Second thoughts about school

Sophia has really been struggling this year with school. It really is amazing what a difference a teacher can make.

Last year her teacher was the first to actually take her Autism seriously, as he has relatives who are Autistic as well. Most teachers so far, just expect her to fit in and don’t check in with her to see how she is doing. She thrived last year.

She is bored at school. She has learned a lot of what they are just starting to learn in her class so she gets bored and then disconnects. She also has to take Woodworking every Wednesday which she hates and is extremely afraid she will cut off her finger.

Combine her fear with her sensitive hearing, and the fact that her anxiety about the class kicks in as soon as she wakes up, and her nervous system gets overwhelmed before she even goes there. She even spends some Tuesday nights awake, unable to sleep due to stressing about the next day.

She has been home a lot this year, for a few reasons. There have been some really terrible viruses going around this year and we seem to get every one!

She has been struggling with her menses as she has a heavy flow and there is no allowances made with regard to PE while she is dealing with that, and any woman who has worn pads can tell you, running or playing sports while bleeding heavy makes a real mess and you get worse cramping.

They worship sports and physical activity here and I just don’t get it. It seems like there is a running or biking competition every couple weeks and of course it is mandatory that you participate.

This angers me, because it strips our children’s right to consent about what happens with their bodies. This is a huge issue and not only for girl’s but also, the boys. They see and perpetuate that you can force people to do what they don’t want to do just by pressuring them and telling them they have to. Also, it takes away the child’s ability to be sensitive to what their bodies are telling them. It interferes with their Autonomy and individuality, which is sadly, what schools were originally designed to do. This all needs to change.

Another issue for her, is that she keeps getting sick, some off it is anxiety, which has always manifested as stomach issues for her.  Also, she is environmentally sensitive, so she feels seismic, barometric and electromagnetic variances, so any changes in those areas and she is affected physically and emotionally. She gets that from me, I have the same thing. This has been steadily increasing the past couple years.

Her psychic and empathic abilities are also harder to ignore at this age, so she feels other people and knows things about them. It can be confusing when someone’s words don’t match the energy they are sending out. This is such a tricky age with Extra-Sensory development (now called Sensory Processing Disorder.)

She has had some of her tics coming back which indicates stress. Her appetite has been all over the place and so have her moods. The rage that comes form her is quite overwhelming at times, and I know she needs help channeling that again.

I work with her of course, but catching it in the moment is crucial to helping her recognise the subtle changes before they get to that point.

This illness, anxiety and stress… is all from school. I am seriously considering taking her out and homeschooling her again.

I know she will have great opportunities for learning, and make friends within the homeschooling community. They have an amazing Network here locally and do some really great activities.

Her class is taking a trip to Wellington next week and she can’t go. Brent asked to be one of the parents, but he wasn’t chosen, so she won’t go. I know this is the best decision for her, but it still sucks that she missed out on the opportunity.

We sat down with her and explained the trip and what they would be doing. Just the thought of it made her anxious so we decided as a family we would keep her home due to health reasons.

I can’t have her so far away in that environment without one of us there if she needs help. If she had a full blown meltdown, they wouldn’t know how to handle her. Also, her classmates may not treat her the same once they witnessed a full meltdown and we can’t allow that to happen.

We will take her on a trip down there as a family and see some if the places she missed. She has been to some of it already, when we took our family holiday last year. Thanks to IHC and their Take A Trip Getaway package they so generously awarded us. You can read more about Day 1 here and day 2 here.

Brent and I will talk with her again and go over what her options are. If she is going to keep missing school, I would prefer that she is homeschooled. Right now, she is in a state of confusion and the anxiety and stress are affecting her physically and that is not good.

At least if she homeschooled, I know she is still meeting (and exceeding) her education requirements and can join in their activities and make some friends within the group. She gets along with everyone at school, but yet has no one she is really connecting with.

We will see what happens, but for now, she is in bed, and will stay home again with a slight fever. She has a head cold and a sore throat. She has also been very angry, sleepy and withdrawn for the past few days and her tics have increased. I know she wouldn’t be ok in her classroom in this shape.

We are having a lot of seismic unrest, and that always affects her, and myself. I think we will have a good quake soon to release some of the pressure. Hopefully it will be out to sea and not affect anyone directly, but I also know that God always has a plan.

