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Stick with great school or home ed?

(11 Posts)
Asahai Sun 23-Apr-17 00:24:38

My DS is 6 & finds any kind of transition or direct instruction a big challenge. He has ASD, ODD & general anxiety diagnosis.
Preschool was a nightmare as they just didn't get it & we're using very old fashioned naughty chair tactics to deal with his behaviour. I work evenings so I had the luxury of deciding if his anxiety was high I just didn't send him & he only went at most 2 days most weeks.
He's now in his first year of primary so must go everyday - before he started I had a meeting followed by a letter from me about the strategies I have found best to help him with his challenges.
The school have been beyond amazing - they took everything I said on board & I can't quite believe every week the lengths they go to so he is included in everything. From the principal down, they really get him & they have facilitated him having genuine social time & real friendships (maybe partly as they have modelled such acceptance & understanding to his peers).
They put a lot of time & staff resources into aiding him.
He is quite bright & has teenage reading age & they also work to his level & provide lots of learning outside of the curriculum to his unusual for his age interests.
BUT!! Even though it is way beyond what I had even hoped for & I feel we are so so lucky to have such empathy he is miserable & totally stressed out & exhausted going in there everyday.
So many things he finds tough -the noise/ so many people/ the bells/ the itchy uniform/ smells/ the rules/ figuring out what people really mean/ repetition of the work/ close contact etc.
The Easter holiday really shone a light on this as he was so happy & relaxed.
He CAN do it & takes pride in it as he comes out some days delighted that he saw it through but in general it just is high anxiety & he comes home & either melts down & sleeps or just cried & cries.
I have to tailor everything else in our lives to get anxiety back low enough so to get him through the school door the next morning.
He was able to attend a 1 day workshop over the holidays & also could interact mostly 'normally' (for want of a better word!) when we met other children out & about & had a play date - I think that is in large due to the exposure- before he was under a table with his hands over ears.
My question is (finally - sorry for massive post!) do I remove him from best case scenario school wise to homeschool (unschool would probably suit him from what I've read so far)? I could cater to all his interests & confident enough could mostly manage the acedemic stuff (except anything to do with numbers!) till end of primary years (no confidence beyond!). But I have separated from husband & our relationship has totally wreaked my confidence & I am quite socially withdrawn & awkward myself these days (wasn't before - maybe a bit depressed). So not sure I am much of a role model for him.
I live in a rural area & only 3 other families homeschool but all have much older kids.
I also have a very sociable NT 3 year old who takes preschool in her stride but I'm sure would want to do the same as her brother if he was homeschooled).
Would love opinions. Should I bite the bullet & cater to his happiness or stick with a good thing when I was lucky enough to get it?

Saracen Sun 23-Apr-17 08:01:16

If you make a list of pros and cons, what does that look like?

Is your son's fabulous school oversubscribed? If you tried home ed and decided to send him back to school, would there be a place for him there?

BarbarianMum Sun 23-Apr-17 08:03:35

My instinct would be to take him out. It would also be fine to say "no" to your dd doing similar if you think nursery/school would be the best route for her.

But - forgive me for asking - would you be able to support yourself for 6 years whilst you home educate? Being very hard up is stressful in itself and will limit your options for enriching his HE experience. And, if you wouldn't be working for this period, finding a job later would be hard.

I think providing some level of socialization for your ds would be important but there are home ed groups in most places, or he may prefer engaging with like-minded adults depending on the nature of his interests. And it doesn't have to be every day unless he's very social by nature.

FWIW some children w autism enjoy school more as they get older and lessons become more structured and their classmates calmer.

Flexi schooling might be another possibility.

Piglet208 Sun 23-Apr-17 08:26:57

It is heartening to hear such a positive experience of school but heartbreaking that this leads to such high anxiety and stress. As a teacher I know that children with similar needs often cope gradually better as they get older as their learned responses increase. I suppose it is weighing up whether the increased anxiety now will be worth it as the exposure may lead to more adaptability in coping as he gets older. I'm sorry I can't give more advice but I wanted to say what a wonderful mum you are and it is very clear he could not have a better advocate.

