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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Plan for Coping With Aspergers School Refusal

School refusal has begun. A wedding, Easter school holidays and big girl preparing to leave home for an overseas job have crippled Boy. Unable to cope with change, Boy's Aspergers meltdowns have increased and he has flatly refused to complete set home school tasks.

Reflecting on our week, I was confronted with my inability to change to suit Boy's needs. Eager to ensure quality home education for Boy, I have over stressed the importance of doing things my way. After taking a breather and investigating what went wrong this week, I can accept that it is I who has skipped off the path of diversity, teachable moments and multiple intelligence. I have thrown our well thought out educational philosophy into the recycle bin because I have been busy and single minded.

Another plan is needed for mother to remember that home schooling a child with Aspergers is completely different to educating a non-aspergers child. Here is my developing plan:
  • Work through obsessions. On days when Boy is focused on issues not included in the home school learning areas, it is acceptable to investigate Boy's obsessions. These are teachable moments that will otherwise be lost.

  • Teachable moments are everywhere. School does not have to represent that which we know as beneficial for us. School is everywhere and Aspergers learning occurs best without stress.

  • What I value as important is not important to Boy or his development. Allow him to explore that which he is highly interested in, even if it has no recognisable educational value to you.

  • Boy can only grow to be fully functioning if he first experiences a fully functional home life. Fighting, crying and meltdowns do not positively contribute to a functional home. Boy functions best when conflict is removed so ALWAYS remove conflict and remain flexible.

  • Short term goals are not time specific. They can be revisited and strengthened at any stage. Know that the goals can be re-met if you do things differently.

  • Nobody can accuse you of being a bad mother. By designing education around the need of your child you are being the best mother you can be. Most people will be grateful that their children do not have Aspergers.

  • Meltdowns are worse for Boy than they are for you. Remain calm and use Boy's logic, obsessive compulsiveness and anger as a learning experience. Shutting your ears is tantamount to saying you know everything and are a superior person.

  • Nobody can read your mind. Think abusive thoughts but NEVER say them because they will destroy Boy's confidence and reinforce further unacceptable behaviour and school refusal.

  • When you reign in and block outsiders from coming to your home and adding over stimulus, remember that it will only be for a short time while Boy reaches emotional and social equilibrium again. Email and on-line Aspergers support groups produce no over stimulus to Boy and are there 24 hours per day. Use them.

  • You can only recognise a bad day because you have first had good days to measure against. Things do improve. Hasten improvement by reducing conflict and grabbing whatever teachable moments you can.

  • You are a team, a package, a caring parent. Team work means working together to get the best result. Work with Boy, not against him.
What works for you during meltdowns? Can anybody add to my developing coping plan for Aspergers home school refusal?


Kaber said...

On bad days here (with 3 boys on the spectrum we definately get our share of them!) We usually stop school and do activities they enjoy and incorporate occupational therapy. It's my philosophy (having Sensory disorders myself) they nothing I teach them on those bad days will stick in their minds. There is litle to no retention on bad days, so why waste my time trying to make them continue to 'do school'?

I have found if I am concistant with occupational therapy we have a lot less meltdowns.


Megan Bayliss said...

Thanks kaber. OT is a great thing to do on those days when book learning is just not going to happen.
I think I might try a mini circuit in our back yard. Boy would LOVE it.

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