Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Struggles of Being 13 and Having ASD

It seems that my son is in a phase of self-doubt, which is typical for his age but very much amplified by his Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I was talking to my 24-year-old son about it and he said that he wouldn't go back to that age for anything.  I told him that it didn't seem so intense with him and he said that he just kept it inside.  That seems to be the crux of the matter, my younger son says his feelings are 'on the outside' and he feels helpless to them.  As normal as that is for his age, when you throw in the fact that his executive function pretty much shuts down when he's stressed beyond a certain point, that helplessness can be crippling.

The fact that he cycles so strongly through feelings of doubt and negativity and back again is really affecting our homeschooling.  Sometimes he gets so upset and hopeless that he just gives up without even trying and it's really hard to keep coming up with new ways to encourage and support him.  We've been going to counseling as a family and talking about why he's so resistant and what strategies could help him and it's been quite illuminating.  For example, this week he told our therapist that he knows that if he pushes back hard enough he won't have to do as much work and I'll relent and give him his privileges.  He didn't say it smugly, he actually said it with some shame.  Many of the discussions we have in that office show me just how noisy and confusing it can be in his mind and it's also become much clearer that my husband's mind works much the same way.  I don't blame my husband in any way for my son's autism, I mention that they think alike because that realization has helped me to be more understanding toward my husband.

My son has become very resistant to doing any kind of writing and I'm trying multiple strategies to help him through that struggle.  I have him doing copywork and I'm going to narrate a game on Storium, a role-playing website, for him and three of his friends from the Javascript programming class my husband has been teaching.  He's excited about it and I'm going to combine him dictating to me with him typing some himself, in the hopes that it will help him to express his creativity and realize just how much he has to offer if he can overcome his fear of writing.

Dealing with his feelings of being an outcast is another ongoing struggle, and it's become clear that that's a big part of his resistance to dance classes this year.  The last couple of weeks he's come out of class quiet and sullen and has broken down within minutes of us leaving the dance studio, heartbroken because the girls in his class either ignore him or snark at him.  I'm hoping that lots of gentle reminders that girls don't know what to do with boys his age, let alone boys who are emotional and caring like he is, will help him to come to terms with the difficulties of social interaction with his peers.

I'd love to hear how others deal with the rocky terrain of a teenager with ASD!

It's Been a Month?!

My, how time flies!  It doesn't feel like it's been a month since I last posted, but I often find myself forgetting what day of the week it is here lately because they're either flying by or crawling at the speed of tectonic plate shifts, so that's not surprising.

My son is settling into his schedule.  The only day he doesn't have an activity is Wednesday and I think he really enjoys not having to leave the house that day, even if he complains about having online work to do.  I'm happy with the variety of activities I found for him to do, there's been very little one-on-one tension between him and I so it's much easier for him to approach me for help and for me to give work the energy it needs.  I'm not quite there, but it's getting a little better every week and that's the best I can hope for.

He's happy with his karate class, a dojo closed in our sleepy rural town so the man who teaches the class in a space above a racquetball court has gained some new students.  Before this year there's only been one boy older than my son and he quit three years ago, so it's been more of a mentoring situation where my son's helping the younger kids.  He loves doing that, but I think it's good that there's an influx of older kids making things a bit more challenging.

Dance class hasn't gone so smoothly.  He pushed back very hard about being embarrassed by dance class, at which point I asked him if he'd stopped enjoying dance and he said no, so we've had more than one interesting conversation about how much he's willing to let other people's opinions decide what he is and isn't going to engage in.  It's interesting to watch him think about all of the ways people let others make their decisions for them.

Note:  I really need to remember to post things, this one's been sitting in 'draft' mode for quite a while.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Year has Begun

Clearly I'm going to have to work on scheduling time for this blog. :)

We didn't officially start 'schooling' until this week.  Like last year it's going to be a fair bit of driving around, but I think we have a wonderful schedule in place and that will be a great opportunity to listen to podcasts.  We got a wonderful surprise when the family that hosted the singing group my son really enjoyed last year decided to do a homeschool group at the library in Charlottesville.  There are three sessions, writing, geography/history, and math, as well as an opportunity for him to go to lunch with the other kids without me there.  I asked him if he wanted me to go and he said no, so I stayed behind and amused myself while he went on his first 'lunch on the mall' excursion.

