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Monday, October 15, 2007

Getting Started with Homeschool: Nearly Fall!

By mid-August, I had written a very sketchy "homeschool plan" for our district, and gotten Tom signed up with a clarinet teacher and speech therapist.

He plays clarinet quite nicely (it was actually his idea, and someone gave us a clarinet) - though at age seven his idea of playing was to stuff toys in the bell. His incredibly sweet and patient teacher had recommended something called a "plateau clarinet," which is an ordinary clarinet with covers over most of the holes (like a flute or sax). This made playing less of a "can you cover the holes" project - and meant he could be more successful earlier on. His teacher also suggested that he start piano at the same time (he had tiny fingers).

The clarinet teacher seemed very solid, and not at all phased by an autistic student (so different from Philadelphia, where we were sent away from several schools with the admonition that no one would want to work with a student who wouldn't make adequate progress...). He recommended a piano teacher - and now we were in good shape.

The last piece of Tom's musical education would be some kind of ensemble opportunity - and it turned out that the school that he would have attended offered an afterschool jazz program. No auditions. It was for "more advanced" fifth and sixth graders, but I figured we'd give it a shot.

Last year, with our support, he played in fourth grade band - and did very well. The up side was that the music was a no brainer. The down side: when the nicest kids tried to greet him, he blew them off altogether - sometimes even saying "go away and leave me alone!"

We try to build on successes ...

Then, there were academics.

I knew about only two "autism appropriate" curricula: Lindamood Bell and Touchmath. Both are terribly expensive, and from what I'd learned about both, I felt I could make it up on my own based on basic info about the method. I read about Charlotte Mason, and again I liked some of what I saw - but couldn't quite figure out the reasoning behind dictation and some of the other curriculum elements... and not being a Christian, Bible wasn't of special interest.

So I had almost nothing in hand, and the fall about to start!


Canvas Grey said...

I'm playing catch up on my reading and posting. Making it up as you go...see you are smart! LOL ;-)

Dee Gordon said...

Dear Lisa Jo Rudy,

Now that you are settled in down in Cape Cod, have you checked out the schools in your area where you now live? I am just curious to find out if differant states offer differant learning.

Home schooling I am sure can be very rewarding for a parent to see there child progress.

Do you ever get any respite care for yourself? And what about your career? How do you fit it all into a day?

We started classes three weeks ago... Gymnastics, Swimming & Piano. My son age 7 finally went into the water on Sunday.

It took him three weeks to do that. He loves the pool, hates the people around him. Doesn't like to be touched either. Hate's Gymnastics... Even though he loves to climb the sofa's like a balance beam at home.. But, finally participated in class last week-end. Piano lasted 5 min's... His fingers were sore.

I've discovered over the last few weeks that sensory issues are really holding him back. The noise in the gym, pool and the tone of the keys on the piano.. We have an organ. Also, it's a new schedule of differant people and places to go.

Why didn't someone tell me I needed to discribe the world the way it works each time we did something new and continuiously repeat it every time we scheduled the day's happenings?

I found it much easier this week when I realized that the kids that were bobbing in the water with the instructor loved water. My little guy does not like showering at all being wet,etc. But he jumped into the pool almost at the end of class. I praised him so much and said it was a perfect jump.

I've realized over the years to take baby steps and be patient.

That's why I think the IEP at school is so important for the school and home. If we follow together a plan it may work for the child.

Have you started the homeschooling? If so how is going and what support to get with this?


Lisa Jo Rudy said...

Thanks, Canvas! actually, I'm not at all sure that making it up as I go along is especially smart... but it feel like until we know exactly what Tom CAN do it's hard to know which curriculum (if any) will really serve his needs... but man, it's strenuous sometimes!

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

Dee - I checked out the local schools to some degree, but am jaded. I've found that supervisors tend to tell you what you want to hear (or what they know they should say) - and I've also found that it's impossible to know just by looking whether a school is going to be a good fit for your child... so much is about the teacher, the support they get, the mix of kids... since we had already determined that homeschool was the best choice for us this year, I've put school investigation on hold for now.

Re respite - Tom is not an especially tough kid to babysit for, so we do hire sitters for him (and his sister) from time to time. And on rare occasions his grandparents look after the kids when we go away. so we're pretty much like every other family!

Swimming is a great sport for kids with autism - you can do it with or without support, alone or with friends, inside or outside... but it's true that the noise can be an issue (less outside than in). We've found that waves are awesome for Tom - he loves the sensory input - and being near a beach is wonderful for that.