I made the correct decision

I just saw this memory (below) on my Facebook page, and it was so amazing to realize that 2 years ago I walked into the MOE and asked for an Exemption Application so that I could home educate Sophia.

I was so determined that I could do it, regardless of my doubts and fears, and here we are two years later, and I know I made the correct decision on that day.

Seeing the growth in Sophia and the changes in such a short time has been amazing. Not only in her, but myself as well and our family as a whole.

At the time I made the decision to file for exemption, Sophia was self-harming, had panic attacks, had insomnia due to the fear of the following school day, had a bunch of tics, said through tears that she hated herself, cried and begged not to go to school and was physically ill from stress and anxiety. Not to mention a lot of bruises on her which she had gotten in school.

Now, she is relaxed and confident, sleeps 10-12 hours every night, is rarely ill, has very few tics left (and only when in a stressful environment), she eats well and has truly discovered and likes her Self.

By her Self; I mean she has her own views and likes, she has discovered her love of art, she has found her love of video editing, she has found music enjoyable -including creating it, she knows which books she likes, she loves baking and cooking, She loves science experiments, she loves learning about other cultures and their history, and she is always trying to learn new ways of creating. She has taught herself several complicated computer software programs as well as computer programming. All this, is in addition to her regular studies and Cognitive and behavioral therapy we do at home.

It is so nice to see her redevelop that deep curiosity and love of learning that she had before starting school. She is constantly asking questions about a variety of topics which we then study until she is satisfied that she knows enough about it. She is also sharing the knowledge she has gained. She is willing to give anything a fair go as long as it is approached in the right way at the right time.

Our home is part library, part music studio, part museum, part artist studio and part cinema, but it will never be a classroom as such and learning happens all through the house, as well as in the world. Learning it is a lifelong venture, and we model that to her as well because we are natural seekers of knowledge and experience and it is no surprise that our kids would take after us in this way.

Max on the other hand, loves school and this is great. We allow him to choose how he wants to learn, but we also encourage his other passions. He has joined the cadets, Air Training Corps, and yesterday our sweet son was flying above the earth in a glider and had the best day learning something new and amazing. He hopes to be a pilot for the Air Force when he gets older, and that is awesome.

Sophia thrives at home, Max thrives at school, and I guess that is the key, finding here they excel and supporting them in any way we can. Letting go and allowing them to make choices for their future can be hard, as with Devin moving out, but as parents we hope all that we have taught them over the years is instilled enough courage, intuition and good sense for them to make good decisions and be the best version of themselves they can be. We are proud of all of them.

 Parenting is not easy, and some days you feel like you are not up to the task, but in the end, if you are doing the best you can for your children and truly allowing them to thrive, then you are doing a great job. Today I feel proud of us as parents, we are doing well.


MEMORY: March 20, 2015 at 8:57am

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Lydia, this picture is just like we were saying the other day. I went straight over and got my application from MOE just after our visit. Just another reason why we love you, thanks for helping me retain my clarity.

Sensory Overload

This post Sometimes it is best to say nothing at all! by Bill Nason is excellent and so true. To read it, just click on the pink title. Below is my reaction to it, how it is useful to us and a bit more about my own sensory issues throughout my life.

For both myself and Sophia, voices become like fingernails on a chalkboard when the sensory system is overloaded. Sophia and I both have this sensitivity and sometimes we just need space and some quiet time.

I have built up coping mechanisms over the years, but she is just learning, so it is good that I understand exactly what she is experiencing and can help her build these mechanisms up slowly.

Even if in the middle of a lesson, when one of us has had enough, we simply take a break and come back after we feel better and then it is smooth sailing. Often we will take a bike ride together without speaking, or draw or read for a bit and then we are fine.

Pressing on when in this state does nothing but lead to a full shutdown or meltdown. This is one of the things I love about home educating, is allowing her to feel and know her own limitations and learn to self-regulate before it gets past the point that she can.

I went through life not knowing what was happening to my mind and my body, and I don’t want Sophia to have to be afraid of, and distrust her body and mind, like I did for far too many years.

Now as an adult in my late forties, if I do too much and ignore my signals, I shut down and my body literally makes me unable to move and I usually must sleep at least two hours to recharge.

This has changed over my lifetime; when I was younger my mind would go blank and I would stare off into space and rock, or I would lash out in anger. I had no idea where the anger came from but I felt it start in my stomach and flow out all around me.

When I hit puberty, I would just pass out. Everything would start to get dark and my hearing would go and I would just drop on the ground. I was really scary, especially if I was not fast enough to sit down before drifting out. I passed out a lot as a teenager, and I know now it was because of all of the activity going on around me. Especially at school or places where there was multiple sensory over-stimulation.

