Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why we Homeschool

Since I went off on a tangent rant about 'socialization' in an earlier post and Amy Bayliss said it so much better, I thought I should write about why we homeschool.

My husband and I married 'late'. We were not believers at the time and I was pregnant when we married. Shortly after our oldest was born we moved here and we knew no one and I thought nothing of how our little guy was coming along.

When he turned 18 months old we decided we needed to go to church. We wound up at a church literally across the street from where we were renting at the time. From the start I should have realized that Oldest has a special connection to God.

See, he would sit through the service with nary a peep until it came time for the choir to sing. At that point he would climb up on my or Dh's legs and conduct along with the director. In time. Like he knew what he was doing. He probably did.

I don't say this to brag - I am overwhelemed with the privledge God had given me through these kids. They amaze me on a daily basis.

As time went on homeschooling tugged at my heart. As Oldest grew closer to school age I started investigating it. Then Middle was born and we moved to our house and then Youngest came along. That was when we started to realize Oldest was not like the other kids.

I still remember the color of the carpet in the Doctors office when he told us he had to refer us to TEACCH because he wasn't qualified to make an autism diagnosis.

Autism? Huh? Somewhere in the distant part of my brain rang a bell about detached parents and we were not that at all. We were attachment parents all the way. Our son was affectionate.

Well I decided there was just no way I could homeschool a child with autism. I just wasn't equipped.

God doesn't call the equipped - He equips the called.

I am quite slow on the uptake and God knows this. Oldest started public school and it was rough - very very rough. First grade was marginally better thanks to a young energetic teacher who was determined to make it work. Second grade went downhill fast.

By the time Oldest entered third grade we knew that Middle was also on the autism spectrum. He was a very quiet anxious child. He did well in Pre K and K but first grade was just horrible. His inexperienced teacher - who was also short handed - could not handle the choas and an unchecked bully made things so bad Middle and Oldest (thanks to third grade year that might as well have not even been attempted) finished the year on homebound. I wanted to pull them out then. DH begged me to try another school. I agreed.

The boys started out well at this other school. The class sizes were smaller. Then things begin going downhill fast. We did everything - hours of IEP meetings, FBA's, BIPs that were never followed. I was so stressed out I went to the ER with chest pains at least three times. The school's number on the caller ID sent my blood pressure through the roof. I spent more time at school than I did at home.

Then it really all went to hades in a handbasket.

Oldest is hyposensitive. This was well documented in his school and medical charts. He had a supreme meltdown at school which resulted in him hitting two teachers, tearing up the library and stomping on the foot of the SRO officer. Despite the fact he tested positive for strep throat the next day he was petitioned to juvenile court.

Praise God we had a hearing before a juvenile probabtion officer who 'got' autism. She was shocked that Oldest was there for 'a manifestation of his disability.' (Her words, not mine) The charges were dropped.

Meanwhile Middle's stress levels were going up and up. I firmly believe he was being bullied (again - this no tolerance bully thing is a joke). He had a meltdown that resulted in him saying he wished he was dead. Despite the fact that it was not a credible threat of self harm, despite the fact that I call our family therapist the MINUTE I stepped out of the school, Despite the fact that the school had proper release forms signed and could have contacted the therapist themsevles if they indeed thought the treat was credible - they reported me to Social Services charging me with MEDICAL NEGLECT!

The Social worker was furious at the school - calling the complaint a waste of her time. (Rightly so, at the time both boys had a peditrician, a pediatric dentist, a neuropsychiatrist, an OT, a SLP (private) to say nothing of their community support workers.

Dh was so angry he couldn't talk. I was devastated. Even if the charges were without merit it was an attack on my parenting. I'd done everything but bleed for these kids - worked with the school and they did this to me?

They tried to say they were trying to get me help. I don't often throw brickbats at people expecting life savers but whatever. They made nary a peep when we pulled the kids out to homeschool them. They were glad to be rid of them if you ask me. And the feeling is quite mutual. In short order we realized that Youngest would also wind up with a label if he continued in public school. (This is the child who knew his letters and numbers at 3 and could read at age 4. Bored = hyperactive)

I am not saying there are not great public schools. I am not saying all kids should be homeschooled. But mine will not go back unless things change dramatically. And I don't think that they will.

Plus, we found we liked having the kids home. We found that it was easier to accomidate their special needs at home. Middle has Central Auditory Processing Disorder as well. School was too noisy and overhwelming for him. Oldest has a form of dyslexia and could barely read. Youngest has one whopper of an ADHHHHHD component to his autism. There are days I find him hard to teach. He would drive a teacher into retirement - easily.

And we like to learn along with them. We don't miss the mornings of dragging them out of bed, dreading phone calls all day long, hours of homework every night or spending outrageous amounts of money on the latest school fundraiser. We like seeing that light bulb go on.

So for us, for our family, it is the best choice. We do not think it's the right choice for every child or every family. All we ask is that others respect that it is the right choice for ours.

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