The mother of the family offering the group is a published author as well as a warm, caring person and is teaching writing, although what she's really doing is trying to see what the kids are interested in and going along with that.  Her partner is a clever, witty guy who owns his own business and is a history buff, so he's going to teach the geography/history session.  For math they're having a math tutor come in and for $5/week the kids can bring their work and get some coaching.  The focus is on the kids figuring out what they want to learn, as opposed to having to follow some kind of structure or curriculum.  My son is pretty intimidated by the idea of directing his own education after being pretty thoroughly indoctrinated to follow what others tell him he should learn, so I don't know how this is going to work for him, but I'm really happy that he's getting exposure to child-led learning.  He's pretty resistant and anxious when it comes to things that he could possibly fail at, even with constant assurance that there isn't really any failure in homeschooling because we can do whatever he needs to do to learn.  I sat in with him at his request and I got to help by going down and getting pages for the kids to do blackout poetry.  The library has a desk set up with loose book pages and a black sharpie and the librarian I spoke with was happy to go find six sharpies for me to bring back up to our little room along with a handful of loose pages from The Minotaur Garden, which I've never heard of.  What fun!  I did some blackout poetry with my son last year on Poetry Day so he knew what it was, but he was too anxious to participate, so I brought up a blackout poetry website and he read some and enjoyed himself.  At times like that my heart aches as I watch him struggle to do what the others do, to engage in things he's intimidated by, and it takes a LOT of effort to be quiet and present but not try to save him.  The kids shared their poems at the end and the lady leading the class is so wonderfully supportive and gentle, it feels really good to know that my son would be alright in that session about something that he's so anxious about and I'd have no worry at all about how she would handle him.

I'll talk more about the math and geography/history sessions in future posts.

On the curriculum front, decisions were finally made!  For language arts he'll use Time4Learning, for science he'll use Uzinggo, for math my husband went with Thinkwell math and my son seems to really enjoy it's format, and for history we're going to wait and see what the library group does and then I'll put something additional together if necessary.  My son loves history and has a lot of natural curiosity about it so I'm not concerned about him not having a curriculum to follow.  Looking at the syllabus for the public school this year it looks like eighth grade is mostly about test preparation, so we have an opportunity to let him test his child-led learning sea legs.  He's also doing karate, tap and modern dance classes, and my husband is leading a Programming in Minecraft with Javascript class, not to mention the pragmatic skills class my son has done for four years, including summer programs.  There's also a homeschool group that I've become the leader of all of a sudden and another group where he's taking two classes that started last week.  He was happy and tired when I picked him up, which is the best I could have hoped for!  It's a packed schedule to be sure, but I have high hopes for it being engaging and really good for my son.  I really want to see his desire to learn and his confidence in his ability to do so rekindled.

On the anxiety front things have been pretty intense.  I've talked to him a great deal about getting to the cause of his anxiety and beginning to think about managing his reactions instead of feeling like a victim of them.  He frequently says that he wishes his feelings weren't on the outside and I do my best to validate his feelings and reassure him that there are worse ways to be and there are plenty of kids who are in the same boat.  I squeezed a visit to an observatory late one night for their public night and that turned out to be an excellent investment of time and well worth him being up until almost midnight.  He was so excited about looking at the moon through a 129 year old telescope and I have to say that I was just as excited as he was!  There were also two smaller telescopes set up, pointed at the Ring Nebula and a set of stars, one blue and one yellow, that appear to be one star to the naked eye observer but are actually two stars that orbit each other.  I've emailed someone at the Observatory to see if I can find out the name, I can't remember it and didn't write it down.  I hope to get to the public nights as often as I can, we had a great time!

That's all for now, I hope everyone's school year is off to a great start!

Article about Blackout Poetry - The article that introduced me to blackout poetry. - Blackout Poetry website.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Math Curriculum, Meltdown, and Our NOI

After much consideration, the choices were made for history and language arts (Time4Learning), science (Uzinggo), and vocabulary enhancement (Words and Their Stories), but my husband was waffling on math.  He's going to be doing a very focused program with our son because he's so convinced that he's terrible at math, so he's making the final decision about the math curriculum.  We know what doesn't work, Time4Learning and Uzinggo, not because they're bad but because they only offer one way to solve problems.  Little things like insisting that he use subtraction instead of adding a negative number really get under my son's skin and it isn't long before that frustration escalates to refusal and self-doubt, which then leads down the rabbit hole of anxiety.  In an effort to avoid that path, my husband is going to do math with my son on Sunday afternoons when they can sit down and do all of it together and frustrations can be nipped in the bud before they blossom into anything further.  He's going to try out the free trial of ThinkWell in the hopes that it will work for us.

