Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Don’t you know it’s important to have an education?

Don’t you know it’s important to have an education?
You are ruining your chances of getting a job.
Why don’t you have lessons?
It’s important to go to school.
You are ruining your life…

I swear if I hear these phrases one more time I will scream!

‘B’ belongs to several websites, some of which she plays on, others she chats on, like most kids her age. She has made friends with a few people but she has become very hesistant to mention that she is home-educated when they ask what she did at school, why she is up so late on a school night etc. etc. Why? Because as soon as she mentions it, she is bombarded with these types of questions or negative comments.

They simply won’t respect that everyone has a choice and this is our choice (note I said OUR choice). She has to justify why and how and what she is doing. Most seem to think she is ruining her life. They simply don’t get it…

Initially I pulled ‘B’ out of school because they clearly had no idea how to help children on the spectrum survive the school system, their so-called experts not having a clue about the intracacies of our children’s lives, trying with all their might to tick those precious boxes they love so much. But to be honest, the deeper I dug the more disillusioned I became with the whole education system, most of it based on targets and budgets. I wanted my child to be able to have her own opinion, I wanted her to feel she has some value to add to society instead of constantly being compared to her peers in terms of what they deemed as successful. I wanted her to be able to solve problems, to think outside the box, to learn through investigation and experience, to be able to understand the true function or importance of something in relation to the real world. I wanted her to be… well quite simply… herself!

These people get very angry with her because she doesn’t have traditional lessons. Her learning is embedded into activities, we have no need for lessons. They condemn her because she isn’t taking exams. She finds it all overwhelming… we never ask them to justify why they feel the need to go to school, doubtless if we did ask them, the reply would be something along the lines of ‘Because that’s what I’m told to do, that’s what we are meant to do.’ Some of them have turned quite nasty and been very unkind to her… she is neither stupid or idle!

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and that’s the premise we are working on… we didn’t go into this blindly, we know what we are doing. For example, she is only 12 but we have already put the wheels in motion for long-term work experience once she is 14 (health and safety rules). She has many ideas of her own how to secure self-employment, even at this age. I have faith in her, she isn’t going to rot on the heap, she knows it takes hard work and she’s willing to do it too. She also knows that to be successful isn’t dependent on how much you earn or what kind of house you live in or car you drive, it’s much more than that.

And to be honest, if you ask around, alot of home-educators, like myself, are teachers anyway. What does that say about the education system?


Till next time
‘B’s Mum

Saturday, 5 November 2011


Sorry, this blog post is going to take the form of a good old fashioned moan… I HATE this time of year and it’s because of one thing… FIREWORKS!

Why, oh why, do they have to be so loud?

We live literally a 3 minute walk from the beach and every year we have to endure various fireworks displays, one that takes place during the summer at the end of the annual Clifftop Gala. 2 years ago I found myself actually filing a complaint… the fireworks were sooo loud, everything shook – the dog, my daughter, the floors, the whole house! I’m not one to complain, not usually, but this was too much. The bangs were more like you imagine full-on explosions in a war zone would be like. ‘B’ was terrified and that was what prompted the complaint, I had never seen her so scared, she couldn’t stop shaking for hours, she was hysterical with fear.

Then you have Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night. Last night there were bangers and then ‘screamers’, lots and lots of them (supposedly the grand finale ’cos after that ‘burst’ it all stopped). The whole thing went on for the best part of an hour and a half of constant fireworks. You could smell the smoke from them in the garden, they were that close! Heaven only knows where they were being set off but they were way too close for comfort. Again I had ‘B’ in a right old state, shaking and in floods of tears.

I don’t have a problem with people enjoying themselves but it’s about time they were banned in built-up areas. My daughter can’t be the only one that gets distressed.

Fingers crossed it is raining cats and dogs tonight!

Til’ next time
‘B’s Mum

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Sheldon Moment…

For those of you familiar with the TV comedy The Big Bang Theory, you will get this post. For those of you who are not, I seriously recommend checking it out… it’s hilariously funny.

Recently walking around the supermarket with ‘B’ we discovered her favourite ready meal was not as it always is, the packaging had been revamped. I could see her eyes glazing over and in my head I was cursing the supermarket for changing the packaging, how dare they? Didn’t they realise the trouble they had caused? I tried to reassure her that the contents were the same, they had merely changed the packaging. ‘You’d better be right,’ she finally conceded, ‘OK I’ll try it.’ Mmmm… I thought, that was progress, a few years ago the mere hint of a change in the packaging would have caused great confusion followed closely by a Meltdown.

