Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our Newest Board Game

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How cute is this game?

We are totally board game people--what homeschooling family isn't, right? But Flea Circus by R and R Games is our most recent favorite board game to play together.

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The game pieces are well made and super cute, and the rules are easy enough that Miss O, my new 5 year old, caught on quickly and can play a mean hand all on her own! She is the least into board games of all of us, so that is really saying something.

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Hey, you can even play by yourself, or if you're anything like Little Bean, with your pet monkey! Just kidding, you have to have at least one friend to play with, but still, isn't this pic adorable? I bet you can't guess who won! ;)

So here's the lowdown on this game, cause I know if you're looking at my pics you're already interested cause this game is just so darn cute!

Flea Circus is a card game that utilizes little rubber cats and dogs--the "spectators"--who have come to watch the "fleas" perform in their circus shows. Each player tries to attract the most spectators to his show to win the game. The box has easy to understand instructions included, and says that the game is for ages 6 and up. But like I said before, my daughter just turned 5, and she is a whiz at this game! The cost listed on the website is $15.95.

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And here's a bonus--if your little one is learning skip counting, this game can help them along. Dog spectators are worth two tickets, cats are worth one. So when the cards run out and everyone counts out their spectators, you can take the opportunity to practice skip counting by twos with your child. Here, Miss O used her abacus to count by twos and then ones to figure out her total number of spectators.

Like this game? Me too. And you're super lucky. Because the folks at R and R Games say you can use the promo code CREW20 to receive 20% off any purchase on the site. It's good until the end of the year too, so if you wanna tuck this little game away for a Christmas gift, you can do that too!

Not convinced? Read more reviews R and R games here.

Thanks for reading, and happy playing!

Disclaimer: I was given Flea Circus free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, nor was I compensated in any way. I strive to be as forthright and candid in my reviews as possible.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice...

....that's what our little foster baby is made of! We picked up our very first placement as foster parents yesterday morning. She is a week and a half old and is just as sweet as can be. :) If the first 36 hours are any indication, she is going to be a very agreeable baby.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Challenges of Homeschooling a Child with Autism, Part 2


Check out the calm in his face here after organizing his (pre gfcf diet) snack basket for the week.

Perhaps the most difficult part of homeschooling Little Bean is the meltdowns. It's definitely the most difficult part of parenting him. Last time we talked about sensory issues. Sensory issues only compound and contribute to the meltdown problems. Maybe I should save the worst for last, I don't know, but the truth is, I don't know how many parts will be in this series, since I tend to write as I feel inspired and not to a schedule or plan. So, we'll just address the meltdowns now.

I'll just be honest, Little Bean was a perfect baby, toddler and preschooler. Then, when he turned 4, it was like something inside him just snapped, and the meltdowns began. I can remember being the object of jealousy by all my friends. Not only was Little Bean like the smartest baby ever, he slept through the night, he did not cry when he cut a tooth, his attention span was through the roof, he was "polite" and never hit other babies or toddlers, etc, etc. I used to joke that I could take him to work with me and no one would even know he was there.

The "terrible" twos flew by with nary a meltdown. The threes were more of the same. Sure, there was rising concern that socially he was behind, and perhaps needed more time with other children, but at that point it was only that he seemed extremely shy around others.

Looking back I can see how his "missing" the tantrum milestones should have raised more concern in me. Why didn't he say or do something when other children bullied him? Why did he prefer books over human contact? Why didn't he ask for attention from his parents? Why didn't he assert his will like other children? Why did he run away when other children entered the play area at the park? Why did he cling to my legs when family or friends came to visit? Maybe one of these things would not be a cause for concern, but put them all together and I sometimes feel like I really missed the boat with this one. But, I digress. We'll have to explore that deeper if I end up talking about his social difficulties.

My point is, he was the "perfect" toddler who one day turned into the boy who melts down at the drop of a hat. Part of it is anxiety driven. He has always been an edgy child, kind of wary of new things, and that anxiety seems to have built up in him to where now it's spilling out in the form of meltdowns.

Anxiety and meltdowns together make for a very hard school day. School work is challenging, and there is really nothing that can prevent that. It can be made fun, but for a child who develops anxious feelings when they are in new scenarios, fun isn't so fun, and often, fun leads to meltdowns. I want to talk about two things: first what a meltdown can look like, and second, why a meltdown would occur during school time. Then I want to talk about the ways we are coping with meltdowns at this point in our journey.