An important lesson from last year is that we need to focus more on setting time aside to sit with my son while he works, at least until he gets into the swing of things, and probably afterward as well.  Last night he had a meltdown because he was worrying about homeschooling and in complete despair that he doesn't know what he's going to do with his life.  He remembers the days of his youth when he thought anything was possible and says that he realizes now that the world is just too big and scary.  When he spirals into such hopelessness and despair it's really hard for me to commiserate instead of telling him he's wrong, but we got through that meltdown and came out the other side with minimal after-effects.  Sometimes he can be off for a day or two after a big meltdown and falls back into that state much easier if we aren't careful.  Today he woke up unhappy that we had to leave the house, he really wanted to stay home, but he pulled it together and we did what we needed to do with minimal fussing.  It helps that he's totally immersed in listening to the audiobook of Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, one of our family's very favorite authors.

Wee Free Men is not only hilarious, it handles issues that are pretty mature for a teen reader, and we've listened to it before in the car but it's been long enough that it's like new.  There are actually four books in the series that begins with Wee Free Men, the next of which is Hat Full of Sky, then Wintersmith, and finally I Shall Wear Midnight.  In getting the link for this post I discovered that there will be a fifth book in the series!  Terry Pratchett has been a prolific writer and I could go on and on about how much I love his work and which are my favorites, but I'll spare you (unless you'd like to know, if anyone asks I'll do so in the comments).  Listening to a great book seemed to be just what he needed to pick up his mood and we had a really good day.  This evening I told him how much he's maturing and that I noticed that he did what he needed to do to pull himself out of his funk and he smiled and thanked me for noticing.

When he melted down he was sobbing about how much he wished he was normal and it was very hard not to burst into tears, at times like that I sometimes struggle to keep my own optimism intact and can easily fall into listing all of the reasons normal doesn't matter, but what he really needed was for me to commiserate about how bad he was feeling and acknowledgement that sometimes things feel really huge and overwhelming and hopeless.  He sobbed for a few minutes and I hugged him, which reminded me how much he's grown because he's taller than I am, and then we were able to have a quiet conversation about the value of people who aren't considered normal and how boring the world would be if everyone was the same.  I'm going to do some work on optimism as part of his curriculum because I think he inherited his father's pragmatism, which can easily slip into pessimism, which my husband labels 'realism'.  A very wise man we know said that while 'realism' can feel safe and true, it doesn't allow room to experience things like joy or beauty, and I do my best to remind my son of that on the other side of times like these.

On another note, I'll be turning in our Notice of Intent (NOI) tomorrow or Wednesday, since it has to be turned in by the 15th.  There's great information about such things at the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers.


Time4Learning - History and Language Arts

Uzinggo - Science

Words and Their Stories - Vocabulary Enhancement

ThinkWell Homeschool - They offer a seven day trial.

Terry Pratchett - A favorite author of our entire family.

Organization of Virginia Homeschooler's Information About NOI

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wrap Up Report: TACO

TACO camp was a resounding success, which is no surprise to me.  My son LOVES horses and this year they rode bareback with surcingles and saddle pads instead of saddles, which means he was essentially riding bareback.  Due to insurance requirements the kids have side-walkers (someone walking on both sides of them with their hands hooked in the loops of a belt around the rider's waist), but I wondered if my son would find it too challenging and struggle or give up, neither of which would have been outside of the norm for him.  That doesn't mean that I let him stop trying when he has those reactions, just that when he gets overwhelmed or isn't immediately successful he can have a pretty strong negative reaction.  As far as I know that didn't happen, he seemed even more proud of himself for riding without a saddle.

On the last day of camp they have a horse show where the kids get to ride for the parents and my son's obvious joy the entire time he was on Herbie, a sweet Haflinger gelding, almost brought me to tears.  That's not an exaggeration, I had to take a couple of deep breaths and work at not tearing up.  Between the teen angst and the frustration of trying to deal with a world that can overwhelm him, my son doesn't seem to experience outright joy very often.  He got to trot twice and both times he sat straight and proud, his eyes on my husband and I, making sure that we saw his accomplishment.  I saw it alright, I also saw that I need to figure out how to come up with the money to get him on a horse more often.