Asahai Sun 23-Apr-17 22:08:02

Saracen it's just a village school & not oversubscribed as far as I'm aware - I'd need to find out but I imagine he could get back in again ok so I suppose it would take some pressure off by taking that in to account.
I think I'll do an ongoing pros & cons list over the next while to see how that balances.
BarbarianMum I hadn't considered just homeschooling one of them. Do you know anyone who does this & if it works? Can imagine a bit of jealousy over it.
Unfortunately flexischooling isn't an option with the school - that would be my ideal I think as a 3 day week would really suit him.
Thanks yes that's important about the work & financial side of things but I can do a lot of work from home & evenings so although I would take a hit it should be do able.
The few families who homeschool locally do meet regularly but the kids are older. They seem a nice bunch & all very alternative in all aspects of their lives. This sounds ridiculous but I'm much more mainstream & wonder if we would fit with their well established clique.
Thanks both to you & Piglet for pointing out that kids with similar issues tend to cope better in class as time goes on. I really need to take that into consideration too.
Piglet that summing up about weighing up whether the anxiety is worth it is really the crux of it.
I'm in awe of his teacher - I really don't know how you guys do it. I know how hard it can be trying to balance my sons needs with his sisters so can't comprehend fully what that must be like in a classroom full of kids! Thanks for the lovely comment - made me well up! I'm making mistakes daily but my son doesn't hold back in letting me know both what works & definitely what doesn'tgrin
Thank you all for giving me some new things to think about.

Msqueen33 Sun 23-Apr-17 22:19:27

Your school sound amazing. I've got two dds one in mainstream (7) and one about to go in September and they've nowhere near been as good. My dd struggles with school the noise, smells etc but it has done wonders for her socially. She suffers from huge levels of anxiety and it can be very awful hearing her upstairs at ten at night pottering and waking up at night as she's worried. Does he have any 1:1 support? Have you any specialist schools locally?

I'd probably persist a little longer. My dd is so much more relaxed during the holidays.

Asahai Sun 23-Apr-17 23:15:38

Yes Msqueen I can't believe how understanding they've been. The preschool really didn't & he spent a lot of time in the 'thinking' chair & they told me he was just naughty & made out I was just an overprotective mother by going for assessment. My expectations going into primary weren't high!
There's a unit within a mainstream which has good reputation but it's too far to commute. I had been considering moving closer before starting this school.
It's heartbreaking seeing your child having such worries & anxiety isn't it - this is supposed to be the fun time of their lives. That's good to hear you've seen that things have improved socially with school.

CaulkheadNorth Sun 23-Apr-17 23:24:07

What is your plan for secondary? Although I think HE sounds good, I wonder whether he would struggle more with the transition to a louder, bigger school along with the hormones at 11 if he hadn't been used to that environment for a while?

lizzyj4 Mon 24-Apr-17 09:32:43

Is flexischooling possible, or some kind of graded attendance where he gradually builds up to full--time over 6 - 12 months? The school does sound really supportive and it's not something I'd give up lightly.

I do think that if you take him out now, you'll have trouble getting him back in later on, because secondary school is much more challenging for children on the spectrum and he won't have any of the coping strategies in place that he would have developed if he'd been in primary for a few years. If you decide on HE now, you are probably looking at HE until he's 18.

Saracen Mon 24-Apr-17 11:04:24

"secondary school is much more challenging for children on the spectrum and he won't have any of the coping strategies in place that he would have developed if he'd been in primary for a few years. If you decide on HE now, you are probably looking at HE until he's 18."

I am pretty sure people's experiences with this vary tremendously. I don't have a child with autism, but I know some parents who say exactly the opposite: that the early years were hellish for their children at school, but a few years of home education gave them enough relief from that stress that they actually had the energy to develop coping strategies. And then starting secondary, or college, was okay - partly because they had a good basis to build on, and partly because the secondary environment was a better fit for their particular children than primary had been.

Asahai Tue 25-Apr-17 22:28:37

Calkhead it is definitely a big consideration- ideally my confidence & resources would have grown enough to have the choice to continue HE if he wanted.
lizzy unfortunately flexischooling not a possibility with his current school. The thought of HE not suiting me as time goes on but then him refusing to return to school is a fear. As is depriving him of a supported opputunity to build up confidence in (or resistance to!) social situations & possibly not being able to replace that adequately.
Sara I would really hope that's how it would work! I could see a snippet of that idea over the Easter break. He had been refusing to write anything since February & having lots of meltdowns around that in school. A few days into the holiday he was writing cards, writing me notes & made his own comic book of sorts with so much writing. It was like once the pressure was off it all flowed.
Thank you for your thoughts - it's so helpful for trying to weigh it up.

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