1. What a meltdown looks like:

A meltdown is like a tantrum with one big difference; a tantrum is a tool to get what one wants. Once that thing is procured, the tantrum ceases. A meltdown is a reaction to a stressor, and ensues because the person has no other way of expressing their feelings. Long after you have given the child what they want, a meltdown will continue. Because the goal isn't to get what they want. There isn't a goal, a meldown is like heartburn. It's a reaction and it stays with you for a while even after you've taken a few antacids. A meltdown needs plenty of time to wither away, even after the problem has been solved. And a meltdown is more intense than any tantrum you will ever see or hear.

For Little Bean, a meltdown always, always includes crying, usually shouting, and usually some type of sensory-coping behavior (for instance right now he seems fond of quickly opening and closing a door and feeling the rush of wind as he does so repeatedly). Sometimes a meltdown will bring forth aggressive behaviors. Little Bean has thrown pencils, hit, kicked, pushed, scratched, broken things (like crayons for instance) or slammed doors.

2. What causes a meltdown.

For Little Bean meltdowns occur for many, many specific reasons, but I think I can narrow them down into two categories:
--fear of failure (this is the most common school related issue) and

--interruption of perceived plans (this is common in school as well, but not limited to school time)

Here are some for instances for fear of failure or actual failure that can lead to meltdown mode:

--In handwriting, making a letter reversal or other mistake

--In a writing assignment, not knowing what to write about or how to spell what he wants to write

--In math, perceiving that he has too many problems to do, or not being able to instantly understand a problem or concept

--In art, inability to recreate exactly what was shown in the book, or if I insist he try to come up with his own ideas rather than copy, fear of not coming up with an idea or not coming up with one before Miss O

The list goes on, and is only exacerbated by his anxiety. If you have ever had anxiety, you know it's hard to act rational and make good decisions, imagine how difficult it is for a 6 year old with autism to do so without a meltdown.

Here are some for instances for my second category, perceived interruption or change in plans:
The fact is, plans do change. Perhaps we have an appointment or something unexpectedly comes up. Maybe Miss O gave me big problems and her stuff took longer, now Little Bean may not have his school work done when he thought he would. Maybe I didn't have a chance to plan ahead and we are winging our school day. Maybe I call him for school when he'd rather be playing. Maybe he is really into an assignment and we have to stop for one reason or another.

He might start out thinking he likes an assignment only to discover that he doesn't like it and wants to quit. When that's not permitted, we have a meltdown. That's kind of a mix of both categories because he is afraid to fail so he wants to quit, when he isn't allowed to quit (change of plans) he meltdown.

The other category that often causes mini-meltdowns is sensory problems. Sensory problems are like the trigger to having a meltdown in another category. He's working hard to complete a worksheet and is continually distracted by something. Eventually he is going to snap if that noise or movement doesn't stop bothering him. It affects his ability to concentrate and thus he may be afraid to fail, or may want to stop his work because he can't complete it as easily with the distractions. When he isn't allowed to stop, he'll meltdown.

Here's what we're doing to cope:

Give a round of applause because the gluten free, casein free diet gets the award for helping the most with his meltdowns. The longer he is on the diet, the more improvement I see in every affected area. I don't want to sound like it was a cure--it wasn't--but almost 3 months later I am still seeing improvements in his behaviors, including meltdown behaviors and anxiety.

Another approach we have just recently started up again is the Workbox System. A few years ago this system was all the rage, and everyone was doing. Course, I was too. That was when Little Bean was in K. Recently I re-read Sue Patrick's book and decided to try it again. It is a lot of work, but it does eliminate some of the anxiety during school time by giving him really a concrete view of his schoolwork for the day, a definite start and end time, and also frequent breaks from the regular curriculum with the use of centers and technology.

We do use behavioral approaches as well, but I'll be honest and say that I have not seen a ton of improvement from the use of these approaches. When I say behavioral approaches, I mean approaches that seek to modify undesirable behaviors. Although being on the diet has seemed to clear his head enough that he is using his anger cards more or thinking through things before flipping out, I would say this is our least effective approach.

I'll be forthright and just say that prior to the diet, I was really at a loss as a parent and as a homeschooling mom. I wasn't really even sure if I could handle him, and I was terrified that he would be the same way a few years from now and require meds. I am not against meds, but the fact that many of the common ones for behavior modification have not be thoroughly tested on children freaks me out, I'll be honest. The diet has been an answer to prayer really all around, but especially when it comes to the meltdowns and aggressive behavior.

How about you? How do you deal with meltdowns (whether or not your child is autistic)?