The grocery store or shopping when it is busy has been the worst throughout my life especially in my late teens and twenties. I would have to sit down right where I was to avoid passing out and hitting my head on the ground.

Having someone yelling at you, or expressing their displeasure with your actions is not helpful, in fact it makes it worse especially when they just leave you sit there because they are embarrassed.

So you find yourself not in control of your body, scared, vulnerable and alone. Then strangers either try and help, by talking to you and asking if you are alright, or touching you, while you can’t respond; only pull away or push them back. Or others ridicule you, make snide remarks or assumptions about drugs or alcohol or say mean things about you because they are ignorant.

I am better know, but some days it hits me. Usually, I can tell when I am getting overwhelmed, because I start to get angry before my mind goes blank. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who does all the grocery shopping. But more than that, he also understands me, so when we do go together, he knows the signs and helps me out by gently taking my hand and leading me through, or getting me a cart to hold on to when my knees start to buckle.

The other shoppers may see my knuckles turning white from gripping so hard, or they may wonder why I am leaning over the cart; it is to keep myself from falling.

Often people who know me, will try to talk to me in the store when I am in this state, and I feel bad because I have to keep it short or I am not really there, sometimes I don’t even remember speaking with them. Often I don’t even recognise them in that moment, until a coupe days after; when my brain is clear.

In my twenties and thirties, when overwhelmed I would get uncontrollable tremors and I would be in a fog and I would feel far away and couldn’t respond, or just close enough to respond in one word sentences. I spent many breaks in the bathrooms at my jobs over the years trying to regulate myself before this point and sometimes I would fail and have to sit there for a while until the tremors stopped and my mind became clear, and I was functioning enough to leave or get picked up.

When you are in a work environment, hypersensitive senses are simply impossible to ignore for too long.

The people smell; the overwhelming smells of colognes and perfumes, body odours, deodorants and shampoos, lotions and make-up, shoe polish, what they cooked for breakfast and their breath are just a few that overpower me.

The environment smells; the smell of the papers and tapes, glues and copy toner, air fresheners, a variety of foods (some quite pungent), cigarettes and cigars, the fresh cut grass and flowers on people’s desks or outside the door, chemicals used in cleaning, etc. all affect me.

The constant noise; of office machines (copy machines, 10-key and keyboards typing, computers humming, scanners, etc.), paper crumpling, people writing (yes I hear the pen go across the page), the constant buzz of the lighting, the air conditioner blowing or heater humming, phones ringing, and not to mention office chatter and gossip, make it so hard to maintain an equilibrium within that type of environment.

I even hear what is outside, birds chirping, trees rustling, the wind howling, trucks and motorcycles on the freeway, lawnmowers and leaf blowers in the spring and summer, and wood chippers and chainsaws in fall and winter, bugs buzzing, airplanes, helicopters and jets, etc.

It is especially difficult when in a position where many personnel speak with you (often before you have quite focused on them and they have your full attention) and they get way too close and are just so loud.

Empathic and psychic sensitivities are also a huge issue. I can feel other people’s emotions, I know who had a fight with their spouse (and usually what/ or who it was about.) I feel their despair, hopelessness, feelings of being trapped, the need to leave the situation, how hard it is for them to hold it together everyday and their sadness.

I know who will be divorced or separated by the end of the year. I know whose partners are cheating, whose kids are thieves, liars or drug addicts and who has addictions or is abused. I know who has issues with control, with manipulation, who is passive aggressive, or has low self-esteem, who was molested or beaten as a child, and on more than one occasion who was close to death.

I also feel people’s physical ailments and pain; broken limbs, backaches, headaches, earaches, toothaches, stomach ulcers or constipation, period cramps or women’s issues, bad lungs and heart issues, etc. I feel them all in my body.

I feel all of this with my non-physical senses, on top of trying to maintain my physical senses. Up until a couple years ago, I had no idea why, and it was much more difficult trying to discern what was me or mine and what was not. At that point I was unaware that others did not have these sensitivities.

That is why I ended up on medication, in order to fit in to the 9-5 work life and be like everyone else. However, the tremors did not stop (only lessened) and my mind was still numb -but now all my emotions and all of my senses were dead as well; the good along with the bad. I had to slowly learn how to regulate my senses in order to be off of medication as I loved helping people and I was no longer available to do that while being numb.

This is just a small glimpse into how sensory issues have affected my life and maybe it can help you see how it affects you, or someone you love. I am glad to be able to use my experience to not only help my child, but hopefully other parents who may benefit by us sharing our journey.

If you want to know more about ASD and sensory issues, I encourage you to check out more of Bill’s posts or purchase his books, as they are very helpful and insightful.

