Thursday, March 06, 2008

Activities, Broadsheets, and Diagnosis

On Friday we had the first meeting in the hall that two of our group had organised, in the Bromley area. It was perfect: space to play indoors and out, places to sit and do crafts, a place to sit and chill - suitable for a wide age range and interest.

I took along the soft play, indoor sports equipment we've gathered from Sainsburys and Tescos vouchers in the past year or two, and that was ideal.

Someone set up some craft/painting, which many of the younger kids got involved in.

The big thing, for me anyway, was the attendance of a journalist from one of the broadsheets - yes, finally, home ed has made it to the "serious" papers! They are going to do an indepth feature and the guy is shadowing our group for a while.

He spoke with lots of families, and began to see for himself just how diverse HE is. Amongst the families there were people who have home educated from the start, to those quite new to it. Kids who have never been to school, and kids who did school. Kids with SEN. Kids who were bullied. Families with religious convictions. Families who don't believe the state *should* be involved in the education of our children. Families with one, two, or many children.

The usual bag of home educating flavours in other words!

As he is doing this properly, and offering complete anonymity, even the kids were happy to talk with him - and I think he was bowled over by some of them! It was so cool to listen in to them chatting away to him.

On Monday some of us went again to Godstone Farm Park - and again, the journalist came. By now he was commenting on how mature, how friendly, how self assured our children all were. He noted also how friendly the parents were, how welcoming. He was surprised that, considering some of us as individual adults hold *almost* opposing views on some subjects (religion and politics being just 2!), we get on really well, and so do our kids!

It sounds daft, I know, but I felt so darn proud of home educators! We really are quite an amazing bunch - all the more amazing because we are ordinary (if you see what I mean).

Tuesday was our indoor play area day. We had two new families come along, plus a two families who hadn't been along in ages - including the youngest addition to the group, now 3 months old! It was, therefore, a really good time, with lots of chat - both trivial and serious - and lots of kids running around making friends.

Our family have all been struggling big time with this nasty head cold. Mum's ended up with bronchitus, and Josh is especially having problems because of his asthma. Poor old Jonathan is waking every morning with eyes glued shut, and nose crusted over :0(

He is 9 months old today, can you believe it?! And to celebrate, he has cut his FIFTH tooth, and number six is probably only a day or so away!

His eating has obviously gone down whilst he's been ill, but tonight he ate half a beef burger, 2 chips (home made, I hasten to add!), then a bit later ate a slice of pear, and a bit later still 1 tablespoon of humous from the end of his maize sticks. An ecclectic eater like his mum then!

During the afternoon we went down to meet with some other teens in the group, who have taken to hanging out together on a regular basis. We didn't stay for long, as we were late due to taking Josh to the doctors first, just to check that his chest wasn't infected (it isn't).

The other big thing was that yesterday we had the "result" of Samuel's diagnosis process.

18 months after we started, yes he is confirmed as being on the spectrum, with Aspergers.

He is presenting subtly in the areas of social communication, and imaginative play.

Home ed rocks! I said to the two doctors, that is what two and a half years of "just playing" and learning life skills has done.

I am so, so proud of him, and so extremely glad we took him out when we did. What with the work we've done with him on language, and with his Dad teaching him all the top tips for how to talk to people, engage them, etc, as a "saleman", and with the playing he does every day with his two brothers, my son is able to take part in the world to a degree that, had he stayed in school, he could not have done. In fact, he would have continued to "fall behind".

I got stroppy at the end of the meeting because one of the doctors said "now, of course you know that for people with Aspergers, it is ESSENTIAL for them to achieve academically". Basically, she said that they needed to know what they were good at (agreed) and she said that should mean academic work (disagree!). She said that whilst she "heard" what I meant about my priority having not been about "school" work, that obviously wasn't going to be the best for him.


It totally contradicated everything they had just noted about his progress. Again and again I could show how home ed had provided him with all these skills he needed... at his first assessment he'd been distressed, unable to answer, unable to maintain eye contact. Yet a few weeks ago, he took part in another one, relaxed, eye contact much of the time, and "such a confident, kind young person"

That was another thing - him being "kind" and caring for others was non-typical of being an Aspie... yeah I know why they say that but I don't exactly agree!

Anyway, I put her straight and said that whilst we were continuing to work on his maths, and were going to relearn how to read (as I now understanding why he has huge gaps in his reading ability, as I realise how he WOULD have learned, had we known about the aspergers before, and why the way the school taught him didn't work), I wasn't going to make him learn irrelevant subjects he wasn't interested in, just for the sake of it.

I left shortly after that!

1 comment:

Fiona said...

home ed broadsheet piece sounds v promising. silly people at the Aspergers meeting.