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The difference between CA and OK, lol

In California, summertime is a blissful 75 degrees, and you spend all of it outside. It doesn't rain much in the summer, but if it does, it's cold, and you complain about rain in August and you stay inside.

In Oklahoma, summertime is akin to living on the sun, and you spend all if it inside. It doesn't rain much in the summer, but if it does, it's a warm rain with puddles that dry up almost right before your eyes, and you rejoice, and you turn your face up to the sky, and let the rain make little trails down your shoulders, and you stop in the middle of your school day to go outside and dance in the rain until it's gone, all the time wishing it would never go away.

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Why didn't we ever think to dance in the rain when we lived in California?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Identity

People find their identity in different things. It could be in your career. It could be your education or a hobby. Or a religion. For me, it's always been my family.

I love my family.
I love being with them.
My husband is my best friend.
I love my kids. I love teaching them, raising them.
They are a part of me, and I am a part of them.

And family is a good thing.

But I realized something recently. It isn't enough. Our identity, my identity is meant to be defined in Christ, and in Him alone.

Someone said this to me the other day, having no idea at the time that I needed to hear it:she said that so often we ask God for a child, and when He gives us one (or two, or more), our whole world becomes about that child.

Maybe it's only me that struggles with this. I don't know. I don't struggle with drugs, or alcohol or being faithful to my husband or any of the "biggies" that are always mentioned in church. I've always thought, "How can loving my family be wrong?"

And it isn't wrong to love them. But to find my identity in them means that I no longer find my identity in the One who call me to Himself, the One who died for me, the One who brought me into His family. And that is wrong. It's idolatry.

I want to get back to the place where I'm finding my identity in Him, where I'm seeking His wisdom daily, not only so I can show my children what inexplicable joy a relationship with Christ brings, but so I can experience that joy myself.

I want to dance at His feet again.

If you can relate to what I've said here, pray for me, will you? I'd love that! :) And of course, if you let me know you are struggling too, I'd love to pray on your behalf. If you can't relate, that's okay too.

How about you? Do you ever feel this way?

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Right Start to Math U See? Really?

I really can't believe I'm writing this (hangs head). We are such Right Start junkies; I really never thought we'd switch math programs. Little Bean is now on Level C of Right Start, and he is still doing AWESOME with the approach Right Start takes. But...Miss O, who has been working through Level A, is not.

I've come to the conclusion that in some ways she is just not ready for the rigorous work that Right Start expects of it's students. It moves quickly, and it relies on UNDERSTANDING the concepts in order to move forward. Miss O isn't "getting it" most of the time. Honestly, we could probably keep on with Level A for her this year for K (yes, she is now 5 and ready for K), but she not only isn't getting it all, she isn't enjoying it. Not the best way to start out Kindergarten.

I started looking at Math U See. I have always stayed away from it because I know it incorporates video instruction, and I like to be the one teaching my kids, at least at their ages. But come to find out, the videos can be just watched by the parents ahead of time and then explained to the children during their lessons. That's how I plan to use them.

The biggest difference between Math U See and Right Start is that Math U See is a mastery based program, and Right Start is a lot more spiral. Mastery means focusing on one topic for the most part until mastered, then moving on. Spiral means visiting lots of topics over and over and with increasing complexity over time. Part of Miss O's struggles does seem to stem from the way Right Start moves around from topic to topic all the time. Little Bean has never minded it or said a thing about it, but I do notice it's hard for Miss O to keep up.

The other part, as I said earlier is that Miss O just doesn't seem ready for Right Start. It is a very rigorous curriculum. So I'm starting her on Math U See Primer, which can be used for preschool or Kinder, just depending on their needs. Some of it seems too easy for her, but I'll know more when it arrives in the mail. I plan to use it in conjunction with Right Start A, because I do like some of the way things are presented in Right Start better than they are presented in Math U See (this just based off of the demo video I sent in for from MUS).

More to come as we try out this new program!

Do you use Math U See? How do you like it?

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Miss O Reading Update

Do you remember last year when I reviewed Academic Success for All Learners Little Books set? Click here for links and my review. I started Miss O on that program, and she did great. They so generously sent me Sets 1 to 4 (out of 8), and believe it or not, she has only 3 more books in Set 4 to read before she is ready to move on. This should take 12 school days (approx.) since she read's each story twice and there are two stories in each book. She is reading really well, things like the Step Into Reading books, Level 3, Berenstein Bears, and Dr. Suess books; she is probably around a late first grade level now. BUT, she still needs reading instruction to kind of get her to the point of reading chapter books, and then I know she'll really fly!