As for us, we are learning every day and we all just do the best we can. Some days are harder and some are easy, but they are all necessary for growth.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have and thank you for taking the time to read our blog.

First Day of Year 6

Today we started Year 6 at Lawless Academy. Yay!!

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It started out a bit rough, just getting back into routine, but we got through it.

Sophia has a hard time writing with a pencil so she had a bit of a hard time doing her book work, but she did finish it.

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We may need to move her up to the next grade book as she is getting bored with the problems and whizzes through them verbally, but won’t write the answers in them. This is frustrating to us both because she knows the work, but we need written records.

Although, if I do the pages verbally and the tests written, that could be enough to prove she has learned the material. (Hmmm, I may qualify as her Reader-Writer because I am her teacher. I will ask Cynthia about my options.) Alternatively, I can edit the books we have, or create our own based off of them but make them all about Pokemon or her other special interests.

I may give these ideas a go and allow her to move ahead in her work to the grade/age level she is more comfortable with, so that it keeps her attention. I will discuss it with her; I am sure she will love these ideas.

I usually show her all of her workbook work at the beginning of the year and she knows when she finishes it, she is done for the year. She usually does the whole year’s work in the first two terms, due to a combination of wanting to be done with it and her ability to pick things up so quickly that she can figure most of it out on her own without needing instruction or assistance.

I will buy (and edit or use as a template) the next couple of years up in workbooks, and she can just keep going if she wants to see how far she can go, but I will only have them here if she wants to do them, but not make her do them.

She still loves doing digital art and video editing, although that has slowed a bit compared to the past two years. She is moving in different directions with her creativity, she really loves cooking, projects, painting and crafting at the moment so we will be doing more of that this year.

We will also be doing more gardening and science experiments, especially with growing things as she absolutely loves observing the process, and it gets us outdoors more and helps feed the family.

She also received some amazing books from her Aunties in the states, on Big Cats so I imagine she will be doing something with those as she loves writing about Big Cats… well any cats really.

Also she has a new emotes journals for critical thinking and exploring who she is and what she likes. Getting to know herself as her own person is awesome. She wants to start on them, this will be up to her, but it is a great tool for decoding who she really is becoming as a young woman. (Plus it helps her practice her writing. 😉 )

One activity I absolutely love, is that since daddy taught her to ride her bike, she rides everyday and it has a great calming effect when she starts to get stressed.

This is a great tool for calming her body, as she is self inspired to use it and knows she can at any time, and usually she gets straight into her work afterwards. We usually ride our bikes together as I love it too and it is great exercise as well as makes us have fun playing together.

We also will be doing Tae Bo (an exercise programme) this year as she finds kicking and punching the air good to calm, she never aims it anyone, but it had me thinking how much I loved Tae Bo as it helped me regulate my body and my emotions.

  • Total commitment to whatever you do
  • Awareness of yourself and the world
  • Excellence, the truest goal in anything you do
  • (the) Body as a force for total change
  • Obedience to your will and your true desire for change

We have already started learning about puberty and the body and we will continue to do more of this as well. I got some special information about puberty and Asperger’s sent to us from All Together Autism, and it is great material.

Sophia also plays Age of Empires (version three is her favourite) with her brother and dad and absolutely loves it. This is a huge teaching tool for history, and social studies (as well as commerce, building villages, battles, producing food, building armies, hunting, etc.) and it peaks her interests and she asks about historical figures in the game which we then research.

Soph would also like to visit Japan this term with her Passport Studies. She has some ideas of what she wants to learn and write about, and has asked to learn some of their language as well, so we will be getting some supplies from the library (and some friends).

Next term we will be re-visiting France in Passport Studies, as she wants to go more in depth into the language and culture. She has already been teaching herself french words by playing in the French server of Animal Jam. (Clever monkey.)

Mexico was the other place she wants to visit with Passport Studies, so that will be term 3; she also plays in the Spanish servers and loves to learn from Max when he comes home and tells her what he learned in Spanish.

We have not decided the destination for term 4, we will have to see what peaks her interest.

This may seem like  a lot, but for a kid whose mind is always going, anything less and she would get bored and grumpy.

Most of these areas can be tied into the Passport Studies so it is actually a nice smooth rounded way for her to learn. With learning the currency, science, historical figures, language and scriptures, and by doing some art, listening to or playing some music and sampling and cooking the foods, she gets a broader view of each country while lightly touching on all her subjects in a tangible and practical way.

We also can ‘extend our visas’ if she finds she wants to explore a country longer and push the others forward a term, or have short ‘stopovers’ if she wants to visit more. This is what is so awesome about Home educating; we can change our schedule to whatever works for her curiosity and learning.

