Dealing with helpful advice(6 Posts)
And by helpful, I really mean 'helpful'...
I have posted on here before. Our situation is that we are HE our DS (5yrs). He has autism and should have started his (deferred) P1 in August (Scotland). He attended mainstream nursery for 2 years.
I completely buy into HE and all the benefits associated with it, however our families (my parents and inlaws) don't really get it. They want us to hire some kind of tutor, and both have offered to pay for it. They feel he needs 'structure' and to be 'moving forward' with his education. He needs to start learning that in life, sometimes we have to do and learn things we don't want to. They can't understand that maybe a child would want to learn to read, for example, unless they were formally taught. They think that left to their own devices, kids would just sit around watching cartoons, and being completely illiterate. He needs to be round other children, learning social skills.
I've tried explaining that their approach wouldn't work for DS. I've tried explaining that he's far more likely to learn if he is interested, and things are child-led, and that he completely disengages in adult-led topics. Ive explained that we do have structure, that we do lots of things, go lots of places, have lots of opportunities for learning everyday. I've explained he is very difficult to motivate. I've told them his nursery struggled to get him to listen or pay attention if it wasn't on his terms. I've told them that in 2 years at nursery he made no friends; that without an adult to help scaffold conversation, he didn't know how to interact with his peers. They know all this, but can't get away from the idea that school is the best way to educate him. I wonder sometimes if they've actually met him!
Anyway, how do I deal with this? I do know they only have his best interests at heart, but boy, it gets tiring explaining our choices every time we see them. Do I just smile and nod, then come here and have a rant? Anyone else have any advice or experiences?
Are they aware of his autism? If that's all open and accepted (well done, you! That can be a challenge in itself with extended family), then I think I might take this tack:
Before he is ready for any kind of adult-led learning, or even adult-led activity, he needs to learn how to navigate the enormous noise of all his sensory overwhelm in order to interact successfully with other people. You can just keep him safe and happy and Hold Your Nerve while he figures it out, or you could invest in some sort of gentle play therapy to help you learn how to put yourselves in situations where he finds it easier to reach out and communicate. There are two main strands, as far as I can see. ABA style, which I have only a very vague understanding of, but as far as I know it is pretty pavlovian, and won't be compatible with a child-led home ed journey. Or else something like Greenspan floortime therapy, which is about learning the habit of focusing intensively on your child on their terms for 30 minutes a day, which helps both of you build communicative bridges. We did a few sessions of that, in our home, and several months apart, at exactly that age. It was so helpful. Expensive, but that's where grandparents waving money at you and wanting to help your child develop might actually be a bonus... ??
He needs to start learning that in life, sometimes we have to do and learn things we don't want to.
This was one of my initial concerns about HE. I also wondered if school prepares you better for the horrors of working life. However DH pointed out that we are both schooled and were completely unprepared for working life (I will spare you my rant on careers advisers lying to children for another day :D ) and that only working properly prepares you for working life ^^.
As for having to do things that you don't want to, life teaches you that, not school. I see that we are achieving this already and they are not school age yet - DC1 wants to run on to the next attraction at the zoo but DC2 and I are still watching the meerkats; DC2 has to put on clothes because convention dictates that we wear clothes in the supermarket; the DCs cannot have both parents at their group with them because I have to work; DC1 has to learn to put on his own shoes even though he hates it because I am not going to do it for him for the rest of his life - these are trivial examples now, but they will gradually get less trivial as they grow older, as they did for their schooled parents. We explain the reasons for the things we ask them to do, but that doesn't mean they don't have to do them. When they are bigger and we are with them less, life experience will teach them these lessons more harshly than we have, but there is no way, except perhaps if you are Paris Hilton, that you can get to adulthood without learning that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. It doesn't have anything to do with following a child-led or adult-led path to the academic bits of your learning.
Apologies for not getting back sooner; we've just had half term up here and not much chance for getting online in peace and quiet!
ommmward yes, they do accept his dx, or at least can see there are things he really struggles with. Though I'm pretty sure my in laws think he'll eventually "catch up" and all will be fine, just a misdiagnosis. My family are slightly better as dyslexia is rife on my side. They are all just very traditional in their views (of everything, not just education). School is just where learning happens, and that's that. And teachers always know best. And if the educational psychologist says mainstream is best, then there's no other option. They have no experience of home ed though, so nothing to compare to. I was trying to explain child-led learning to my DF at the weekend and he just didn't believe that, given the choice, a child would want to do anything other than sit watching cartoons! That was despite me telling him that DS is always asking to go to parks, swimming, museums etc.
I like your suggestion of using their offer to pay for something other than a tutor. I don't know why it hadn't crossed my mind before. I'm going to look into what might be good for DS. I will also look into floor play, thank you.
nigglenaggle I hadn't really thought that we are already teaching him that lesson. He has finally accepted that we have to wear shoes outside, even if our feet are a bit hot! Definitely something he doesn't want to do, but has to. I often have to remind myself that I've been home educating him since he was born, and that even everyday tasks have an educational value.
Check out ABA, intensive interaction, Floortime, growing minds, RDI, Speur Ghlan
If they're willing to pay for one of those (whichever floats your boat) then I'd definitely take them up on it!
When I was justifying being a SAHM with DD (now 3, has ASD, will HE) against a lot of opposition from the ILs I used to describe what we'd been doing with an educational spin. For example, this morning we've worked on PSE (interacted with us, living alas part of a family), verbal skills (she's not silent and neither are we!), PE (manual dexterity with play dough and picking up beads from a broken necklace, fitness climbing stairs to attic to supervise DH's DIY), IT (played on CBeebies app on my phone while I fed DS).
Later we'll do some literacy when I read her a book, and comprehension as she tells the story to DS afterwards. She's developed a fear of thunderstorms so we'll check the weather app on my phone later when the sun sets (IT, physical geography). She's asked where the sun goes at night so PSE as we take turns with the sun with people on the other side of the world.
I'm guessing "fuck off" isn't an option for you either?
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