In choosing a theme for this weeks carnival, I had originally planned on doing something with fall or apples or Johnny Appleseed. But after keeping my grandchildren for the weekend, I decided to go with the theme of Autism. This could be a very long post.
Some say there is an epidemic of Autism, some say there isn't. I definitely lean toward the epidemic side. Statistics show that 1 in 150 children are on the autistic spectrum, when a mere 20 years ago, it was 1 in 10,000. That is a gigantic jump in a short amount of time. There are lots of statistics out there, different philosophies on the cause of Autism and a flurry of treatment methods. I'm not going to spend time getting into the stats, maybe some of these high school students can give it a try:
Much like homeschooling, having an autistic child is a whole new world. It becomes a way of life. The entire family is affected and the family generally takes on a whole new dynamic.
My grandson, Nathan, was recently diagnosed with Autism. Of course, we weren't surprised as we've observed him slipping away into what seemed like a non-reachable state. In our research, we realized that he met all three main areas of Autism. My husband really struggled with accepting the diagnosis. Some of Julee's friends had a hard time taking it seriously at first. Now she is getting the support from everyone that she needs.
In Listening to the Heart, Celeste of the Life Without School Community Blog talks about her struggles with her reluctant husband and how listening to his concerns, being patient and dealing with them individually finally won him over.
In all the years of having the issue of socialization coming up in the context of homeschooling and knowing how preposterous it was, seeing the social issues in autistic children is intriguing to me.
Nathan avoided eye contact even as an infant. If strangers were around, he could be found standing and staring at a wall. A smile or "hi" from someone in public would send him to the ground, either crying or just lying there with a blank look.
In Unsocialized or Socialized, Jocelyn of Lothlorien wonders why homeschoolers are often taken to be unsocialized. Well... after a trip to the grocery store and a run-in with a very unsocialized teenager, it made her wonder... Do people really know what they're talking about?
Rebecca of Today in Faerie School talks about Finding your own virtual Waldorf Community. Many people are drawn to Waldorf education because it fosters a strong sense of community - community festivals and celebrations play a big part in this. But what about the Waldorf-inspired homeschooler? How does she find community?
Behavior and Sensory Issues:
Nathan lines things up and makes patterns. He goes through periods where his feet can't touch the ground. A hot oven doesn't seem to faze him, he's actually drawn to it. We have to watch that closely. He has issues with swinging and going down the slide. These are all things that we work on with him.
DeputyHeadmistress presents Out of Doors Play posted at The Common Room. "Children who aren't handling wood and clay, sand and water, bricks and acorns, leaves and grass, and other such stuff because they are too busy inside in a sterilized, sanitized environment lit by artificial lights and enhanced by artificially created noises, the beeps, sings, and whistles of computers and cartoons- these kids are not figuring out what to do with the things they learn." I am very interested in spending more time with this post.
At the age of two, Nathan virtually had no words. A few came here and there, but they were soon to disappear. He spoke to us by taking our hands and taking us to what he wanted. Or standing in front of us, staring at us until we figured it out. This was obviously the most apparent of his symptoms. I learned that if we didn't "teach" him to talk, he may never talk. That's a scary thought. But after homeschooling for so many years, we're already in the mindset that we have the responsibility of teaching our children and equipping them to be responsible and contributing citizens.
Nathan has a vocabulary now of about 25 words. It is nice to hear his voice after being silent so long. His talking tends to sound like that of a deaf person. I'm not too sure at how his brain is working and what he actually "hears." He learned the letter sounds in a week. He now sounds out any words he sees. He hasn't started blending yet, but I'm sure that will come shortly. I think he will be reading words before actually speaking them. Strange.
What Do You Mean She's Not Reading Yet? She's 9! Jacque at Seeking Rest in the Ancient Paths discusses how she found out a few years ago that reading comes at different times for each child. "It is much more enjoyable to teach and to learn, if I just let it happen and encourage it, rather than make them do it because of the pressure to fit into the mold."
In addition to these three areas, their little bodies have many other things going on. Many autistic children have stomach issues, sensory issues, allergies, and much more. It's helpful to keep records of what your child goes through, the progress and the regressions as well. Discovering Nathan is one tool that Julee is using to document their journey and keep the family and friends informed of what's going on at the same time.
In Homeschool Record Keeping, Patti of All Info About Homeschooling looks at several ways to match your need for accurate documents with your level of organization and your family's balance of chaos.
Of course, another important step is to learn everything you possibly can to help understand your child more. Reading books, joining support groups, attending seminars and conferences. I attended an Autism Conference with my daughter. It has helped me to be more informed of what's going on and more understanding when it comes to changes in diet and such. I've become quite a good GFCF cook.
Alvaro Fernandez presents Neuroplasticity 101 and Brain Health Glossary posted at SharpBrains. This is an overview of key findings, concepts and terms, to better understand all the recent news about brain health.