Now to make a plan with my girl and see how she feels about trying to homeschool again, or even do Te Kura (homeschooling with a Teacher that visits once per week).

Finnic for Ace

Art by 8yellowcats for +Ace (The Parademic)

On a lighter note, you can check out some of her latest works of art here, and some of her older work. This is how she copes, doing art. She is really pushing her boundaries and trying new things and I love watching her artwork blossom. She is so talented and I would love to get her into some art classes. Maybe we can take them together. 😀

This post was read and approved by Sophia. 😉 Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. Feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

Two years of homeshooling!

It was exactly two years ago today that I got the call to say we had been approved to homeschool.

It was one of the best days ever and we were so excited.

So much has happened in the past two years and we have had some amazing adventures.

Sophia is back to herself, she is confident, happy and curious for knowledge.

She rarely has anxiety and her art has flourished along with her YouTube channel.

She is doing great with her studies and is happy to do the work as she knows it is work first and computer after.

She has discovered that she loves baking, swimming, reading, making art and videos and going on adventures. She has even discovered she enjoys listening to music!

She has learned how to self-regulate and does so well most of the time, it can be harder when it is sensory related. She has also learned to think of another’s point of view, and to be a good citizen and care about the community.

We are still working on dealing with disappointment and conversation cues, but there has been a huge improvement.

She is talking to people more, especially clerks in stores and she feels pride when she has spoken to them, always ending with “have a nice day.” which she says makes her feel good.

Overall, in the past two years we have achieved all that we have set out to do with her. We wanted to bring her back to knowing herself, and to be in control of herself through the confidence that knowing who she is allows.

She may do a school trial this year for 20 days, she has been talking about it but then decides she doesn’t want to. This is her decision and we will respect what she wants, as long as she is not in danger of receding in all the work we have accomplished.

A huge thank you to all of our friends and family for your support and to our local community of Homeschoolers for always being open, accepting and planning great adventures.

Especially I am grateful to my husband, our sons and Mam Bear for always being so supportive, you make everything so much more fun.

Love from Sophia and I.

 

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.

2016 – I lost my Queen

Someone posted this on Facebook yesterday and I was thinking to myself, I hope it doesn’t take our Queen. My Queen has always been my mother.

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My mother had a heart attack the night before last, and went to the hospital at 11pm.

She spent all of yesterday waiting to be transported to another hospital an hour away,  in Sacramento.

She was transported at 5:45pm to Sutter Hospital and underwent more testing.

They said she had bad heart disease and they would do surgery in the morning.

This morning they did a quadruple bypass, removed a blockage from her neck and put in a stent.

We were told she had a 97% chance of survival after the recovery period.

My Mother died at about 6:30pm (California, USA) and my heart is breaking; not only for my own loss, but for my siblings, children, nieces, nephews, aunties and all our family and her many people she accepted the mothering role for over her lifetime -and there were many.

My Mother had one hell of a life. She gave birth to eight children all before she was 30, and adopted many along the way whose parents had deserted or disowned them. She had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was beloved, respected and cherished by us all, and many others.

She breastfed and used cloth nappies for all eight of her kids, grew and pickled our food, made bread and noodles from scratch, did our laundry with a washing board, hung our clothes to dry and made those clothes last through several kids.

She survived the murder of her mother and a year later the passing of her father due to heartbreak, the death of her older brother Jimmy, baby brother Johnny, her sister Joyce and Joyce’s son (her nephew Michael -who she loved as much as her own children), two husbands Greg and Victor J (whom she nursed after his double bypass in 1985 – and she held his hand as he passed 20 years after they had separated because he was still her best friend) and countless friends and other relatives.

She was an extremely talented artist, she was a homeless advocate (where she earned the name ‘Jail-time Judith’ from her many arrests for feeding and sleeping next to the homeless), she started a restaurant run by homeless teens, so they had a place to sleep, eat and shower.

When we were younger, due to circumstances beyond our control, we were homeless, we were penniless, we were hungry, but we never felt a lack of love and she always pulled us through.

She was a natural learner and never stopped learning new things, she got her driver’s license at 50 years old.

She was never afraid to speak her mind- but always with compassion and dignity. She was a go go-dancer (to feed her kids), a college student, a business owner, a mentor and a friend to many and she even went to a grateful dead concert.

She would give the shirt off her back to someone in need, and she did many times.