I am really looking forward to this year and seeing what she can accomplish and how she develops. She has grown so much in so many ways the past couple of years.

She rarely has anxiety anymore and her meltdowns are less violent and pass more quickly as she is able to self regulate more easily now.

Her Tourette’s Syndrome / Tic Disorder has not yet been diagnosed, we wanted to wait to see if the tics stopped and they have not. It has been a few years now that she has had the tics.We may talk to her Autism Pediatrician this year and get the diagnosis if he feels it would help her in the future.

She still has some of the old tics and some new ones, but they are waxing and waning. Some are barely noticeable unless you know her and some are pretty obvious. If is she is tired or stressed they appear to increase or become more obvious. Max also has tics, as do I. This is another reason home educating is good for us as she will not get bullied for her tics like her brother has at school. (As did I.)

Here is a great video I found, on Tics to help get a better understanding of some of they ways that they present. The boy in this video gave a great description, and I feel the same way – it feels like a build up in your muscles and joints, and you have to make the movements or sounds for relief. It overrides and worry of social stigma for the moment.

Thank you for stopping by to read about our home education journey.

Feel free to leave any comments or questions and like our posts.

It will be a good year.

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Interview with Author Samantha Craft of EVERYDAY ASPERGERS

My interview with Author Samantha Craft of EVERYDAY ASPERGERS

By Maria Lawless of Awesome Aut[odidactic]ism Blog

 

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Good morning Samantha! Thank you so much for taking the time do this interview, we appreciate it very much.  You have so many interesting things to offer with your new book EVERYDAY ASPERGERS, your EVERYDAY ASPERGERS Blog and Community, as well as a wealth of information on Education and Advocacy with regard to Autism -especially in women and girls on your website MY SPECTRUM SUITE. Your personal experiences in Home Education are what I would like to focus on today.  As I mentioned previously, I have decide to ask about homeschooling as I know there are many mothers who are choosing homeschool our Autistic children, myself included and many who are themselves Autistic. So I will just go over a few questions, based upon the most common I have had from parents that are considering, or just starting out homeschooling.

Let’s get started.

We found our child was actually regressing -physically, emotionally, mentally and in coping skills, and being held back by the school system and that was what made me begin to research homeschool. What was the driving force behind your decision to home educate?

Thank you for setting aside time for this interview and thank you for your kind words. I can relate to what you are saying. I have three sons. I home schooled my middle son two different times, at the start of third grade until sixth grade, and again at the start of seventh grade. He is now 17 and entering junior college as part of his high school completion. As a former schoolteacher of pre-kindergarten, elementary, and middle school, I have some insight into the educational system that the traditional parent might not have. I have sat on both sides of an IEP (Individual Education Plan), as a teacher and as a parent. I was fortunate to be aware of my child’s rights and to have studied the disability laws, as well as No Child Left Behind Act, at that time.

When my son first started school, over 12 years ago, I advocated for my son and other children with special needs. This included meeting regularly with the assistant superintendent. I even founded a small support group for parents of special needs children. My son managed to do fairly well in traditional kindergarten, because he was in a structured environment, where he could move about freely and only attended half-day with the other students. By first grade he required a fulltime paid assistant. Much needed assistance that I fought hard for him to receive. I believe he was one of the first children with ASD to receive a full-time, one-to-one paid helper. He did well with his assistant in first and second grade. The assistant was brought on to give my son direction, modify his assignments, and protect him from self-harm. (He had attempted to climb trees, run off campus, stack chairs on desks and stand on them, prior to having an assistant.) I had to go to the school and document all of my son’s behaviors to get him the assistance he needed. The school district, at first, wanted to place him in a special education class with children with severe emotional challenges. I adamantly refused and cited laws to make our case.

He is lucky to have you as his mother and advocate.

One morning my daughter looked at me and begged through tears for me to homeschool her. I looked at the dark circles under her eyes (she had been up all night worrying about school the next day) and the scratches she had from clawing herself, and how she was cupping her hands up over her sore tummy, and I decided, no more school. I had been researching it for almost two years and I had already started filling out the forms, I just knew I had to pull her out that day. I took her to her Doctor, and upon seeing her stress levels and hearing our story, he gave me a 3 week medical certificate to keep her home while the exemption application was processed. It only took 9 days to be approved, I was elated. Was there one incident or one day that it clicked for you, and you decided, that is enough?

I am so glad that decision worked out for you. It sounds like you took a lot of time to plan and consider. For us, it was more sudden.