So, with July being a 3 paycheck month we were left with some extra cash, and I was able to purchase the last 4 sets of the Little Books for her. They arrived last Thursday, and I am looking forward to seeing the success she will continue to have with reading using this curriculum.

My darling husband has so nicely made me some magazine holders (not pictured) out of the cardboard boxes that our Ziplock bags come in from Sams. Two boxes fits all eight sets quite nicely, and will be sturdier than storing them in the plastic bins they are in now.

Also, more to come soon on how Miss O is faring with Right Start Math, Level A. While Little Bean is soaring with this curriculum, and always has (he is now on Level C), Miss O, well, isn't. I am looking into what to do from here for her Kindergarten year in math.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Things that make me leave your blog even if I like the content...

I'm not a blog snob at all (is that even a phrase!?). I love blogs. Especially homeschooling blogs. Small blogs, big blogs, medium sized blogs, if you are interesting, I'll follow. I've been going through this extremely long, but interesting (!), blog roll lately, and have found a bunch of homeschooling blogs that interest me. But, I've only followed a few of them. Why?

Here are some things that make me leave your blog and not return, even if I like your content:


1. Black screen, white or bright (think neon) words OR using italics or some other crazy font for every post. My eyes can't take it.

2. Follower button is not there or is far down on the page. I don't want to have to search for a way to follow you. Put it at the top, please!

3. Too many reviews and no personal content. I may be guilty of this at times due to being on a review team. But I really try to intersperse personal content with reviews. The reviews may help some people too, but a blog that is all reviews on the first page will not prompt me to look at older posts.

4. Showing only 1 post per page. Whose idea was this?! Yes, your pages will load faster, but I have to click through six pages to get an idea of what you post about.

5. No search option combined with no labels. It's not helpful to me to see how many posts you've done each month if I don't know what the posts were about. I want to ideally be able to read what kind of topics you post about AND be able to search for particular topics.

6. Slow loading pages because you have a bazillion buttons in your side bar. My laptop is newish, but it is tempermental. Don't make it or me work harder than necessary to view your content. Pare down the side bar.

7. Avoiding "real" blogging. If you have something on your heart, don't be afraid to write about it. I like seeing some "real person behind the computer screen" posts once in a while. I don't always want to read about craft projects and book reviews. I want to know who you are too! :)

And here are some things I think newer bloggers worry about that aren't all that important (to me at least) for gaining readers:


1. Being like the "big" bloggers. If you've been lurking on homeschooling blogs for a while you know there are a few big name bloggers who everyone knows about. You don't have to write like them, use their curriculum choices, or be like them in order to be interesting. Be yourself.

2. Perhaps the biggest one is an obsession with getting followers. If you are interesting and relatively active on your blog, you will slowly but surely gain followers who actually care about what you write about. I'll read your blog whether you have 10 followers or 8,000 if I like your content.

3. Providing something for free (printables, pdfs, etc etc). This is not important to me. I want people to read my blog because they like it and are interested in it, not just because they can get something for free. If you want to share, please do, that's wonderful! But if you don't know how to share pdfs and you don't write your own curriculum, that's perfectly okay too!

4. Super fancy blogs. You don't have to have a drop down menu and a custom header and discus comments and be a part of every social media site out there to be interesting. Just be you!

5. Worrying about blogging every.single.day. You don't have to. I used to think I'd lose readers when I didn't find something to write about at least 5 times a week. Not so. I have lots of long time readers who come back. And it holds true for me too; I visit the same blogs over and over even if they don't write alot because I know their content when they do write is always interesting to me.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. What about you? Do you have pet peeves when it comes to reading blogs? Do you have certain things you wish every blogger would incorporate? Do you have blogging anxiety (lol) about your own growing blog?

I'd love to hear from you!

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Foster Parenting, almost done with the wait!

You might remember that we are new foster parents. The social worker contacted me today to let us know that we are almost done with the wait! She has submitted our paperwork, so she said to be expecting a call for a possible placement within a week or so! I'm excited and nervous to begin this journey.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The challenges of homeschooling a child with autism, part 1



Little Bean's Challenge #1: My senses are on crack.

Ha ha. Not really. But sometimes it does seem that way. Little Bean does not have a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder, or any other disorder other than Autism for that matter. But he does present sensory issues. Some of his senses work too well, and others don't seem to work at all.

