald's last night, with my wonderful little family, I almost took it for granted that we could sit peacefully and enjoy a "meal" together.  This time last year it would have been harder to manage behaviour wise...2 years ago...I just wouldn't have maybe some of that hard work is starting to pay off.

For 2 years now we have been calling autism by its name at my house.  It no longer catches on my's as much a part of my family as Aiden is.  So, we are to celebrate the anniversary of its grand entrance.  Autism, you are difficult to deal with, you make life unpredictable and scary at times, but, you are a big part of someone I love, so you are welcome here.              

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

There's just something about a fresh start that makes you feel all good inside.  Hopeful even.  For me, it's a bit of a motivator, a chance to do some planning, and let go of some baggage.  Tabula Rosa.  A new year...a new decade even.
I'm enjoying a quiet Christmas this year (yes, STILL enjoying's not over until the 6th in my heart).  Leading up to Christmas I was feeling pretty down, it was just very stressful to try to figure out how we would survive the holidays.  The family get togethers, the crowds, the expectations...  Hubby and I came to the conclusion that we do deserve to actually enjoy the holiday, so we forewent the big family dinner, and cooked up own bird here at home, just the four of us.  I did miss being with everyone, but I didn't miss the stress of it all, and definately feel like we made the right decision.  We were relaxed and happy together...what more could I ask for?  Holidays are hard, because they're a break from the norm, the routine, the it is stressful for Aiden, which can make it stressful for us all.  So thank you to all family members who let us off the hook this year...I know we were welcome, and I appreciate that most of all.
I don't know what 2010 has in store for us.  I'm pretty sure it will include another year of homeschooling, because that is working out so well, I'm not willing to give it up.  Maybe Aiden will begin self-regulating a little better this year...maybe group lessons will go a little smoother, or maybe I'll learn to take it a little better on the chin when they don't. 
Little miss Margaret will be 2 next month, so I'm curious as to what will hapen to the family dynamic as she starts to become a more autonomous member...
So here's to 2010....please be kind to us.  We are currently operating at maximum capacity, and I hope that any surprises will be plesant ones.
And to all my readers....much happiness to you and yours, with blessings the whole year through.