In one instance, in sixth grade, we placed him in an accelerated program at the traditional public middle school. Within a few months, he was extremely depressed, had suicidal thoughts, and hated school. The last straw was when a cluster of his peers waited for him to sit down at the lunch table, and then together, as a large group, stood up all at once, and left him alone, as they walked to another table, shunning him. No child should have to endure that. I homeschooled my son from that point onward, without pause. At that time, until now, he joined a local, homeschool charter school and attended part-time courses and we did the rest of the schoolwork at home. Now, in eleventh grade, he has joined a program where he can complete high school at a junior college. His anxiety is very low now and he functions at a very independent level. He is even going to take the transit city bus to school!

It sounds like he had a hard road, you must be so proud of his progress. I has planned on doing it sooner, but due to falling down my stairs and getting a concussion and then Post Concussive Syndrome that held me off. My brain was in a scramble for a year, so unfortunately the home education had to wait as I was not in any shape to guide her.

For us, it got to the point of no longer being and ‘if’ we home educate, but rather we ‘must’ do it now, to help our child thrive. We had several reasons, but mostly she was not getting the support she needed. What issues or problems were you facing within the school system?

In addition to not initially finding the support my son needed and having to literally save my son from harm’s way, the biggest problem was the student bullying and one of the teacher’s behaviors. My son did okay in first and second grade, producing standard work. At that age, having a full-time assistant was acceptable. The other children were still young and didn’t take particular note of my son’s helper. In third grade, with the change of a grade and teacher, he was no longer being serviced as needed and faced ridicule from his peers. The teacher assigned his one-to-one personal assistant to do general classroom work for her, such as instructing small groups of children and making photocopies of worksheets in the workroom. At that point, I was too tried to keep fighting for his needs at the public school. Plus, the children were older, and began bullying my son in the lunchroom. After a few meetings, and a few meltdowns at home, on my son’s part, as he could only hold it together for so long, I made the decision to homeschool. I’d felt I had done as much as I could, up to that point, to try to make the public school system work. Following the start of third grade, I homeschooled my son for three years, and then, when we moved out of state, I had him repeat grade five at the new, local school. I reasoned, it was a new group of children, my son was older, and repeating a grade would give him a heads up academically and socially. He did all right, as he attended school with his new friend, our neighbor, and the school was only a block away from our house. No modifications or assistance was needed.  However, there were a few instances where he struggled socially and where the teacher sent home letters of concern; by the end of the year he disliked going to school.

Well it sounds like you made the right decision. It is amazing how much we struggle to make the school system work for our kids. The sad part is, it is largely due to a lack of funding and thus training, and that is a shame.

Now, when I notified the principal, he said, “I think you are making a very bad decision. I also think she is more influenced by learned behaviour, and blaming Asperger’s for all of her issues is a very dangerous road to take.” All that did was give me more resolve to prove him wrong. Did you face any opposition from the school principal or his teachers regarding pulling your son/s out?

It’s hard when professionals force their strong (often bias) opinions on parents. It’s always better to consider all sides of a situation.

My son’s therapist was the one that suggested I not over-protect my son and said I should not pull him out of school and that he needed to “toughen up.” That was when he was being bullied in sixth grade (the lunchroom table incident). Fortunately, I knew a depressed child with ASD did not need to be exposed to social situations with hormonal teenagers to toughen up. No child should have to endure humiliation. I remembered some books I’d read in the past; I believe even a quote by Attwood, that stated the problem wasn’t my child but the other children. I would have done anything at that time to assist my child. Going against the wishes of a “professional” wasn’t difficult. I knew my son best and I had an educational background. I’d been through enough with the school district in the previous state we lived in already, that I wasn’t deterred by conflict of opinion.

Yes, that is what I felt as well. I just knew I was doing the right thing. His dissent only strengthened my resolve.

We are very blessed to have full support in our decision from friends and family and even from her Doctors. Did you get support from your friends and family in your decision to home educate?

I didn’t get support but I didn’t get the opposite either. I think my extended family trusted my expertise and choices. Plus, they knew my son and some of the challenges he faced.

I think we are blessed in that regard, many people face opposition from family, friends and professionals.

We found a hug improvement in the family when the stress of school was taken out of the picture. The whole house dynamic shifted to a more peaceful one, but most noticeably the children get along much better now. Do you think home educating made an improvement in your home and family life and the relationship between your sons?

That makes sense. Yes, homeschooling made a 99% difference. I’d say 100%, but like to leave a 1% margin of error. He changed overnight; literally, into an anxiety-free child. I’d say his anxiety decreased ten-fold. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my family. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. My son never had another meltdown again and absorbed the learning materials, for the most part, with eagerness. He didn’t like learning, per say, but he appreciated not having to go to an environment where he was ostracized and had to excerpt a great amount of energy in order to try to fit in. He also was tired of his teachers not truly getting him or misinterpreting his words or actions. My life changed from one of constant worry to complete freedom. I was fortunate to already be a homemaker. I think if we’d had to take a financial blow to homeschool that would have added other stresses. But still, the rewards would have out weighed the sacrifice.