We have five basic senses that everyone knows about--sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. In occupational therapy, you get to learn about another sense that everyone has, and it's called our vestibular sense. Your vestibular sense is a hard one to figure out, but suffice it to say that it has a lot to do with balance and feeling balanced.

Little Bean's vestibular sense doesn't work all that great; it's under-responsive. So many times when he is sitting down doing seat work, all of the sudden, he'll just fall out of the chair. Literally fall out and hit the ground hard. I never understood this pre-diagnosis. I learned that if I try to make him sit, he'll eventually take a dive. He does seem to understand that something isn't right with this sense, because I often catch him trying to correct it. At the table he will almost always stand, rather than sit while he works. Or, he'll "perch" on the edge of the chair, one foot planted on the ground, one little bun on the chair, and one off (this almost always leads to falls too). If we are on the floor, he'll lean all the way forward and listen with his head touching the ground. Or he'll rock forward and back while he listens, maybe trying to orient himself. Sometimes he'll lay with his head upside down on the couch and his feet in the air. Or he'll listen as he spins in circles. At the dinner table, I insist that he sit....so the crumbs fall on the plate and not the floor. Now that I write that, standing would work just as well there...hmmm, something to think about. But he can't bear to sit with his feet dangling. So he has a bathroom stool under the table to prop his feet up.

Hearing is another sense that seems to be out of whack for my son. I don't quite understand whether he is under-responsive or over-responsive or both. I'm inclined to say both. First, he hears everything. Buzzing lights, trains that are 10 miles away, the neighbor parking their car in the drive, a pen clicking to open, paper rustling, a page turning, a whisper, a door squeaking, even Miss O breathing. He hears it all, and he has no apparent ability to block it out or separate the important sounds from the unimportant ones. He cannot concentrate very well if he hears any noise that irritates him, though he tries hard.

On the other hand, Little Bean has a nickname in our house--he's our human music box. It's true. He is never quiet. Never. And it's hardly ever words that he is speaking; it's noises. He learned to whistle sort of a quasi-whistle-bird-call one day a few months ago. He never stopped. Literally sun up to sun down he whistled. Before that is was gulping. He would gulp all day long. When he was a toddler, it was humming. Constant humming. Now we have moved on to sort of a glottal-stop-back-of-the-throat sniffing sound. His noises do not bother him, though they do drive the rest of us batty from time to time. In fact, his noises comfort him greatly. We try our very best to ignore them as much as possible because we know how much input he gets from them.

Smelling and tasting are the least affected of his senses (Miss O on the other hand, lol, she has a super sniffer for sure!). I want to touch on his challenges with touch (no pun intended) and sight before I end. First I want to say, our issues with touch have improved greatly, so much, since starting the gluten free, casein free diet. I am so pleased each new day when he not only willingly accepts a hug now, but seeks hugs and asks for foot rubs. Such a huge difference. Really, like night and day.

We do still have a no-touch rule when he is upset. When he is agitated, which happens often during school time, he can't stand, I mean physically can't stand to be touched. He just flips out if you do. If he is hurt and crying, the last thing he wants is a comforting hug. I remember asking him once when he was in tears from hurting himself if he wanted a hug. He gave an emphatic, "No! Of course not! Why would I want a hug!!?" I remember pre-diagnosis we noticed that when we tucked him in at night, he'd pull back from our hugs and give sort of an air hug instead. If we touched his shoulder or back, he'd arch away as if in pain. I don't know what touch feels like to him, but I do know that before our diet, it definitely wasn't a pleasant experience.

And sight. Sight is a big one. Little Bean is a detail boy. He sees everything. I remember when he was in K and I pulled out our All About Spelling tiles. An "s" is one of those letters that is the same whether it's right side up or upside down. Not to Little Bean. The All About Spelling font is apparently a little bit different on the top side than on the bottom. I remember him pausing between his spelling words to turn that upside down tile. As much as he notices that kind of detail, he also notices all the other little details in the room. The stray toy on the carpet, the out of place hair hanging down from my pony tail, the cushion that was put on upside down on the couch. The shadow of the mail man outside. A mosquito flying by the window. The movement of the sun behind a cloud, and the shadow that casts in the room. The movement if Miss O as she puts a bead on a string. It's hard for him. Everything stops when something outside of himself moves or is out of place.

So what? What do these things have to do with making homeschooling him challenging? Well, sensory problems are only a small fraction of what makes things difficult, it's the compilation of all the different things that brings forth daily challenges.