Timothy Power presents My Very First Homeschooling Seminar! posted at Sometimes I'm Actually Coherent. "We attended a seminar with Susan Wise Bauer. Among other things, we came away with a heightened sense of how important it is to take care of ourselves physically and intellectually if we are to be effective homeschooling parents."
Silvia presents Live and Learn Unschooling Conference Recap and Radical Unschooling posted at Po Moyemu--In My Opinion.
In the short time that I've been exposed to the Autistic community, I've noticed that everyone wants to get a chunk of your income, just like in the homeschooling world. Once the market is there, people want a piece of it. There are many different philosophies out there and everyone thinks theirs is the right way. Do your research, make your investments wisely and if things don't work out, chuck it, learn from it and move on. When Autism hits a homeschooling family that already is living on one income, one has to re-examine their life's choices and confirm they're on the path they want to be on. Personally, I'll do everything I can to help my daughter and her family continue to homeschool and also provide the needed services for Nathan.
When I think of adding an Austistic child and all that that entails to my homeschooling years, it's just mind boggling to me. All these extra things to worry about and orchestrate and the change in the functions of the family are very taxing on the parents. The energy required is astounding. Support from family and friends is crucial. If you have a family member or friend that is dealing with this, offer to help. Be creative. Many of Julee's blog posts make me cry, like Get this world off my shoulders!
Elena LaVictoire presents Taking care of the homeschooling Mom! Body and Spirit posted at My Domestic Church. She talks about how she hopes to take care of her basic needs while schooling a larger family.
Dana presents Revealing the secrets of homeschooling, how I get it all done posted at Principled Discovery. Dana presents 5 Principles, the first of which is my favorite: Delegate!
When the homeschooling household is invaded by ABA therapists, speech therapists and new diets, many things change. Julee set up a "therapy room" for Nathan in the garage. This has given the therapist a place to work with Nathan without distractions, as well as provide a more distraction free homeschooling environment for the older kids.
In Let's start at the Very Begining- our Afterschooling Plan, The Not Quite Crunchy Parent describes the curriculum she'll use to after school.
Dude, Where's My (Homeschooling) Stuff? Barbara Frank talks about moving to a new house after living and homeschooling in their old house for nearly 20 years; Mom finds she misses her organized life more than anything else.
Annette Berlin presents Don't Neglect Art posted at Homeschooling Journey saying, "Most homeschooling parents consider art a “back burner” kind of subject. They get to it only when there’s nothing more important to do. And even then, they do just enough to satisfy their state’s regulations. Not me. I always made art an integral part of our homeschool curriculum. Yes, we always had the typical homeschool time crunch, but I still found plenty of ways to find time for art."
When little brains need a rest from lessons, how can we still use their time constructively? Jacci at The Educational Life shares how her six year old daughter has used some of her rest time in "Afternoon Handicrafts".
Seafarer presents It?s Home Educator Week in Colonial Williamsburg posted at Family Travel. "As a traveler, I'm a big Colonial Williamsburg fan; but as a Mom, I'm pleased to find that they're so involved with teaching and education."
Jennifer in OR presents Bonhoeffer and Gatto on Education posted at Diary of 1. She shares, "Since I just spent a great deal of time reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I’ll submit something interesting I came across in Eberhard Bethge’s Biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From p. 17, where he briefly discusses the fact that Dietrich’s mother, Paula Bonhoeffer, homeschooled all eight children for their early schooling."Over at Life Nurturing Education, Renae discusses the hope and faith required to teach her children in Freedom's Future
Imagine that, both homeschooled students and Autistic students can make it to college.
In Paul Graham on the value of an elite college, Henry of Why Homeschool writes about how getting into an elite college may be of little benefit in the long run. As homeschoolers many of us recognize that the success our children will have in life depends more on their character.
Because I am around Nathan a lot, we have an understanding of each other and I will keep him overnight in a heartbeat. I can tell when he's over stimulated or having trouble. He has a way of turning his eyes off. It's kind of bizarre, but only those who really know him will notice. When I go away, he's the one I miss the most.
I am aware that there are a lot of special kids in the world and that Autism isn't the only problem out there, but this is the one invading my world. If you don't have an autistic child or personally know someone who does, chances are you soon will. I hope you have a little better understanding of what these kids and families go through. Reach out to someone today.
Learn more about Autism from Lisa Jo Rudy, About.com's Guide to Autism. In her post, What's Your Opinion: Public or Private School for Kids with Autism?, Lisa Jo reveals her decision to homeschool her 11-year-old son with autism. I'm eager to hear more about her journey as the year progresses.
Well, that concludes this issue of the Carnival of Homeschooling. I hope you enjoy it.
If you enjoyed this week's Carnival of Homeschooling, spread the word!Next week, the carnival will be held at The Voice of Experience. Join the fun, submit your post.