When you practice Self-Directed Learning, your role as parent-teacher is vastly different. There are no lesson plans. No, pushing them to do their work. And no teaching, really. Your role is more as a resource they can come to with questions and to provide them with the resources they need to succeed.
As the parent of a neurodivergent person, one of the biggest resources that we have needed to provide @PanKwake access to is sensory toys. #ActuallyAutistic people do not process the input from their senses in the same manner as neurotypical people. Sounds can be louder (this is one my super autistic powers). Smells stronger. And in @PanKwake’s case her sense of touch is super hyperactive. Even water on her skin can send her into major sensory overload.
Sensory toys are one way of self-soothing during sensory overload, meltdown, or shut downs. But they can be a major expense as well. We have spent thousands. Yes, thousands of pounds over the years on sensory toys. Everything to squeaky toys to spinning light things to fidget cubes to air fresheners. We have boxes upon boxes of them. Heck, we have even designated and decorated two rooms in our house as ‘sensory rooms.’
And there is no doubt in my mind or @PanKwake’s that they work. We never leave our @HomeCrazzyHome without packing a bag of them. She has close to a dozen in easy reach of her computer and bed. The moment she begins to feel stressed she reaches for them. As a result, I can’t remember the last time she had a meltdown.
But the problem is…
You never know until you have spent the money if a certain toy will be one that works.
That’s no problem for some of the things that can be picked up at the pound store or charity shop. But for some things, it can be an expensive ‘mistake.’
I was happy the other day to learn of a new FaceBook group that seeks to make things a bit easier, not just for #HomeEd families, but all parents of neurodivergent young people. Sensory Seconds offers parents a place to sale, trade, buy, or give away sensory toys.
I spoke to @PanKwake this morning and we will be collecting and posting items for other families to enjoy. So, if you, your child, or someone you care about is neurodivergent, autistic, or has sensory processing disorder, I encourage you to join the group.
Tomorrow and for the next couple of days, I will be showing you some other resources that we have found essential for helping @PanKwake to become a high self-monitor and self-regulator of her emotions.
And if you’re wondering what that has to do with #HomeEducation? Everything. If you are in sensory overload, it is not possible to learn. Which is another reason why home education works so well for many neurodivergent young people. It is much easier to create a quieter, lower lighting, and less sensory intense environment in the home than it is in a school.