But imagine this: You are teaching a spelling lesson at the dining room table. The student cannot sit still. He is standing, then he's spinning, then he's sitting (because you told him to), then he's laying, then he's rocking, then he's perching, and once again you've told him to sit and pay attention. He is doing his best to pay attention by stimulating his vestibular sense which then comforts him, making him more able to pay attention. But you don't see that. You just see this hyperactive kid who can't possibly be listening through so much movement and you get frustrated. Add to this scenario a constant whistle. You must talk over the whistle. If you ask the whistle to stop, it will, but only until he stops consciously thinking about not whistling (during which time he cannot think about what you are trying to teach him because he is thinking about not whistling). Now add in a little sister. And a dishwasher whirring, and the jeans clanking in the dryer. And the neighbor pulling his trash cans in. And the sound of rain on the carport. He can't hear you over all the noise. But a home must be run, and you can't magically stop the noise. He doesn't seem to be paying attention, so you tap him on the knee or shoulder to get his attention. Bad idea. He can't stand to be touched, especially an unanticipated touch. He flips out.

So it is challenging. Add in the other issues I'm going to share later this month, and you'll see that this is only the tip of the iceberg, for him and for me. It only gets harder from here.

We learned about some neat tools in occupational therapy. We have fidgets, which are little toys that the child can handle and hopefully fulfill a bit of a sensory need while doing so and be able to sit longer. We have a weighted vest too. It's a weighted, compression vest, so it gives both a sense of grounding and a deep pressure. It's supposed to calm the child. We let him sit on an balancing cushion when he must do seat work. We use instrumental music to block out the distracting sounds (he loves this!). But the biggest thing is learning to recognize that his behaviors sometimes are happening because he IS trying to pay attention and must do these things in order to do so. So I have to learn to ignore the behavior, as challenging as that is. I'm still learning. I was never a hyper kid. I could sit still and listen in class. So it's hard for me to expect something different from Little Bean. But I have to. I have to learn to, otherwise, I just end up frustrated, and so does he.

More to come in Part 2 of this series....

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lots of spam comments

I'm getting an unusual amount of totally inappropriate spam comments lately, so I'm going to have to enable the word recognition thing. I've always had it off because it makes it easier to comment, plus, I have never had spam issues in the past. Just letting you all know!

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Monday, August 1, 2011

The challenges of homeschooling a child with Autism



I really enjoyed writing my series on homeschooling a child with autism. It was great therapy for me. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of all the reasons that I do choose to keep Little Bean at home. Not just my general reasons for choosing homeschooling for all our kids, but my nitty-gritty reasons for choosing homeschooling for Little Bean specifically. I need to be reminded. Because I'll be perfectly honest with you; homeschooling Little Bean, largely due to his special needs, is really, really, really hard.

For the longest time, in our pre-diagnosis days, I would read about these perfect little homeschooling families, and I'd sit back and wonder, how come my homeschool days didn't look like theirs?? How come every time I was fun and creative my son would end up in tears? How come every time I followed his lead, he'd end up melting down? How come he couldn't sit still or be quiet? Or look at me when I was teaching him? How come he would become distracted by the smallest thing and couldn't get back on track? How come homeschooling him wasn't as fun as I thought it would be?

Well, post-diagnosis, I know better. I don't have to wonder as much any more where some of his behaviors are coming from. Course, every child is unique and presents his or her own challenges. I'm not "blaming" anything on autism; I'm just saying that the more I learn about autism, the more I seem to know how to better teach my son.

I remember opening up Tony Attwood's book, The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome a few weeks before we got Little Bean's diagnosis. I devoured that book. It spoke to me because it was like reading a book about my son, word for word, letter by letter. I've devoured plenty of other books since then, and I love learning all I can about autism, because every new piece of information I take in helps me. It helps me parent him, and that in turn helps me homeschool him.

I want to talk about some of the challenges we face in our homeschool due to behaviors Little Bean presents each time we sit down to work. I want to talk about this because I feel like, and maybe it's just me, but there seems to be this hesitancy in the homeschooling community about opening up about our struggles. We like to show off our curriculum and our school rooms and our projects. But we don't often like to talk about the hard parts about homeschooling. I think we should. I hope someone reads my blog and they can see their own homeschooling situation in it, and they can say, "Hey, maybe I'm not alone. Maybe this is doable." That's what I want.

So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be writing some posts about the challenges I face in teaching Little Bean in our home. The things I've discovered that have worked for us, the things I've had to question and let go of, and most especially the things I haven't figured out yet, because there are surely a lot of those too.

I look forward to sharing my heart with you in this series, and I hope you all enjoy reading it too!

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