That is so great, I could see the improvement in my daughter right away as well. The reduction in her anxiety was amazing.

For myself, I see how my daughter blossomed by being able to move at her own pace and do things she was passionate about, video editing, art and music. Did you find that your son/s found some of his passions through being homeschooled?

I think so. We had a more structured curriculum then it sounds like your family incorporated.  My son discovered what books interested him and what subject matter he preferred to spend more time doing. One year he was struggling in writing; so we took most of the year off writing and he read and read. After a year of focused reading and a year of maturing physically, writing came much more naturally to him. Now, I am comfortable saying he is a better writer than I am, and out-writes any college student I’ve ever come across. My son also enjoys history and philosophy, and subjects with higher-level thinking. We were able to focus on aspects of society, such as slavery, the Native Americans, the equal rights movement, which broadened his ability to understand the world and apply empathy.

I think part of Sophia’s issue with school is that she was bored. She started doing sign language at 6 months old, and went to school knowing her alphabet, colours, animals, how to write her name and several words, how to read and loved drawing and creating so she was always advanced in her work.

We do a mix of Eclectic, Unit Study and Unschooling, in that our daughter directs the learning based upon her learning interests, but I make sure to provide materials and activities which cover a scope of educational areas within that interest. We also have curriculum workbooks for the required work, which she gets out and does herself. What type of homeschooling did you do? Did you use a combination or just develop your own style? (Traditional, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, Unschooling (Interest led), Topic Study, Eclectic, etc.)

I actually made homeschooling my special interest, and ended up building a 100-page website about homeschooling in six weeks time! I traded in a bunch of books my dad owned and stocked up on used books. There was not much information online about homeschooling at the time and not many resources gathered in one place. Typically you had to search multiple places or order a book to get information. I wanted to provide a free service. My website served to help others for several years. I explored different homeschool methods, discussed learning styles, and provided curriculum ideas. I focused on a combination of traditional and classical. As a former teacher, it was easy for me to incorporate lesson designs and my son strived from having exact lessons, check off lists, and goals. At home, I taught different subjects using a variety of tools and resources. We also partook in daytrips, watched documentaries, and incorporated art.

Is that website still active? I would love to see it! We are so lucky to live in this digital age and have all the information literally at our fingertips. We also an extensive home library and we go to the library regularly. My husband and I love reading too so that helps.

I think choosing to home educate was definitely the best decision I have made. Seeing the improvement in my child’s health, confidence, and social and coping skills is the most rewarding aspect for me. What are a couple of areas that you saw major improvements in, with your son/s?

As I mentioned earlier, his anxiety lowered immensely. Other areas of improvement were writing and comprehension. He historically stored very high on state testing, and remained above many of his peers academically. I loved that he got a chance to expand on an assignment if he wished, or shorten another, depending. I’d say it was a very wise decision on my part. But I tend to make wise decisions in general. lol.

Very good, yes I agree watching them expand on their work is so refreshing. That aspect is such a bonus as they can fully immerse themselves in the topic to the extent they feel they need to, in order to understand it.

What advice would you give to Spectrum Mums, who are also on the spectrum who may be thinking about homeschooling?

Follow you heart. Get support. Seek out alternatives. There are charter schools, homeschool organizations, and many families with experience homeschooling. You can get an inner-district transfer; some parents even move cities or states to get the support they need. Don’t let obstacles deter you. You know what’s best for your child. Seek out information. I strongly believe where there is a will there is a way. If you choose the public school route, which was wonderful for my oldest son, then know the laws. Visit Wrights Laws on line. Check out books from the library. Find a free advocate. Write a letter to the school district asking for a professional evaluation of your child and get a formalized plan started. Don’t go to meetings alone. Document everything. Be your child’s advocate. It does get easier. And time does heal wounds.

That is excellent advice! I have sent a few family and friends in the USA to the Wrights Law website and facebook page for help.

What drove you to write your book EVERYDAY ASPERGERS?

That’s a huge question. In brief, I was called to write and felt I had to share my story. The book was a combination of stories from my life I wrote over ten years ago and from excerpts of my extensive blog by the same name.

I love your book. I enjoyed the way it was written, in small excerpts and blips of your life. It was so relatable to my own life. You definitely need a box of tissues nearby from both tears of sadness and of laughter. It is defintely a labour of love. Thank you for sharing your story.

Can you give us a brief overview of SPECTRUM SUITE?