While we were waiting for the kids to finish posing for the group picture one of the volunteers came over and talked to us, gushing about how sweet and willing my son is and how much he loves horses.  Her husband was one of his side-walkers and she told me that he thinks my son could easily ride without side-walkers.  One of the horse owners told me that last year too and I know it's true.  We had a really bad experience with a horse camp when my son was eight so I'm pretty skittish about trusting others to handle my son's challenges in a caring manner.  That camp included him falling off and getting back on, which is an important part of riding, but it also included the two horse moms who worked with the kids during the camp mocking him and belittling him when he got overwhelmed.  The lady who owns the farm was wonderful and she was sweet to him, but he spent the majority of his time with the two moms who seemed to amuse themselves at his expense.  When things like that happen I get the dreaded 'bad mom' feeling, which includes self recriminations about not protecting him from people who won't preserve his fragile self esteem.  I'm not a fan of the self esteem programs the public school system is rife with, but I now realize how prophetic the first doctor to give the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder's statement was, "He's more than smart enough to handle the academics of school, your challenge will be getting him through childhood emotionally intact."  The reality of that observation is what led me to start homeschooling last year, as a matter of fact, I saw my son slipping further and further away from being 'emotionally intact'.

Oh dear, I'm rambling again, aren't I? :)

At the end of the show I was talking to one of the other moms and she told me about a place about 45 minutes away where her son, who has a diagnosis similar to my son's, takes riding lessons.  As a matter of fact, she likes the lady who gives lessons so much that she signed up for lessons herself, which is a pretty strong endorsement!  I'm going to look into it and do my best to scrape up the necessary funds.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Movie and a Planning Meeting

Today was the last day of Regal Cinemas Summer Express program, which showed two different kids' movies at 10AM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all summer.  We couldn't go on Wednesdays so we saw one of the two movies for eight weeks and we got in free this week because if you attended at least one of the two days the first eight weeks, the last week was free.  Today we saw Mr. Sherman and Peabody and my husband joined us and we all loved it.  My son laughed out loud quite a few times, which is becoming more and more rare as he grows up.  I enjoyed that sound every bit as much as I enjoyed the movie.

Afterward I went to a meeting about planning this school year's activities for a homeschool group we attended last year.  This year I'm helping with the planning and doing some of the teaching.  I'm excited about this year, even if I'm nervous too.  I've taught for homeschoolers before but it's very different from teaching to adults, which I've done for the last sixteen years.  That comes to an end this week so it's a bit ironic that I'm about to start teaching kids.

Nothing new to report about curriculums, I've looked at the offerings on the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op a time or two.  So far I've resisted the urge to buy more materials when I'm not sure that I don't have everything I need.  It's a battle sometimes, though, my inclination is that more is better.  I want to give him everything, to feed that mind of his everything I can get my hands on, but I temper that desire with logic; he needs to be part of the conversation too and I don't want to smother him with a constant stream of new materials.

What curriculum/materials are you planning to use this year?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange

I've been a bit scattered after a major change at work and normally my stress doesn't impact my son, but today it almost did.  Somehow I completely forgot that the Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange (TACO) started today.  My son loves that camp, he's happier and more animated when I pick him up than I see him just about any other time.  I've been parenting a child with ASD for many, many years and most of the time I can juggle everything I need to juggle, but sometimes things get overwhelming and it's hard not to beat myself up over it.  I wonder if that happens to all parents of special needs kids?  After I dropped him off at camp I gave myself a pep talk about forgiveness and self care, but I wanted to mention that it happened because I think it's important to recognize your flaws, own them, and then move on... which is code for thinking I have to be perfect. :)

We don't have to be perfect, we just have to do our best.

I've made no progress with curriculum selection, but we still have time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Planting Seeds

Today my son and I were in the car for a long drive and I took the opportunity to talk to him about his homeschooling this year.  I really struggle with knowing how hard to push him because he's very bright and quite capable of taking advantage of situations to get out of doing things that are uncomfortable.  Since the first time he tried to say, "I can't because I'm autistic!", I've responded with, "You have the wrong mom to get away with that excuse, having ASD just means that you'll have to learn different coping mechanisms than neurotypical people."  Through fifth grade I was fairly confident in my ability to advocate for him and support him in learning those coping mechanisms, but sixth grade threw me into a whirlwind of self-doubt and an undercurrent of fear that I would get it wrong.  Over and over again I read that early intervention is the best way to help them but my son was high functioning so he wasn't eligible for much at all.  We pieced together what we could on our own, but it hasn't exactly been a smooth, well-lit path.