I sighed a huge sigh of relief and she smiled. ‘I’ve just realised,’ she said, ‘I just had a Sheldon moment!’ In a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, whilst sitting in one of their regular dining places, Sheldon discovers the menu has changed, the order of the foods swapped and some given new names. Not being able to cope with such a drastic change, he makes his friends leave to eat at another regular haunt instead.

They have never actually stated, to my knowledge anyway, that Sheldon has an Autistic Disorder, but we all think it must be so. As a family we have chuckled through many a situation that mirrors ‘B’s quirks, it has helped her alot actually – to lighten up and see the funnier side of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, we take her quirks seriously but sometimes there is such an unwillingness to see it from any other side than her own we get frustrated by her inflexibility. Watching this show has allowed her to view some situations from a different perspective and she can laugh about them.

For instance, Sheldon always has to sit in the same place, his cushion always being exactly as he needs it to be. ‘B’ is like that, she has her spot and doesn’t like anyone else ‘contaminating’ it. She likes routine, Sheldon and his friends sticking to the same day to go to the comic book shop etc. There are so many similarities that a Sheldon Moment is never far away now!

Oh and by the way, the ready meal was not the same… they had changed the recipe too. Didn’t say so on the packaging though! So, we now have to trawl the supermarkets for a replacement, that will have to be as good as the last one!

Till next time,
‘B’s Mum

Saturday, 25 June 2011


I have often said that with SID, as much as you like think that you finally have an issue under control, another will take it’s place and bite you in the ass! Today was one of those days. I have to say, we have been lucky, those times are fewer and further between than they used to be!

So what prompted this one? Earrings!!! ‘B’ has been adamant since she managed to get a new pair of earrings in, that only she is changing them. She has let me help her a couple of times and insisted that I hurt her. I tried explaining that it takes a little bit of practice to find where the hole is, anyone who has pierced ears will understand what I mean by this.

The last couple of days she has struggled to find the hole and has made it a little sore. Yesterday she couldn’t get one of them in but she would not let me help. Today was the same… We had to go pick her dad up from work and as is perfectly usual, we were running behind, she didn’t get up very early and was doing her usual ‘I’ll do it a minute and stop hassling me’ routine.

The main culprit was that damned earring. Do you think she would let me help? Could she make up her mind if she was staying at home whilst I went and got him? No… instead she dug her heels in and started getting angrier and angrier. Eventually she wanted me to do it, but wouldn’t let me within 6 feet of her. I asked her to wait until we got back, so we could go get her dad. No! That apparently wouldn’t make any difference?????!!!

I explained to her, that yes it would, because at least I wouldn’t have her dad having a go at me for being late, yet again! He gets grumpy… and then I have 2 of them on my case! I get it in the neck for her not being able to get out on time!

All I got in response was an increasingly angrier ‘B’ telling me it wasn’t her fault and to stop confusing her. I explained again, trying to keep calm, it’s quite simple… we need to go get your dad so the earrings will have to wait.

I was getting frustrated, she just refused to listen to the logic of the situation. In her brain, that earring took precedence over everything. The repercussions of being late and thus him being angry that we were late again were of no consequence.

I guess, she just pushed me too far. For once in my life, I would like to be on time for something. I am late for everything… I haven’t been too well lately and I guess I’m feeling a bit defeated, especially when after asking if she was finally ready, I was told in no uncertain terms how much she hated me!

Ouch! That hurt! Normally I wouldn’t let it get to me, I know it’s the frustration talking… and I’m ashamed to say I lost my temper. I get ratty and grumpy but I don’t actually lose my temper very often. So, I stomped down the stairs, slammed a door and fumed within. I didn’t say a word to her, she shouted at me for slamming the door, she screamed at me for making her do this, she cried and cried all the way there.

We got back and I went for a walk, I had to get some distance. I felt bad for losing my cool… I beat myself up over it. But then I thought, hang on a minute, should I feel so guilty? Am I not allowed, every once in a while, to get angry? ‘B’ doesn’t worry about losing it, her dad doesn’t worry about it!

If I was the kind of mum that ignored her child, that didn’t allow her child an opinion, that left her to fend for herself, that neglected her, that didn’t consider her feelings, that just didn’t care… but I bend over backwards and forwards and sometimes inside out to help my daughter and I’m only human, I’m not perfect, I’m just as flawed as the next person. I get it wrong sometimes… and today was just one of those days. And that, is think was the important bit of the whole thing… sometimes she expects too much of me!

