Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A post about... home education? WOW!

You might have begun to wonder if we even have the children at home anymore. After all, out of the last 27 posts, only ONE has had anything to do with the topic of home education! You've read much about baseball, Halloween, novel writing, Twilight movie and hat, 5K running, and visiting friends and relatives. But perhaps you are coming to a blog about home education to read about home education. And you have been sorely disappointed.

If you've stopped by here wanting to know how the world of autism has been going, then you would be disappointed with that as well, I'm sure.

To be quite frank and transparent, as I like to be, neither one of those things has been a whole lot of fun. And it's hard to write about it. Sometimes, it can be cathartic to talk about struggles, and sometimes it just serves to reinforce the frustration and sadness. Today, I'm attempting catharsis. And perhaps in the process, if you are struggling in the day-to-day of raising children on the spectrum, or home educating, or both, you will feel that you are not alone.

During these times when it's a struggle, I try to continue to learn to much about myself and about my children, which has its good and bad sides. It's easy for my personality to lay the blame on myself. Much easier, in fact, than taking credit for the successes. However, I've learned a lot about myself during the last 2 months of training for my running: I am capable of accomplishing something. I'm capable of setting goals and achieving them. I was beginning to wonder if I had lost this ability. You see, it's easy to set goals and make plans when you're homeschooling. There are tangible boxes to check, lesson plans to complete.

However, the goals behind those plans are more difficult to see come to fruition when you are dealing with children on the spectrum. Or perhaps I generalize there too much, perhaps it is my children. After all, children on the spectrum are so different from one another! Regardless, I can only speak now of what I'm living. We seem to run in cycles in this house. There are periods of great progress: great periods of organized thinking, in the ability to interact socially, resilience is at a maximum, stimming and perseveration are at a minimum. Then comes a time where those things fall apart, and very little seems to be accomplished, and some progress even seems to be lost. These times are very difficult for me, and as I have two children on the spectrum who don't seem to want to coordinate their periods of reorganization, it can feel like I'm always going backward. For someone like myself who needs tangible results as a confirmation of progress and success, this is very disheartening.

During the 5K, I learned quickly not to look around me and compare myself to the other participants. I did that at first... when the race started and everyone took off and ran past me, I immediately became discouraged. I thought maybe I should give up. I KNEW I was nuts. But I just put one foot in front of the other, and I kept going. I didn't look around me. I didn't worry about the people who could run faster. I just kept running MY race. And I finished. I accomplished my goal.

But, in home education with 2 children on the spectrum and one typical child, I can only do as much as I can do. And ultimately, I'm not running a 5K here. I'm not training for something with a tangible finish line. I'm not even on a course that only goes in one direction. All I can really do is keep placing one foot in front of the other, even when the course changes direction on me and has me heading back towards what looks like the start line. And since, unlike when I'm in the 5K, I'm not the only one to consider in this... sometimes I am going to have to stop and let someone tie their shoes, catch their breath, or even take a break from the journey for a little while.

Then we'll all get back up, and resume. One foot in front of the other. For however long it takes.


Lisa said...

I love your insights here. Struggles are definitely part of child rearing, autism or no, so it's certainly not just you and your kids who have them. The goal setting thing is hard, as you say, because our goals are less tangible in home education, especially if we don't rely on test scores (like me!). Thanks for the encouraging words!

MasterpieceMom said...

You're definitely not alone. We're cyclic here as well. During those weeks of anger, frustration and stress, the urge to run away can be strong. So, maybe we should all take up 5K's. :D Thanks for saying it all out loud.

argsmommy said...

Wonderfully said! Your post reminds me of the Bible verse, "Run in such a way as to get the prize." (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-25). When I'm struggling with all the things you just mentioned, I try to remember that it's not about earthly goals, but eternal ones. Sometimes we forget that even on the bad days we are still achieving higher goals.


The Glasers said...

I think of homeschooling like a marathon. If you try to sprint it, you aren't going to finish. And there are definitely walls that can cause you to give up. You also need to keep hydrated (Holy Spirit) and carbo-loaded (Bible) to make it to the finish!