Today I talked to him about wanting him to have some input into his education and that he's only thirteen so he doesn't have to have it all figured out any time soon and he suddenly burst out with an emotion-laden confession that he's terrified of how big and intimidating the world is and he feels like he has to know exactly what path to take at all times.  When things like that happen I have a lot of reactions, but I know that I have to focus on him and gently help him explore what's scaring him.  It was a big surprise to me to learn that he had so much fear around his future following sixth grade and the constant feeling of failure, even though he didn't actually fail any of his classes.  There have been a handful of times when he's done things like this, had sudden clarity and shared it in a panicky, frightened tone of voice that could at any moment lead to him bursting into tears.  At those times I feel like he's so fragile, in those moments of clarity about what's really behind his reactions to things in his life.  He despises feeling fragile, he seems to think that people should never feel that way and it's some kind of failing on his part, so my first priority is to commiserate with him and reassure him that what he's feeling is perfectly normal.  Hormones don't help the situation, the poor kid went from being barely five feet tall to being within a hair of six feet tall in a matter of months and some days I can feel the waves of testosterone coming off him, at which point I encourage him to do something physical like run around with his dog outside.

Hmmm... I can see that I'm going to have work on focus when I'm writing posts. :)

Anyway, I felt like we had a great conversation where I set up some expectations for him and I'm hoping that soon he and I will sit down and develop a schedule of his major activities and choose exactly which curriculums he wants to follow.  Next week he's going to the Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange (TACO) so we'll just be focused on what a great time has there, but maybe the following weekend we'll get started.  He's been doing karate and dance classes since he was six years old but he takes a break in the summer, so I think that getting back to that in the next month or so when they start back up will help to dissipate some of the hormone cloud as well.  Currently it looks like we're going to use time4learning for language classes and possibly math, uzinggo for science, and I'll put things together for him for history, probably from Big History and the Discovery Streaming subscription I bought from the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op, as well as the small library of critical thinking books I have from the Critical Thinking Company (I think they used to be called the Critical Thinking Press).  We'll likely continue using Words and Their Stories because he likes the fact that it's like playing a game, we'll continue to go to Library Love, a small homeschool group that meets in Greene County, and I want to sign him up for a class at the Community Homeschool Enrichment Center (CHEC).  He's also signed up for two classes at Minecraft Homeschool, one about history and one about developing a presentation, and he's very excited about that.  I heard about it on my favorite homeschooling podcast, Savvy Homeschool Moms, which I encourage you to check out.  It's hard to find secular resources and I'm grateful for them!  I'll put links to everything I've referenced at the end of this post and will add a list of important links somewhere on the blog soon, I just haven't decided exactly where to put it.  Most of the resources I mentioned have a Facebook presence as well but I'm only on FB sporadically so I don't follow them there.

Also, if you're on Facebook, there's an excellent resource called the Autism Discussion Page run by Bill Nasons (I think that's spelled correctly) and I encourage anyone dealing with ASD to check it out.  He's about to publish the wisdom it contains so far in two books and I can't wait to buy them.  It's challenging for me to measure how much pressure to put on my son and that FB page is a constant reminder that that's a challenge for everyone raising or working with ASD kids and that I can only do my best and stop expecting perfection.  I can't tell you how often I need to hear that!

I hope everyone has a great weekend, I'm going to take a mini-vacation sanity break and stay at a hotel about forty minutes away Saturday night.  My husband and son will go to a birdwatching club meeting Saturday and I'm sure they'll spend many hours working on the Minecraft server my husband set up for a possible "Programming in Javascript Using Minecraft" (or something along those lines) class he's thinking about offering to local kids Ben's age.  I'm really hoping he does it, it's important to me that we contribute to the homeschooling community however we can.


Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange (TACO) - A wonderful day camp that has spring and fall days too that's geared toward kids with special needs.  He enjoys it so much and I think it helps him to be around people who are less functional than he is for whatever reason so he doesn't fall into the pit of feeling sorry for himself, as well as gaining the joy that comes from helping others.

Karate in Orange - Spike Richards teaches a class at the Racquetball Club.  He doesn't have a website but he can be contacted by email if you're interested. 

Dance Classes in Gordonsville - Brushwood School of Dance - He's taking Tap 2 and Modern 2 this year and I can't say enough about how wonderful Pam Brushwood and all of her teachers are!

