I have been asked by a FaceBook friend about Home Educating.
She has a little boy, and she is exploring the possibility.....it doesn't work for everyone...it depends on your lifestyle, but it works for us. I wasn't aware of how far we have come until my FB chat, but I really do see a marked difference in my little Daisy.
So, for posterity, this is how far we have come......
OK.....on Feb 13th 2009 I removed Daisy from mainstream education.
1) She was shown how to use the security doors by the Head Teacher. This gave Daisy access to the *outside world* and the very busy main road outside the school.
2) She was being *forced* to write/use a pencil.
3) She was, again, being *forced* to join in with team games, predominantly football/soccer, which as we all know is a team game.
4) Her Autistic needs were being over-ridden and, worse, ignored.
5) Her behaviour and health were deteriorating. Fast.
There are many other *lesser* reasons, but isn't the 5 listed above 5 too many? As Daisy's mum I am clearly biased, but to me as the parent of an Autistic/PDA child any one of the above reasons is good enough.
Apart from number 1, I repeatedly tried to get the school SENCO to help us. I was repeatedly hitting my head against a brick wall. I had meetings with her, but nothing happened, I threatened to remove Daisy at the beginning of Year 2 but to no avail, I emailed her with a list of concerns as she was impossible to talk to in person and got a note back from her, which basically blamed Daisy for their ineptitude.
So, my responses to the *big 5*?
1) I witnessed both the Head Teacher showing Daisy how to use the door and her subsequent escape. I removed Daisy from school immediately. There was NO going back knowing she was unsafe. Bad enough that she was regularly sent from her classroom to wander the school, but the knowledge she was able to leave the premises unnoticed was way too much.
2) Her reaction to any writing implement was heart-breaking. For a little girl who used to love to draw (especially rainbows!) she flatly refused to even colour in a picture from her colouring-in book. We had spent hours together colouring-in with her pencils and crayons and I have a huge collection of her masterpieces. For six months she refused to even go near her pencils and got very anxious when I even suggested we try it.
3) Autistic/PDA Daisy cannot participate in team games. Daisy has an over-riding need to predict what is going to happen next. Not just the next instant but the next and the next and the next. She is also a control freak. To the nth degree. This does not mix well with team games. Especially football when there are so many other players on the pitch. She gets eaten up with anxiety with just 1 person....two whole teams? She cannot deal with that at all. I was told by (again) the Head Teacher that she *must* join in. I suggested that they give her a bat, a ball and a wall and she'd be fine. They said "no". So, she was anxious and disruptive and they wondered why....
4) It is well documented that: Daisy needs her own space. A lot of space. Daisy has sensory issues like a lot of Autistic children, she dislikes noise. So forcing her to sit in a loud, busy and crowded lunch-hall with 249 other children is not conducive to a calm happy Daisy. Daisy was being punished for bad behaviour, to this day I don't know what it was, but she was told on a Monday that she would be punished on the following Friday! I defy ANY 7 year old to understand that, but an Autsitic/PDA 7 year old doesn't have a hope in Hell of getting that!
5) She wasn't eating properly, sleeping at all well, she was violent and abusive at home for very nearly all of the time and really didn't want to go to school and was desperate for me to stay with her. Leaving my sobbing pleading Daisy in a place I didn't feel she was completely safe in, was heart-breaking for me, and I wish I had removed her earlier.
So....1 year and 9 months on?
Well, life is different.
Yes, we still have melt-downs...she is Autistic, after all! They have been touched upon in earlier blogs, but not every day. She isn't so frustrated and anxious by everything around her. There are no expectations of her anymore. She isn't *forced* to write or do things that I know will make her anxious. She is happier and muxh more relaxed with life. She draws amazing pictures and loves designing dresses and fantastical vehicles, her imagination is boundless and inspiring. Her writing is never going to be fantastic and her spelling is phonetic and highly logical, but so what? She can write and spell and she wouldn't do that at school. Her ability to read is astonishing. When she left school everything she *read* was pure parrot fashion, now she can read almost anything she sees and gets so delighted when she conquers a new word. Sitting down and reading a book is something she can do, but as a highly mobile person, I don't know if she ever will! She is, and always has been, perpetual motion!
So, my angry, anxious frustrated little girl is now a happier person and the daunting task of providing her with an education is rewarding and so gratifying.
Like I said...it isn't easy and I make mistakes on a daily basis (or at least that's how it feels) but I don't regret it. Not for one second.
If we can get this far in 1 year and 9 months....just think of what we can do in another 12 months. I can't wait to find out!