A little while ago Gina commented on a post on my blog.
I was so moved by her remarks that I thought her story needed a post of its own. Her comment related to a post about Daniel Radcliffe (read it here), who was also told he was stupid, which prompted her to write this about her autistic son:
I have an 11 yo whom we removed from school in the first term of year one. He was six and had picked up the idea he was stupid and didn’t try hard enough.
They had stopped teaching him anything but social skills so he would be prepared for the local special school and he was allowed to play and do what he wanted all day.
They gave up on him because he was ticking none of the horrendous Ofsted boxes. I am sure they wanted to do it differently with him but there was no time for all (or any) of his needs to be met.
They told us to concentrate on his life skills so he could aim for living in a group home, that was the best we could hope for. They really didn’t like us much and I think us constantly trying to support our child in a system that essentially had no room for him did not improve their willingness to try.
Within weeks of taking him out of school as a child who could not recognise his letters he read a chapter book, by eight he had read an entire adult spider encyclopaedia. Most importantly he was happy and had stopped crying. He has recently learned how to join in with games and speak to his friends. Two days ago he played with a strange child in a playground with other friends. This is a huge milestone and totally unexpected.
He becomes kinder, braver and happier all the time away from school. Like Daniel Radcliffe said my son was also labelled and would have been discarded had it not been for home schooling. He loves learning and life now.
When Gina related to me a little of their family background it contained several other appalling instances of the treatment of their children in school, details of which I won’t go into here except to say they’re sadly very familiar; bullying, disregard of child’s special needs, blatant lying on the part of the school, which all culminated in them making that choice to home educate.
She went on to tell me:
We haven’t looked back, they are just over five years out of school and thriving. The stomach issues he had at school cleared up when they stopped going. They are in groups, making friends and just happy, life is good now. They remember school and don’t want to go back and feel really sorry for school children who get stuck in doors all day every day! They still have issues related to autism but we can deal with that as a family at home. There is time and space for that.
As a family we are a bit nerdy! We love Star Wars, Harry Potter and Dungeons and Dragons, we make loads of things and we love science experiments – especially with explosions or fire. They seem a lot less worldly than school children we know and are able to play longer and use their imaginations so much more. They’re just growing at a slower and more gentle pace which suits their needs better. They live the stories they read and movies they see through their games. We make sure to build boredom time into the day so they have to go and find something to do, even if they need help. We also make sure there are at least a couple of hours for just playing. They have chores, we cook and clean together and we play together.
We are looking at maybe doing Forest School with them once a week. They do sports, trips, play dates, crafting, drama and Parkour with their friends; friendships they have been building for a very long time now.
We are really close and I think that is one of the very lovely side effects of home education.
Many, many thanks Gina for sharing this with us. Wishing you continued happiness.