Since we'd been thinking on and off about homeschool for years, we'd gotten an earful of anxiety from well-meaning relatives and friends. How could you give up your personal life? How could you make a living? How could you find the patience? Aren't homeschoolers mostly religious nuts? and, of course, How would you provide social opportunities for your son?!
For years, I'd listened closely to all these concerns, and taken them very seriously. But as I learned more about homeschooling, I realized that many of these well-meaning friends were either working from outdated information or flat out ignorant about homeschooling in the 21st century. Perhaps homeschooling really was a fringe way of life twenty years ago - but today things have changed.
I was still worried about my personal life and making a living. But as we came to terms with the idea that we WERE going to homeschool, we started "practicing" on weekends and afterschool. And it was a whole lot more fun than we'd imagined. We took family nature hikes and brought along binoculars and field guides. We pulled out the maps and spent time explaining just exactly where we were going. We tried a few science experiments in the creek and the back yard.
We even got involved with a local homeschool "resource center" built on the theories of "unschooler" John Holt. It was an educational experience - but not much of a fit for us. Not only are we not unschoolers by nature - but we couldn't imagine "unschooling" Tommy. A child with autism may be bright, creative, and even willing to try something new. But he's highly unlikely to just "unschool" himself into communication skills, social relationships, or much outside his comfort zone!
In November we stuffed a storage locker full of our "unnecessaries," and decluttered the house. In February our house went on the market. By April we were back on Cape Cod, house hunting. Now, I had a point of contact: a local homeschooler who I had discovered through a listserve, who was willing to drop by our one-week rental to say hello.