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deschooling and the autistic family

Deschooling is a term used in the homeschool/unschooling community that means, essentially, getting out of the school mindset. No bells, no due dates, no school to prison pipeline, no teachers giving assignments, no PTA, no report cards. It's removing your child and family from the culture of school. They say it takes about a month for each year of homeschooling for a child to complete the deschooling process, and parents report that they continue to deschool themselves long into their homeschool journey. I have been homeschooling for 10 years. I am still deschooling myself.

Deschooling is very important when you have had an autistic child in school, who has had a traumatic experience. Whether it's being bullied by students, segregated by teachers, actual physical violence perpetrated on them, having their IEP ignored, or just not being able to keep up academically and socially, time is necessary to recover  from these scenarios. This goes for parents as well. Parents also exp…
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Halloween

Halloween is a bizarrely nostalgic holiday for me.
I have always loved Halloween.  As a kid I loved dressing up, I loved trick or treating, I have always had a fascination with the spooky stuff. I spent a lot of time as a kid reading about ghosts, hauntings, ESP, vampires.  But also, where I grew up, Halloween was a lot like Christmas in the sense that no matter who you were, or where you stood in the social hierarchy of your class or school, all the kids in the neighborhood took to the streets and trick or treated. All weirdness and social slights on Halloween were forgotten, especially if you had a cool costume. One year my dad made me a witches mask out of Plaster of Paris. It was the heaviest fucking thing, but everyone thought it was the coolest mask ever, and only my closest friends knew who I was.
 This Halloween comradery extended into my middle school years, when popular kids and dorks came together to storm the neighborhood.

I was a weird kid, I had a weird back story of a m…

When you're not the accommodation they are looking for

I wrote in a previous post that often times, I am the accommodation for my kids. I was feeling really cocky that day. So I would like to amend that statement. Often I am not the accommodation they are looking for. I have a lot to learn about the value of walking away.

My kids don't like to be man handled, they don't like to be told what to do, what to eat, what to wear. They showed up on the planet with their autonomy fully realized it seems, which can be challenging for me, because I have plans.

Not long range plans, I'm not grooming my kids too be doctors or lawyers on anything.  Little plans.  Reasonable plans. Like the kids are going to get up, have breakfast and then I am going to work on some paperwork, or we will meet up with a homeschool group, or whatever.

Our first battle of the day is breakfast. my kids have a lot of food autonomy. I have been a supporter of that from the beginning. I eat with my sensory needs and so do they. We have days when eggs are great, a…

redefining socialization

What do homeschooled kids and autistic kids have in common? Everybody and their damn brother is worried about their socialization.   The popular consensus is that kids learn how to socialize when they go to school. Unless they are autistic and then they learn to socialize by sitting in a room with a therapist and a drawer of stickers.  Because everyone knows that an autistic kid will do anything for a sticker, right?  So lets poke some holes in this socialization thing.

First, what is socialization? I mean really? Kids are taught to share, be inclusive, use their words, say something nice or don't say anything, how to work as a team.  This is considered socialization. It's all done in a test tube. A classroom, a therapists office. But then kids get out on the playground, or into the world, and shit gets real.  The world isn't a classroom, it's a wild unpredictable place, where people are going to behave in all sorts of ways that no one tells you about. Did your teacher…

why it's hard

I mentioned in my last post that homeschooling is hard, I thought I might expound on that a bit.
 As a person, I like to do things right.  When I got pregnant with my first child, I read all the books. In any job I have had, I have done my best to all know all the procedures and follow them to the letter, as a pet owner I read all the websites, I read directions, I follow recipes. There is a right way and a wrong way.  Best practices, blah, blah, blah. So when I started started homeschooling, I read all the blogs, compared philosophies and curriculums, and eventually ventured into homeschool groups where I could ask questions.

An important part of this story is that we didn't know when we started homeschooling that any of us was autistic. What I did know, is that things were unraveling.

I could not make my homeschool life look like the ones that I was seeing around me. While everyone else was doing projects, taking road trips, taking gymnastics and karate, I was trying to keep kid…

autism, unschooling, and life

I know there are many of us out there that have gone this path with our autistic kids, unschooling, self directed learning, inquiry based learning, trying not to drown in sensory hell learning.
 I think it's a new path. We are the first generation of diagnosed autistic families who said fuck it, we are not doing school, not doing every prescribed therapy, not doing ABA. Many of us parents who have made this decision are Autistic.
School was hard, traumatic, useless.  As kids we expended so much bandwidth drowning out the noise and trying to decipher the social code, that the actual amount of learning we did was debatable. We learned in the quiet minutes, when we could finally think. Autistic learning is uneven, in fits and starts, we had to teach ourselves. Often many of us didn't have a choice.

The opportunity to homeschool our kids is a luxury that many can't afford.  We are extremely lucky.  But honestly it's really hard.

As my 11 year old likes to say ( this is th…

when 6 has no color

We were taking about math. As unschoolers,  we don't do math, we talk about it. This isn't something that works out well in the rest of life, I suppose, but it works out with math. I think math is a fantastic thing to discuss, I think math stops being an inaccessible thing, just for geniuses, and starts being a real thing, when you talk about it. 

It's not really a normal conversation, like,
hey can you tell me what 2x12 is?
but more like
my favorite number is 6!
Sometimes someone can tell you why 6 is their favorite number, and sometimes they just say " I don't know, you're asking too many questions!"  then they glare at you.

 Really hard.

So this math conversation meandered around.  Someone reminded me about multiplying fractions, which pisses me off as much now as it did when I was 9 (fucking fractions!).   We had moved on to geometry when my 11 year old said,

"5 is yellow!"

What?

 13 year old flatly claimed "no it's not, it's re…