Yesterday was another brilliant and wonderful example of the wonders that is Radical Unschooling your neurodivergent child. So much so that I have come up with another Crazzy nickname…RadiCool Unschooling. Let me share with you the best parts of an ethos of respecting your little human being…
Yesterday was one of those Big days…gymnastics and then the home ed playgroup. PanKwake has always wanted to do gymnastics but the demand avoidance and/or ADHD meant that classes just were not for her. Then we came to Swansea and discovered our amazingly inclusive home ed group. And that they had an open play gymnastics every other Wednesday. PanKwake was in love…even before she met her best friend Pineapple there.
Then a few months later they added a second event…sort of a playgroup…but with some ‘classes’ or more structured activities. At first I thought…no way can PanKwake handle TWO activities in a single day! But we decided to give it a try for one of the parties. And she not only did really well…but she demanded more.
So now we make a day of it. Taxi to gymnastics…just about her limit as far as journey length. Then a short ride with whatever friend has extra space to the playgroup…sometimes stopping at McD’s for lunch. She stays as long as she likes and does whatever activities interests her with the playgroup. Then we almost always walk home…because she has had as much car-time as she can manage by then.
But we only do this when the stars align perfectly…i.e. when her sleep schedule permits. Today was on the edge. A case of could she or couldn’t she. So it began as it always should with RadiCool Unschooling…by asking her what she wanted.
She wanted to go…so then it became my job to make that happen for her.
First up…hygiene. It had been a couple of days since she washed and changed clothes. I had let it slide the day before with Chloe because it was not so bad yet. But I could not this time.
I took a new tactic though. When pushing and demanding did not work…I explained that while I would support her decision whatever it was…if she did not wash and change clothes then she might get bullied. No, I would not have abandoned her to that as an ‘I told you so’. I would have still supported her right to be safe…bullying is NEVER acceptable. I laid out her wipes and her special gymnastics outfit. And I walked out of the room. Ten minutes later she threw her dirty clothes over the edge of the stair rail.
And we were off.
First, the taxi ride…which is the very edge of her limit. She gets car sick easily…well motion sick in general…trains and boats too. Except of course for the wildest rides out there….those she can handle just fine. But a fifteen minute taxi journey at 40 mph…that has her asking…how much further? every two minutes. We were lucky…we had a really understanding driver AGAIN.
At gymnastics…she just ran off. But in the good way. She abandoned me. Even though Pineapple was not there yet…she was comfortable and confident enough to just do her thing. That still feels weird to me…in the best sort of way though.
I actually had the time to check in with MY friends. Especially Little Red, the daughter of friend, who is pretty much PanKwake Jr. Pathologically Adorable, PDA or not. I really do love these strong, intelligent free spirits. Even with their higher needs and demands, the meltdowns…the positives so much outweigh the challenges. In fact, I got PanKwake and Pineapple to team up with Little Red on building a parkour for a bit.
Then it was off to the next thing…lunch at McD’s…with three children. And the car rides that went with it. Oh, Pineapple and PanKwake went up and ordered their own desserts!
But it was at the playgroup that I stood in awe of my PanKwake. Pineapple wanted to do the sewing project. Something that PanKwake lacks the attention span and patience to do. I was not sure what was going to happen. But she took herself off and the iPad to the sensory room with Cookie Monster Jr (Pineapple’s little brother).
And when I checked up on her…PanKwake was holding court. She had half a dozen children gathered round her while she played. Explaining games to them. She told me later that she had even practised one of her ideas for YouTube…interactive content. She gave them choices of what game she played next…and let them vote.
How is that for social skills, folks?
All the while…I too was holding court…of sorts. Meeting new people, make friends and sharing ideas…which is what I love most.
Oh, and PanKwake even joined in on the final craft project to make her own dinosaur egg. It only took about 15 minutes…the limit of her attention span.
I do think everyone was a bit shocked and maybe even felt sorry for us at the end. It was raining and I asked our friend to give us a lift home. But after three cars rides already that day, PanKwake would rather ride home in her buggy in the cold, pouring rain than endure another 10 or 15 minutes in a car.
I realize most parents would not leave that choice with their child in that situation…but I understand the depths of PanKwake’s sensory issues and her need for control. If walking home in the rain was what it took to finish this day off as a success for my child…it was a small enough price to pay.
And yes I did pay the piper later that night when the cold and wet caused pain with my arthritis. But I will do it all again…in a couple of weeks…if PanKwake’s schedule allows.
Have I mentioned…
I love our Crazzy life on the beautiful autistic spectrum!
I love PanKwake’s Pathological Bu!!$^*t Avoidance!
I love my HAPPILY autistic daughter…just as she is!
And I so love RadiCool Unschooling that is shaping the confident young woman she is becoming…protecting her from bullies…and enabling her to learn, grow and make the right decisions for her.