She lived with with Multiple Sclerosis for over 20 years and rarely complained, and still got up to dance every chance she got- and man could she dance!

Most of all she was the biggest fan of every one of her kids, encouraging us in whatever we decided we wanted to do. She was crazy, she was fun, and she was unique – just like each of her kids, grand kids and great grand kids -and we are lucky to have been blessed by having her in our lives.

My life will never be the same – I know this, and even though I know she is with her previous husbands, her brothers and sister and parents and all of our ancestors it still hurts to say goodbye.

I called and spoke with her while she was in the hospital and I am so grateful I got to tell her that I love her.

My birthday will never be the same, as I was born on her birthday.

Being in New Zealand with no possible way to afford being with my family is very hard, but I still feel a peace within it all because I know they all have each other.

Please, call your Mother right now and tell her how much you love her -and if your mother has already passed; I am so sorry for the loss of your Queen.

2016 can go away now.

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My Step-father Victor J and us kids with Mom and my niece Crystal 1980/81?

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Mom with some of the grand kids Sept 2016

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One of Mom’s Paintings – a Self Portrait
Resurrection 2001 (Detail)
20 x 16
Mixed Medium
Private Collector

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Dear Class (a note from Sophia)

Today we went to the school to gather Sophia’s belongings from her desk and some of her work and records. Sophia had an idea so her friends could find her and keep in touch.

She made this letter and some little tickets (with her name, phone, email and websites) for her classmates.

 

 

Dear Class 3 June, 2015

It says:

Dear Class,

I am home schooling now. I am having lots of fun. My Doctor gave me a certificate to go swimming at the splash centre. I go to RDA to ride ponies. That’s called Equine Therapy. The pony I ride is named Princess Puzzle. She is white with brown patches and has a long white main and tail. I do my studies really fast! If you want to contact me please ask Mrs. (Teacher’s name) for a green ticket.

From Sophia Lawless

P.S. Stay in touch 🙂

 

UPDATE:

I was told by several of her friends that the Teacher never read this to them or handed out the cards. Such a shame they tried to interfere with Sophia maintaining her school friendships. Fortunately, our son still goes there so he gives messages to her friends before school and at lunch. Plus we attend the charity day and other family events and she always has her number cards in her purse or mine.

Officially Approved to Homeschool

I got a call this afternoon, from the amazing woman helping me with my ‘Application for Exemption from Enrollment at a Registered School’ aka exemption application.

Cynthia said she had just spoken with Charles (Uncle Charlie to Brent) at the Ministry Of Education and that my application had been approved [on 28 May] and should be in the mail within the next couple days. She advised me that we are officially approved to homeschool!

(Uncle Charlie did not process our application as that would be a conflict of interest, it went to another person for processing.)

Sophia is now ‘officially’ attending … Lawless Academy of Aut[odidactic]ism. 😉 SQUEEK!!!

We are very grateful to everyone, for your encouragement and assistance. So excited.

 

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The Exemption Process

When first seeing the application for Exemption, it can be a bit overwhelming. However, if you break it down into sections, it is much easier to focus on what you wish to convey in your application documentation. Especially if your child is struggling with anxiety, sensory issues and being bullied, and you want to get it done as as soon as possible.

I researched for a year into home educating, and my husband and I discussed all of our options, then we decided we would go ahead with the application. During this time I was also suffering from a concussion and the post concussive syndrome, so I am sure that added to my brain fog, self doubt and stress. We decided to wait until I was better to begin the process. This was the right thing to do, but it came to a point where we could no longer wait so we went ahead and got started.

I highly recommend that you research  as much as you can, and join ‘Homeschool’ and ‘Unschooling’ (and in our case ‘AS Homeschooling’) groups, in order to find out what you want to do, as well as what others have done. Be sure to scroll through past posts as well as there is a wealth of information in the group pages.

This helps you not only in taking the right steps, but also formulating what your own schooling style is. It is also great for support and for learning through observing what others have had success with. Networking with other home educators is excellent for resource sharing as well.

We had some help with our exemption application from a lovely woman who has been home educating for 20 years. I found her through our local ‘Homeschoolers Group’ some of my friends told me about. She not only helped me with my paperwork, by providing examples, suggested edits and additions (for clarity) in my application, she also helped me with moral support.