I wanted to start a company that supported my book and gatherings and also gave a voice to autistic literature and art. It’s a small company that works toward celebrating neurodiversity through the arts and literature. I interview authors and artists and host free gatherings. I also provide interviews and guest speaking. You can find us at myspectrumsuite.com. I’d also like to mention the company that I work for, ULTRA Testing. We employ adults on the autism spectrum to work from home in the USA, as software testers. You can find us at ultratesting.us.

Your website is great. It really is an extensive resource. Yes, thank you I meant to mention them as well, what a great company.

Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions. It was so great getting to know more about you. Most of all, thank you for being the voice for so many of us who are still finding ours.

You are most welcome. This was an interesting change to what I normally discuss. I enjoyed the process. All the best to you.

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For more information on Samantha Craft and her wonderful book, website and Facebook community, please see below.

My Spectrum Suite Website

Everyday Aspergers Facebook page

Everyday Aspergers Blog

Sam’s New Blog Everyday Aspie

EVERYDAY ASPERGERS Softcover Book:

EVERYDAY ASPERGERS E-Book:

 

I will add these links to the Resources page as well.

Thank you for stopping by.

 

Animal Jam essay

Animal Jam is a safe online kids game made by WildWorks, in partnership with National Geographic. In Animal Jam, you can create your own animal in the online world of Jamaa. You can make online friends, play games to earn gems, come to parties, play adventures, and decorate your den and animal.

The friend list on Animal Jam is called the buddies list. So far, you can have up to 200 buddies. You can also buddy your friends and family who play Animal Jam. If you feel safer only buddying people you know, that is completely fine. If you want, you can click the settings button in the top right corner of the screen and turn off buddy requests, and you can unbuddy anyone at any time. If you don’t feel comfortable buddying someone, you can always decline their buddy request.

The journey book in Animal Jam is an educational scavenger hunt book. There is a page for every land in Jamaa. The way the journey book works is that there are shapes in the book that correspond with what you’re supposed to find. When you think you found one, click on it. If it’s correct, you’ll get a message in game that shows a real life picture of it and a couple facts about it. When you’ve got everything on one page, you’ll get a prize.

There are many adventures in Animal Jam that when you complete, you get a prize. In the adventures, there are secret hidden passages that have a treasure chest inside, and inside the treasure chest is usually gems. Sometimes, there are passages that can only be opened by being a certain animal. In some treasure chests there are cool clothing or den items. If you’re lucky, you could get a rare or a beta.

There are educational movies in the movie theaters that teach you about certain animals and facts about the world. New movies are in the movie theater almost every day. The facts in the movies are usually things you didn’t know about animals or the world. Did you know that there’s a lizard that squirts blood from its eyes as a defence mechanism? Eww!

There are fun games in Animal Jam that you can play to earn gems and cool achievements! My personal favourite games are Falling Phantoms and Jamaa Derby! In Falling Phantoms, you move your animal around with the left and right arrow keys to dodge the falling phantoms. In Jamaa Derby, you play as a horse and click to jump over obstacles. You also get 3 carrots, which, when you click one, you get a speed boost. Other games include Temple Of Trivia, Hedgehog, Best Dressed, and many more!

In Animal Jam, there are rules that you have to follow, or you’ll get reported. Rules include not sharing personal information, no scamming, no bullying, no inappropriate behaviour and more. If you see a Jammer who you think is breaking the rules, you can report them. Some players have tried to say that reporting does nothing, but AJHQ has said a couple times that when a player gets reported, a moderator reviews the account and if the player did do something bad, they will get suspended or banned. Be sure to follow the rules if you don’t want to get suspended or banned!

The Animal Jam trading system is where you can trade for other people’s items, or get trade requests yourself. Don’t trade items you don’t want to trade, because the other player doesn’t have to trade back! Scamming is a way of getting other people’s items unfairly, such as telling you to gift your part of the “trade” then they’ll gift their part. Sometimes they’ll even claim their trading is “broken” or “disabled”. This is a scam, and be sure to report them for scamming. Remember: It’s always okay to say no to a trade! If you’re not sure if a trade is fair, be sure to check the Animal Jam Wikipedia.

There are many more things you can do in Animal Jam, though some features (Such as being able to have all the dens, all animals, and all items) require a paid membership. There is a huge community built around Animal Jam, such as many blogs, YouTube channels, videos, and social media accounts. Animal Jam has made their own blog called The Daily Explorer, be sure to check it out! Animal Jam also has an Instagram account, YouTube account, Twitter account and more! If you ever need to find something out on Animal Jam, you can always look it up and you’ll be sure to find the answers for it.

8yellowcats / Sophia, 19/10/16

 

Autism and Asperger’s Q & A Video #1

This is a follow up video Sophia did after asking for questions for her Autism and Asperger’s Q & A in her 5 Myths About Autism video .

