I have created a gofundme to help friends of mine, Kerry, Aiden and their family who have kids on the autism spectrum, who are in great need of support. I would so appreciate it if anyone who is able to can either donate, or if you’re not able to support them financially if you would consider reblogging or sharing the link. Thank you so much! xxx
I’ve been thinking recently about just how far my demand avoidance actually reaches, and the answers have astonished me, to be honest. Certain things that I do in certain ways, and ways in which I react, I have always before considered to be unrelated oddities of my personality, but viewing them now through the lense of demand avoidance they make a lot more sense and are more cohesive.
So I suppose for this blog post it’s probably best to just relate examples.
What first got me thinking about this in the past few weeks was when I was thinking about self-help books. I was thinking about parenting, and different styles of parenting, the names given to those different styles, and the books first initiating and then expanding upon / marketing those different styles. It occurred to me that, bar a few baby care and conception books, I have never fully read through a parenting book. I have bought quite a few along the way, always with the intention of reading them, but I have never actually read more than a paragraph here and there. Bearing in mind here that my primary hobby is reading – it’s something I do at least daily – and I read primarily non-fiction, this complete omission of parenting books is quite striking. Especially scene as parenting is something that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about and theorising about. Of course, I know exactly why I don’t read them – I DO NOT LIKE PEOPLE TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!! I do not like demands, I do not like suggestions, I do not like expectations, I do not like even reading about methods, because to me these feel like something that could become expectations. Even though I have discovered that my parenting style is similar to certain ‘known’ styles, the thought of categorising myself or aligning myself with something with INSTRUCTIONS or GUIDELINES (read: demands / expectations) totally flips me out. I insist on doing things entirely my own way. No matter how difficult or troublesome that may be, and no matter if I need to reinvent the wheel for myself in doing that.
More self help: exercise routines. Recently I devised a get fit routine for myself. I briefly considered buying a book, or searching online for a suitable routine, but decided almost immediately (even before searching for anything) that that was NOT a good idea and that I would make up the exercise plan myself, as I normally have in the past with most forms of exercise I have done. I had to see my gp a couple of weeks ago, and it occurred to me afterwards the intense need I felt to make sure that she knew that my exercise plan was self-made. I remember telling her, and how I hurriedly told her that it was a self-made plan, as if this fact somehow made the whole idea of having an exercise regime more palatable. (Which it does, to me. The idea of somebody else telling me what to do with my body enrages me, to be honest.)
That’s reminded me of the rather tricky situation I found myself in when I was attending physio sessions after breaking my ankle. I desperately wanted to heal everything properly, but I encountered a problem during the sessions. First, she told me to warm up on the exercise bike while she went off to do something, and, I’m afraid, I simply couldn’t. I tried, I really did, but I could not get myself to do it. She wanted me to do something with my body, and I simply was not ABLE to force myself to follow through. (I was well able to do it physically, but psychologically, I just couldn’t make myself.) Then came practising the actual exercises with her – I struggled to force myself to do each one – I did most of them deliberately slowly and sulkily, and I ended up ‘taking back control’ by telling her that I would do a certain amount (always different to the amount she told me to do) and by doing them in different orders! I ended up being so appalled by the whole performance, by being told what to do, that I only attended two sessions and quickly rather taught myself to walk at home, on my own. I know it was silly and counter productive, but it is what it is. I couldn’t do it.
More ‘self-help’ – (really stretching the meaning of ‘self-help’ here I’m afraid…) Diets! Every single time I have ever undertaken a diet, including when I was anorexic, it has been ENTIRELY devised by myself. Seriously, don’t fuck with my food!!! 😉 I assume this is partially the reason that the idea of deliberately eating healthily makes me so angry too… (Although a lot of that has to do with anorexia, rejecting societies’ weight prejudice, and the injustice of it all, as well.) It’s a no-go area. Demand avoidance reigns supreme here for me! 😉
Another instance in which I prefer to do things myself: face creams. I make my own. With no recipe or instructions. I feel far more comfortable using something that I’ve made myself. Same goes for health care, and herbal remedies. I’d write out my own prescriptions if I was legally able to. 😉 I feel far better about things if I can work out for myself what I need and go to the gp and ask them for a prescription for that particular thing (instead of having them decide for me), but I’ve learnt over time that that often doesn’t go down very well!!! 😉 So I manage to control this urge (mostly!) these days!!! I prefer to make my own tea – even if I have teabags I will usually add something to them so I can change the tea and ‘control’ it a bit.