Cynthia also spoke directly with the Ministry Of Education on my behalf and monitored my process. I will be eternally grateful to her for all of her support, as well as her dedication to Homeschooling families. Here is the link to Cynthia’s Website, just in case some of you are in NZ and considering home education for your family.

During the Exemption application process, your child must remain enrolled in school, but there are ways around that in extreme cases like ours, where the child is self-harming or ill due to the the stress of school. Our GP (General Practitioner aka Family Dr.) wrote an exemption certificate for 3 weeks for Sophia to miss school, based upon her levels of anxiety and stomach issues, relating to the anxiety and stress.

This worked well for us as I was not sending her to school in the shape she was in. Luckily, the exemption process only took 9 days from submission to acceptance or approval. I have never been so happy to have a piece of paper (except for my wedding day.)

If you have a child like mine, who struggled in school due to sensory overload, bullying, self-harm, a lack of support services, or even school staff lacking an understanding of Autism, or any reason at all; then I would suggest you look into home education, it has made a world of difference in our child.

Our official date to begin was 28 May 2015. This is her face when she found out…

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We have our Exemption Certificate!

“OMG! Really?!”

Yes, Kit, you are now an official Homeschooler! Are you Happy?

“OMG, OMG, OMG! YES!”

Me too baby girl, so very happy.

Can I just ask where all the teacher’s aides have gone?

This is a conversation I had today with a few friends on FB. It has some great points and unfortunately bullying in schools is on a steady incline with many incidents not being reported on paper – due to schools not wanting bad reports.


My Original Post: Can I just ask where all the teacher’s aides have gone????

Why is there such a lack of supervision in schools, and why do we teach no bullying, yet create conditions to allow it to happen?

  •  Polli: oh dear…this is not sounding good….you wanna homeschool our girls together?

Seriously considering it, we should get together soon and discuss it more.

  • Polli: sure hun….you wanna come round for a cuppa and I can show you what we did and are doing?

Yes please, I will PM you.

  • Polli: The gist of our problem….no teacher aide funding available unless our daughter was the one doing the hitting every day and even then….maybe at best. In two years I’ve been made aware of the funding being cut to teacher aides 3 times – I’m sure it’s been more than that 😦

Absolutely ridiculous, aides should be assigned to ALL classes and especially, to watch over the playground and lunches. They are an integral part of community building, behaviour modification and assistance to education.

  • Polli: 1 in 100 kids in NZ mainstream school that need assistance receive funding for teacher aide time…..even in the worst cases, it rarely covers the whole school day – it’s getting pretty criminal and the fact is, for a lot of Kiwi kids, the schools are no longer safe.

Yep, in school this year, my daughter has learned first-hand about physical and verbal abuse, neglect, bullying, theft, lying, favouritism, and that some adults can’t be counted on for help. Year 3 sucks so far. It’s too bad, as her teacher is brilliant.

  • Polli: I’m so sorry Maria…. it’s heartbreaking and it’s not fair. It’s cruel for any child but even more so for our Aspies……I think that maybe the majority of the Aspie reputation for having social issues is in reality, the side effects of growing up with other people’s social issues.

Too true Polli.

The school I worked at in the states as an aide had one aide for every 6 kids.

  • Lydia: It’s appauling! … and more cuts to come!

When did children become such a low priority to governments???

  • Polli: they always have been hunni…….it’s just getting blatant now 😦
  • Lydia: Yeah our future generation!!! It saddens me so much

Time for the Mamas to get pissed and lobby for some changes!

  • Lydia: Maria, why are we being encouraged to drug up our children? So the government’s job is made easier, I tell you, home schooling is on the rise! The more our children are in a zombie state the easier they are to teach, so less teachers to pay!

Yes, and it is a cycle which gets worse as the kids are not getting the help they need and will not learn appropriate responses, so sad. It is the systems which are disabled, not our kids!

  • Amanda : Busy at my school lol

I wish we had you. 😦 Can we clone you please Amanda??? Or can we steal you away from that school? lol

  • Amanda:  😦 I would love to be cloned lol. I’m having trouble at work I’ve been given all these new programmes to do with my boy but it is so over this head the works come from an RTLB but my ASD child doesn’t understand, so I’m trying to make it to his level

Amanda would love to get together soon. He is lucky to have you.

  • Amanda: Not this weekend but next if you’re free just pm me

Sounds great Amanda. Thank you so much, everyone.