When I got home we had a hug and an apology and everything is back to normal! Normal?????? That’s too funny…

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Ear we go again…

About 4 years ago ‘B’ wanted to have her ears pierced. We explained to the lady who pierced them that she was on the Spectrum and could she please smell the antiseptic wipes, show her the piercing equipment to be used etc. etc., which she was more than happy to do. It was all part of the process as those of you who have kids on the Spectrum only know too well. ‘B’ was very brave throughout the whole thing, even though she so wanted to do it, it was still terrifying for her. In fact she cried throughout the whole process, the piercer telling her she could have a special deal that day, half price, I am sure because she felt so sorry for her!

Anyway, the 6 weeks healing went by and we realised the basic flaw in our plan… having them pierced was one thing, getting the trainer earrings out, was entirely another situation, one we most certainly hadn’t anticipated!

Try as I might, and even though she understood the logic and implications of the whole thing, (which I think made it even worse for her because she got frustrated at her own illogical responses) we couldn’t get them out. About a year later they started to get infected and unfortunately I had to almost pin her to the ground, screaming her lungs out and yank them out. To her dismay they closed up almost immediately.

OK, so a couple of years went by, she told me she wanted to give it another try. We talked and talked and talked, her case being made stronger by the fact that she knew what to expect this time so it would be easier and she was 2 years older. To be fair, I could see her point…

Also, it was one of those things she was so determined to do, I think in hindsight she wanted to prove to herself she could be ‘normal’, do the same as her friends and it would all work out ok. So call me a fool, I eventually gave in.

She didn’t cry, in fact, she wanted to take them out after 2 weeks (but they hadn’t fully healed). I guess I should have let her…

Yesterday morning (almost a year and a half after the event), I was getting ready for work, she came downstairs very flustered and obviously upset. I only have two 2-hour classes a week and she had to go pick one of them to lose control! Turned out the earring had slipped into her ear… we had no choice, it had to come out, if I had left it and the weeping dried up it would have started to heal over and we would never get it out. She was so scared, stressed and hysterical that I couldn’t have taken her to her friends as normal when I work, I would have ended up having to go get her.

I’m surprised nobody called the police, the amount of screaming coming from our house… but eventually it came out. The other took the rest of the day to think about and an hour and a half of ‘practising’ late last night, thankfully that one eventually just popped off.

Have we learnt our lesson? We have agreed neither of us wants to go through that again… so fingers crossed we have.

Tonight is being spent trying to get a fresh pair in! Wish us luck…

Till next time
‘B’s Mum

Addendum: Took us several hours of ‘practising’ to get some new ones in but she wasn’t having it. The holes are closing up way too fast, she heals ridiculously quickly, so time is of the essence. It looks like we aren’t going to get any new ones in… boy, is she cross with herself!!!!!! She kept muttering ‘stupid ears, stupid holes, stupid SID!’ or words to that effect LOL!

OK, so just as I finished this addendum… ‘B’ walks in and says “Mum, I need to get new earrings in…”. So, we go off to my room, sit down and she just does it… SIMPLE OR WHAT? She’s now feeling rather silly for making such a fuss…

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Benjamin’s School

I just had to Blog about this project!


I never thought we would ever consider ‘B’ going back to school! Well, maybe that statement is not strictly true. I most certainly couldn’t envisage ‘B’ ever returning to conventional school. But we have just heard of a new type of school, a school that sounds like the stuff dreams are made of…

They call it an ‘out of the box’ approach (the ‘box’ being a classroom) and I have to say, from what we’ve read so far, ‘B’ seems keen enough to warrant a deeper look! And to be honest, I too am keen to get involved. This sort of project is just my kind of thing!

One thing ‘B’ has said to me recently is that although she has her best friend (also home-educated), it would be nice to have some more friends. Only thing is, ‘B’ tends to prefer older children, always has. Her best friend has said the same.

It seems to me that there are two basic types of home-educated families. Those that are happy to get together with other families and share resources etc. and those that really prefer to do their own thing and be left alone to do it. There is nothing wrong with either of these approaches… but it does make finding other families to connect with hard. In the 18 months or so we’ve been at home we’ve only really come across half a dozen families, if that, in our immediate area. There are definitely more families out there, but it looks like they are the ones that prefer anonymity.

So attending somewhere like Benjamin’s School could help on that level too!

The project is still in it’s infancy at the moment but we will watch closely to see how it unfolds. An project like this has so much potential!

Till next time
‘B’s Mum

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Stitch in Time…

‘B’ was offered the chance to have sewing lessons a few months back, an opportunity she grabbed with both hands and alot of enthusiasm. A friend has just set up a business, doing alterations, making clothes, crafts etc. She refuses to take payment so we are doing a nice exchange – I set her up with a website and designed her business cards etc. A lovely way to do business huh?