I printed all the questions for her and she answered them first by hand and then answered them by memory (or read them) in her video.

She had a great response from the YouTube Community, Home Educators group and Facebook Family and Friends.

We will be doing another of these next month as they will be a series.

We are all very proud of her.

Feel free to check out her other videos as well on her 8 yellowcats YouTube channel

 

5 Myths About Autism Video

Below is a video Sophia did after seeing someone being bullied about being Autistic.

She decided she wanted to do something to help people understand Autism a bit better so that people will stop being mean and just accept people as they are.

This video got a great response for questions and was shared on several blogs and Facebook Groups for Home Education, Autism Parenting and Autism and Aspergers.

The follow up video; Autism Q & A #1, will be posted as soon as she finishes reading her questions and writing her answers.

We hope you love this one as much as we did. Please feel free to leave comments and questions as she will be continuing her series of Autism Q & A.

We had some great feedback from many of those on our resource pages, including Bill Nason of Autism Discussion Page, Samantha Craft of Everday Aspergers and Sue Larkey.

Here is one quote from Sue Larkey (see resources page for link.)

Hi Maria,

LOVE IT!! Love the cat ears too. Divine your girl you have there.

CONGRATULATIONS to both of you

BEST wishes

Sue

Sue Larkey is uniquely positioned within the education system having taught both as a primary school teacher and a special education teacher. She is a highly qualified educator who has taught students with autism spectrum disorder in the mainstream and special schools. She combines practical experience with extensive research having completed a Masters in Special Education and currently undertaking a Doctorate in Education.

Winner of Naturally Autistic 2013 International Award for
Community Contribution

Sue has authored many books on autism spectrum disorders. Sue believes that armed with the tools of understanding and confidence much can be achieved.

 


Why don’t they listen Mom?

Sophia’s teacher told me today when I went to pick her up, that Sophia missed out on swimming because she hit a boy. (he also missed swimming)

Sophia said the boy, kicked her a bunch of times, so she finally hit him to make him stop but the teacher only saw the end of it, and she missed out on swimming.
What the actual hell??
She said she felt so sad she was crying really hard and then she felt embarrassed because she cried in front of them all. She feels it was “completely inappropriate as a punishment.” and I agree. They are suppose to lose playtime for offenses, not swim instruction.
So we teach our girls early on that boys (bullies) can do whatever they want and if we girls defend ourselves, we get punished too.

I was so angry I couldn’t even say anything. Why oh why can I only communicate in writing with authority figures. I just freeze up and nod and panic inside and try to get away as fast as I can. I could so easily become a hermit with a little hermit daughter.
This is the same boy S who helped R attack her last year and harasses her all the time for being ‘different and weird.”. Grrrrrrr.

She said on the way home, “Mom, there is a notice on the wall that tells you your rights. It says you are not suppose to tease people for being different.

Why don’t they listen Mom? ” I told her that I really don’t know, maybe they are just not thinking of how it makes you feel. Then I suggested she write the teacher a letter, or we do it together so she can have her say.They completely ignore the Autism and expect her to be a typical kid. She can’t do that, her brain and nervous system are not wired the same. This small incident was devastating to her, and created a massive meltdown on the way home and likely she will grow to not trust her teacher to do what is right in the future.

I may need an advocate to come to the school with me and write everything down for them. Her Doctor yesterday suggested I get one, and this is just confirmation for me.

Déjà vu, my own school days all over again. We may have to teach her some ninja self defense moves but I am sure as hell not telling her not to defend herself. A lack of support personnel is the issue, not my daughter defending her body.

She knows home school is an option, but I won’t force her unless I feel I must. She loves seeing her friends, but her health and well being must come first.

A plan to deal with a girl at school

Oh dear, Sophia’s friend was helping her make a plan to deal with a girl at school.

She was cracking up and said, “You know it is a joke right? I wouldn’t do that for real Mom.”

She was laughing a bit too hard…. she may have a bit of Auntie Frankie‘s genes.

Anti-TPPA protest and fun with friends

We had a good day today with our favourite fellow hippy family.

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We stopped at their place and the kids played for a bit, Tyler is such a great kid, always super nice to Sophia and makes sure she is having fun. We also got to see the sweetest cat ever, Honey.

Then we went to the meeting place at the giant ball and took a couple pictures while we waited for everyone to arrive.

We met up with the protesters and made our voices heard that we oppose of the TPPA.

It was great seeing such a diverse crowd all signing petitions and speaking out… loudly.

Teaching our kids about social justice and being a non violent eco warrior by using our voice and our presence is always a great day.

We have had in length discussions with our kids about the TPPA and how it will affect everyone and how important it is to sign petitions and write letters to government officials.

Today, they got to be a part of that, again and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.