Good news: PanKwake went to bed before noon yesterday and slept until almost 10 last night. Ten or more hours of solid, recuperative sleep. So out of the woods with seizures and back on track with journey round the clock.
But before she went to sleep…we released our butterflies.
Then after she went to sleep…I released more of ties to traditional education…expectations of home ed. I gave away a bunch of the expensive readers and books that I had bought when we first began this journey. They were practically unused.
I began this home ed journey with certain expectations…a different paradigm. I invested loads of money in those books…money that we did not have at that time. Workbooks. Print outs. Field trips to museums. The works. I did lesson plans weekly. I paid for not one but three computer programs/curriculi.
And things got worse!
Without the peer pressure…the need to fit in…to be ‘normal’, PanKwake was not having any of my unrealistic demands. Not when she was struggling with night time seizures, mind-altering drugs, and complete sensory overload.
So I gave up. I told myself that she just needed more time to be a kid. After all, back home in America she would not even be in school yet. Education became a two-way street as we played in the park, grew our window garden, made lots and lots of art, and role-played.
I learned my child. I began to recognize her triggers…and how to soothe her.
And we waited…for the experts.
The whole time I kept telling myself that once I knew more about what was ‘wrong’ with my child…once the ‘experts’ gave me strategies…once PanKwake matured just a bit more…then we could come back to ALL that stuff. The books…worksheets…programs. And she would ‘catch-up’.
Then it came…the diagnosis…the Big A-word. Autism.
I had known since she was a toddler…in my Mommy’s heart. But to hear it from the ‘experts’?
I don’t know what I expected. Yes, I do. I expected help. I expected them to educate me. I expected resources. I got none of that. I got three or four sessions with a trainee psychologist…dealing strictly with her ‘hoarding’ behaviors. That was it.
I was on my own still. So I did what I always do…I helped myself…and my daughter. I educated myself. I tried and discarded strategies for autism.
And yes, I kept coming back to this stupid books and worksheets…I bought and tried new ones too. Something about throwing good money after bad.
I turned PanKwake off of reading. She did not want to even see a book. She would not allow me to read bedtime stories to her anymore. For a writer…and avid reader…it was the ultimate failure.
Even nine months ago when we moved…I had the chance to give those books to the wonderful community nursery that had been our refuge. But I could not. I could not release them…the dream that they represented. I kept thinking that ‘one day’ we will need them.
Like a tween is gonna want to read about Biff and some silly dog?
But dreams die hard! And opportunities are lost.
These last few months as we have settled into live, love, and laughter at #HomeCrazzyHome…I have come to accept some truths…
Radical Unschooling…computers…chats…those are the things that will eventually motivate PanKwake to become functionally literate.
Giving those books away was a symbolic acceptance of that. Wish I had done it sooner.
And especially hope that others who maybe struggling with imitating school can learn from my dime. Structure does not work for all children. Do what works best for your child!
Radical Unschooling is a viable option for some. Consider…