Turns out, ‘B’s a natural! Now armed with her own sewing machine and a whole houseload of fabric, there is no stopping her. In fact, she has her first craft fair on May Day!

I got her some business cards printed, so she can give away with any purchases (that’s optimism for you!), letting people know that any money she makes will ‘feed her habit’ and enable her to buy more fabric!

This is something we have discussed as a possible work opportunity for her when she’s older. I have said to her there are no rules that say you have to do only one thing for a living! I know, I am that person, juggling several different ‘strengths’ to make ends meet.

We are realistic, ‘B’ is never going to be able to hold down a typical 9-5 job. I swear she could sleep through an earthquake, nothing wakes her! ‘B’ dances to the rhythm of her own drum and that drum certainly doesn’t know about timekeeping! So, what better way for her to make a living than doing something she loves and something that won‘t require her to keep an eye on the clock.

So far she’s made bags, hanging hearts & squares, pencil cases, glasses pouches, a stuffed dog and now she is working on an apron…

It’s much better for her than sitting in front of a computer for hours, it keeps her busy and engaged and gives her great satisfaction when something is complete.

I’ll try and get her to photograph some of her creations… that’s another of her passions, photography! She’s starting photography lessons next week. Another friend is exchanging lessons for me teaching them Illustrator! She’s been taking photos for some time and has taken some lovely pictures, very arty stuff! But that’s another Post LOL!

Till next time,
‘B’s Mum

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Time Flies…

When we decided to pull ‘B’ out of mainstream education we had no idea how dramatically it would change our lives…

We pulled her out in September 2009, it was a tough decision to make and not one to be taken lightly. My husband wasn’t 100% on board with the idea but ultimately it was mine and ’B’s choice, we were the ones that were going to be doing the work. We were fortunate, in that the work I do (I am self-employed, doing several very different things and don’t have to work full time) made it possible for us to do this, if I had needed to be in full-time employment there would have been no way we could have even contemplated such a move.

I told my husband to trust me and if it didn’t work within a year we could revisit the situation and see what we would do next.

Not only did we have to think about her educational needs but also socialisation amongst many other things. I spent more than a few nights worrying whether we had made the right choice, it was such a responsibility. We found ourselves having to defend our decision to friends and family, who had their own opinions along the lines of ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing? This is her future, what about qualifications? Do you know how hard it is going to be?’. ‘B’ found her friends asking her constantly about what lessons she does, how long does she work, why doesn’t she have to write things down in books, what is home-ed etc etc etc.

On reflection, when she started nursery and even primary school, everyone commented on how smart she was, how much she knew about so many things, how good her communication skills were and that was down to us working together. I had done it then, so was this really any different?

Looking back, the energy I wasted trying to get the school to understand my daughter’s needs, seeing my daughter so stressed out that she wanted to die (yes, that did happen!), I can honestly say, hand on my heart, that if I had known how much it would change her life, I would have done it years ago. 

So how does the new ‘B’ compare to the old?

She is now a happy, confident, relaxed, outgoing, bubbly 12 year old who isn’t afraid to try new things and go new places. Gone are the meltdowns (we have only had one near-miss in 18 months). She hasn’t been sick once (she used to get sooo stressed, it would make her physically sick at least once a fortnight). In fact she hasn’t even been ill! She likes who she is now.

Her obsessive compulsive behaviour has eased dramatically, we only see it surface on rare occasions and then it is only minor compared to what it used to be. Her anxiety is much better too, she has learnt it is OK to let go and cry every once in a while instead of bottling up her frustration and stressing out. Even her SAD has dramatically improved, mostly because I think she is going with her own natural rhythm, going to bed when she’s tired, waking when she’s had enough sleep and now with puberty not far away her body is changing hormonally.

When we reached one year of home-ed I asked ‘B’ if she wanted to return to school and to my delight she said ‘No way!’. Even my husband agreed she was a different child and that we seemed to be doing OK!

Life is good for all of us right now. We are not planning on ‘B’ taking exams, she can do that when she’s ready and if she needs to to get a job in the field she wants to go into. At the moment we are concentrating on building her a skill set that will enable her to set herself up in business, general life skills, using her strengths and helping her identify and compensate for her weaknesses. We have no plans for her to ever go back to school (alot of people seemed to think we were only doing this temporarily for some strange reason)!

‘B’ still has SID, she will always have SID, I don’t believe there is a cure out there but our children CAN function perfectly well, we just have to help them find their own unique way of life…

Till next time
‘B’s Mum