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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Teaching Tommy: The Journey Begins



We moved from Philadelphia to Cape Cod this summer. We wanted to move; we wanted to live near the sea; we wanted a different life. But the central reason for the move was this: a better place to homeschool our older child, our son, Tom.

Tom is now 11 years old. When he was three, he was diagnosed with "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified" (PDD-NOS). Otherwise known as high functioning autism. So from the time he was three (actually younger), Tom has been labelled, slotted, pigeon-holed and "specially educated."

Now, Tom is being homeschooled.

Up until now, school has been a bit of a disaster for Tommy. Booted from daycare, kicked out of preschool, and required to have a 1:1 aide just to be included with "typical" 5 year olds at a private preschool (our third, and NOT our first choice), you'd think he was a walking disaster area.

He's not. In fact, he's a delightful kid - bright, verbal, funny, creative. But from his "public record," you'd never know it.

His first "boot" out the door was for standing in front of a mirror with objects in his two hands- and saying too little. The second was for throwing a sweater at a teacher (at age 3). By the time he entered kindergarten, we had already been through two IEP's - as well as several 1:1 aides and a slew of therapists. By the time he finished third grade, he was already more than a year behind his peers - which everyone seemed to think was perfectly reasonable.

It was then we decided to homeschool.

Now, two years later, we've finally worked out the details and gotten started. It's October, and already we know we made the right choice! But what will work - what won't - and why - will be the subject of this blog.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though you could be
writing about my 15 year old son.
I have not chosen to homeschool him
but continuely push the school district to ask more of him.
Now in 10th grade he is finally given a little homework, and
is finally writing paragraphs.
I hope this year to get to foot notes. He is taking algebra and
science at grade level.... But they don't get what he can do.

Best of luck to you I will watch for your posts. Mom in MN

The Word Of Jeff said...

Hi Lisa,

I've been a subscriber to your "About.com Autism / Spectrum
Disorders Guide" e-mail newsletter for a while now and always enjoy your insights and suggested resources.

My 6 year old grandson was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome a few years back. My daughter and son-in-law, who are tremendous parents whom I admire and respect, have chosen thus far to allow him to remain in special ed classes at his local public school. This year he seems to be flourishing, both academically and socially, for which we are all very thankful. Homeschooling is always an option, should it be necessary in the future.

I look forward to reading your blog about your experiences with homeschooling for your son.

All my best thoughts,
Jeff

Kim W. Seattle Wash. said...

Lokkm forward to hearing about your son's progress. We are exploring homeschool as an option for our 6 yr old with moderate autism...

Thanks for sharing!!!!

Anonymous said...

We have been homeschooling our two autistic sons for 3 years now. What a relief it has been to be out of the disapointing school district. I was very TIRED of fighting for both of them for something every week! Your story sounds like ours. I cannot tell you how much both boys have flourished and accomplished. The best part is seeing their self confidence improve dramatically. The school was such a negative place for them. Of course we have had our trials and tribulations in finding a routine that fits both and a curriculum. It definitely has been worth every bit! I will really enjoy following your journey. You will be amazed what a difference it makes.

Ladyzis said...

My son is 11 and has the same diagnosis. He has come a long way as I have pushed the schools to give him what he needs. He is now in a day treatment program with 6 kids and is doing so well! This is his 2nd year. While I would love to stay home and homeschool, I am a single mom and am not able to do so. It takes a lot of energy, but it is so worth it to fight for what he needs! I have also changed his diet to no sugar or processed foods, organic meat (AND nitrate free), organic fruits and vegatables. You can see the difference how much food intake and what foods at that, makes a huge difference in thier thinking! I would encourage others to do it too! I can see the difference in his behavior rt after he has eaten sugar, or nitrates especially.Thank you for all of your information you give online!

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

Thanks everyone for your encouragement!

We have thought a LOT about diet - I even experimented with GFCF and various supplements when Tom was little. Those changes made very little difference for him (so far as I know he has no GI issues). But I could absolutely see where taking the garbage out of the food could help the entire family feel and think better!

marie said...

I am so excited to see this. I am a therapist and have a son with autism. After going through so many other parent's experiences with schools, I have decided to homeschool my son when he is done with his intensive therapy. (He'll be first grade age then) I already homeschool my older typical son, but am anxious about doing it with my younger son. I'm glad to see that I can read what you are doing so it can pave the way for us!