I’m so proud of Buzz today. I’ve been teaching myself to use Inkscape, a free opensource design programme. I decided it would be really useful for Buzz to learn to use it too, it could potentially open many doors in the future. As well as this, he is very creative but in a mathmatical way. He’s never been into colouring or drawing, but he loves drawing diagrams, and if he does draw a picture it has to be very precise and scientific. For example, the other day I drew a sun, you know, that typical way most people draw a sun – a round ball with lines coming out all around. He said “that’s not what a sun looks like” and proceeded to correct my drawing with a non-spiked sun with red heat spots and solar flares!
So I felt that working with vector images on a design programme might be just his cup of tea when it comes to creativity. And it turns out I was right! I spent a few minutes showing him some of the basics, then left him to have a play. Half an hour later I encouraged him to choose a youtube tutorial to work on. I’ve been using Nick Saporito‘s channel, his tutorials are excellent. Buzz chose to create this Heartbeat Design Vector. It may not look like much at first glance, but if you start watching the video you’ll realise there’s so much more to it than first meets the eye! I really didn’t believe he’d cope with it, in terms of the focus and time needed to see it through – it’s a 13 minute video (which we have to pause and rewind a lot to follow the instructions) and is created for adults or older kids, not young children. However, I was completely wrong.
Buzz grasped the concept and the language so quickly, quicker than I had! He’d hear something once and then remember it. Or Nick would say something that wouldn’t have made sense to me if I hadn’t worked through some basic tutorials, but Buzz seemed to understand it, as if it was a language he has always known. It took about 2 hours, a he loved doing it too. He was so proud of himself, and this is really important. He struggles a huge amount in some areas, and can get very upset and cross at himself (and us!) if he can’t get something right. The world is black and white to him, and if it’s not right then it’s wrong and bad, there’s very little room for middle ground. It’s exhausting for him and for us (as it was for school) to work in the areas that don’t come naturally to him, so I’m super excited to have found another area of strength and enjoyment!
I suggested we write a poem as Buzz always comes out with very poetic sounding phrases, but he suggested we write tongue twisters instead. Homeschooling is mostly Buzz-led so that’s what we did. Here they are. Some written by Buzz, some by me. Let us know which was the hardest to repeat over and over as we’re having a competition between us!
Ali asks Alan about antelopes and anteaters.
Busy buzzy Barnabas bakes bread beautifully.
Can cows count cantankerous crickets?
Does Darren dance delightfully?
Elephants eat elderberries early in England.
Gorgeous guineas graze on grass gratefully.
Lily lies laughing like Little Lola.
Silly Sam sings silly songs on sunny Saturdays.
Timmy titters to tiny turtles.
We only intended to make a little broken pot garden (pot got broken in the latest wind storm, but nothing is trash in this household!), but we got carried away and made three little gardens: a broken pot cascading garden, a hanging basket, and a little miniature village. The bare patch on the village has grass seeds, we will be making it into a little playground on a lawn.
I have just been in tears watching this video because I’ve never seen or read anything that explains, shows and describes the way Buzz struggles that is quite so spot-on.
THIS is why I home school. THIS is why I couldn’t go to post-natal groups and toddler groups. THIS is why we join in outdoors activities but avoid indoor activities. THIS is the struggle that goes un-noticed as my son holds on to his feelings, his anxieties, his panic, his fear, his over-excitement, his over-stimulation, as he works so hard to keep himself together and hide his struggles…. THIS is why he comes through the front door into his ‘safe zone’ and breaks down into an inconsolable wreck of utter physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.
THIS is high functioning autism. The kind of autism that so often goes unnoticed because the kids are aware enough to know there is a certain etiquette to which they must adhere, but struggle enough that having to adhere to it is overwhelming. The kind of autism that results in so many HF-ASD kids being misunderstood, unsupported, and often, ultimately, homeschooled. The kind of autism that has parents being judged as not giving their children the appropriate discipline when in fact they have more and clearer boundaries in place than any other parent they know. The kind of autism that results in kids being told they are naughty when in fact they are terrified to over-step the boundaries; to be punished. The kind of autism that the parents hardly ever talk about, but think about non-stop as they analyse every possible scenario within every situation and take endless measures and steps on a minute-by-minute basis to avoid this kind of physical, mental and emotional overload.
But… this is also the child who hears every bird singing… “I heard a blackbird over there, and a robin over there.” This is also the child who cries emotional tears when they feel the warmth of the first Spring day on their face. This is also the child who will see the tiny speck of a buzzard high in the sky that everyone else takes an age to pinpoint! This is also the child who will notice the most vulnerable person in the room, and will make sure they know they have a friend in him.
THIS is my perfect, beautiful son.
I want to share this video here because it hits the nail on the head; these kids say it better than I ever could. This is Buzz through and through and is one of the main reasons I took him out of school, although since homeschooling I see it for myself so much more clearly. It is truly amazing to see his brain working so effectively and quickly and enthusiastically when he is allowed to move and fidget and stim as much as he likes. It fascinates me because it is not what I’m like at all. I can fully understand why all that movement and noise can be mistaken as him not focussing and not concentrating on what he’s doing, and I can understand why it would distract other children in a classroom setting.
The more I homeschool, the more I realise that this is exactly what Buzz needs, and that makes me so excited and relieved and certain of our decision. When we made the decision we were far from certain that it was the right one, but Buzz was struggling more and more with school so we had to give it a shot. Now that we’re doing it I see that homeschooling is the only way Buzz will be able to reach his potential, enjoy learning to the full (which he really does), and keep his stress levels to a minimum. I am beginning to understand why he came home from school and completely broke down, because he had been trying too hard all day long just to be the person school needed him to be, and that was before even trying to do any work. Just as the girl in this video said:
“It makes me feel sad when you tell me to try harder even though I’ve already tried as hard as I can.”
Quotes taken from the http://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1125589414148582
Our first time at the home school swim session today. We’ve not been able to come before as under 8s need accompanying in the pool and I’m not able to do that (although I hope I’ll be well enough for the occasional swim!), but now he’s 8 here we are.
Buzz is his happiest in water, which is one of the best things about homeschooling, he gets to swim 3 or more times a week, sometimes for a few hours at a time.
I bought some wipe clean magnetic speech bubbles the other day. Yesterday I put them on our fridge. This morning I came down to find this. I love it!!