Time4Learning - I like the similarity to school because I think it made him more secure, but the challenges of online classes can be difficult to overcome.  My ID on the forum is HSandASD.

Uzinggo - This site has better quality videos and my son LOVED the science class, but the limitations of learning online in a very linear way made the math class really difficult for him so we ended up having to work through it together much of the time.  He doesn't want to do the math again but is excited about doing more of their science.

Big History - My son really enjoys history and I found this late last year but haven't really dug through it yet.  I'm hoping to use some of it this year.

Discovery Education Streaming subscription purchased from Homeschool Buyer's Co-op (link to deal on the co-op) -This is an amazing resource from what I can tell, I just need to find the time to explore the whole thing.  The Homeschool Buyer's Co-op is wonderful and we've found great deals there!

Critical Thinking Co. - A great resource for materials that focus on teaching and encouraging critical thinking, something that seems to be sorely lacking in the public education system, in my opinion.

Words and Their Stories - A great vocabulary builder from FableVision, a company I like a great deal.

Homeschool group that meets in Greene County - Library Love - This is a small group we attended last year and the website is brand new so there isn't much there yet, but I'm helping with the organization of the group this year and will update the website once the schedule is solidified.

Homeschool Classes held in Charlottesville - Community Homeschool Enrichment Center - I've heard great things about this Center and the list of classes looks great, so I'm hoping to get my son into a class or two this fall.

Minecraft Homeschool - My son is really excited about the classes he's signed up for, we'll see how it goes.

Savvy Homeschool Moms - A wonderful secular podcast by two homeschooling moms.  It never fails to make me laugh and they have great interviews and product reviews too.

Autism Discussion Page on Facebook - An excellent resource, I can't wait to buy the accompanying books!

Birdwatching Club held in Charlottesville and surrounding counties - Blue Ridge Young Birders Club (BRYBC) - A wonderful group for pre-teens/teens who love birdwatching.  The group is run by the kids and Ben really enjoys the monthly meetings and occasional field trips.  There are quite a few homeschool kids in the group too.

The Beginning

Over the last weeks I've had the thought, "I wonder what curriculum other parents use with their ASD kids?", so many times that I decided to act and open a dialogue.  I'm on numerous homeschooling email lists and a couple of autism email lists and sadly haven't been able to find anyone who's homeschooling an eighth grade boy.  I gave up hope of finding anyone nearby early last year.

My son was diagnosed between kindergarten and first grade and has been to four different doctors/facilities and had three different diagnoses.  Like so many kids on the Spectrum, he's not easy to label, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  He attended public school through sixth grade and things were pretty good through fifth grade, but sixth grade was a disaster.  If someone had told me that my curious, bright son would go from wanting to earn two PHD's to believing that he's two stupid to attend community college over the course of one school year I'd have said they were crazy, but that's exactly what happened.  In one year his curiosity was snuffed out and replaced by raging self-doubt and a healthy dose of apathy.  I didn't even send him to school the last week of sixth grade because most of it was 'fun' activities, which were torture for my poor boy.  I could list all of the reasons and I'm sure that I'll share them all over the course of this blog, but tonight I just want to focus on how we got where we are and where we're headed.

Last year I used online curricula for the main subjects and supplemented with Words and Their Stories and various other snippets from the small library of homeschool books I have from homeschooling my older son through middle school.  He's neurotypical and had a rocky schooling road of his own for different reasons, but I kept all of the materials from his schooling so I have a selection of books from the Critical Thinking Press and other resources.  It's hard to describe how disturbing it was to see how twisted my son's experience of learning had become over sixth grade and I found myself focused much more on helping him regain some pleasure from learning than on academic achievement for at least the first half of the academic year.  He'd always been curious and happy to learn, but all of the pressure and teasing and bullying turned learning into something stressful and knowledge into something to be ashamed of, so it took a lot of undoing.  I say that as if it's completely undone and it's not, in all honesty I worry that there's damage that can't be repaired.  He's still convinced he's unintelligent after a successful year of homeschooling and earning good grades, which breaks my heart every time I see the signs.

I'm writing this blog to share our story, to hold myself accountable, and to offer support to others who are walking this same path, because I know that I could surely use some resources!  Feel free to join me, I'm happy for any constructive criticism or shared experiences.  Comments are moderated because I'm not interested in dealing with negativity and trolling, but rest assured anything that's constructive will be approved, whether it's positive or negative.  I hope to start a conversation and offer support for others who are finding their way through homeschooling a child on the Autism Spectrum.