Stuff. Stuff that I buy. Apart from general groceries, I would estimate that about 50% of the ‘things’ that I buy I buy with a different usage in mind that what is intended for that product. Seriously – don’t tell me how to use something!!! 😉
Societal expectations. Oh wow, a huge topic – how to break it down?
Basically – I hate them. Don’t expect anything of me, in any way. I find myself deliberately doing things that I know I am expected not to, because it makes me feel better. Like swearing. Swearing when it’s inappropriate. I do it deliberately to make myself feel less controlled. I often use language that I know isn’t expected, because I don’t like to feel that I am expected to speak in a certain way. For example academic language – I would be well able to speak in an academic style if I put my mind to it, but I tend to deliberately ‘dumb down’ my language because I hate being expected to speak in a certain way. One of the things I used to enjoy about smoking was the fact that it was socially unacceptable.
Social conventions, such as forced smiling, forced eye contact, having to answer ‘fine’ when someone says ‘how are you’. No, no, no, no, no!!!! I remember as a child, when people told me to smile I would bare my teeth at them. THAT is how I feel about social conventions.
Fashion. Any form of following a set of conventions or norms. It always used to amaze me, with goth friends, how they thought they were original. Original in what way? They had simply replaced one set of norms for another.
Religion? Nooooo!!! I’ve always been spiritual, but I simply could not follow the rules of a church or a tradition. Quite possibly, I could only ‘follow’ a religion if I had made up the religion myself… 😉
And that is me. Fiercely, fucking-offly, demand avoidant.
Okay this is a bit of an odd one – you have been warned!!! 😉
Something I’ve been wondering about recently is the idea of our so-called special interests sometimes taking another form rather than being purely an interest in a specific theme or subject – being more of an interest in a specific mechanism – either a mechanism in the physical world or a mechanism of thinking.
I was reminded of this this morning when my daughter and I had coffee together and chatted. (Well I had coffee, and if you can call two average aspies talking together ‘chatting’ you probably haven’t seen two aspies talking together… 😉 ) So anway, we ‘spent a time in conversation’. I allocate a lot of time to talking with my daughter in the very specific way that she enjoys talking – it’s always seemed to me like something that she needs to ‘get out of her system’ and if I can fully listen, as much as I can, it will hopefully reduce her need to talk ONLY about these subjects to other people. And, of course, she is my daughter so I enjoy hearing what she has to say, and I like her to feel listened to. So this morning our ‘time spent in conversation’ was very much like most other recent ‘times spent in conversation’ between the two of us. (Not all conversation, we do engage in a lot of more ‘normal’ chatter as well, but I get the feeling that this is mostly a learned behaviour of hers and not something that she enjoys for the sake of it itself, although I believe she does enjoy the connection that it brings. But this morning she said ‘let’s talk’, and I responded with ‘okay do you want to talk about your interests?’, which she did, so we did, and the conversation consisted of the following:
We spoke about ‘crossovers’. By crossovers, my daughter means taking something out of one situation (in her case preferably one of the tv shows or video games she loves) and putting it (in a sensible position) into another. My daughter LOVES crossovers. She has other special interests, at the moment the primary one being the video game called Undertale, and a few secondary special interests of other tv shows and video games (She also has other non-media interests like history, museums and drawing.), but her primary, overarching special interest is, I believe, crossovers. And crossovers is also one of the main methods that she uses to engage with her other special interests. Our main ‘talking about her interests’ for years now has involved me picking two of her secondary passions (say for example Undertale and My Little Pony) and asking her for each character of Undertale which character of My Little Pony she would use in their place in this special scenario, and in addition for each geographical area in the undertale world which area in My Little Pony that would be replaced by. The ‘filling’ of the conversation has changed over the years based on her secondary special interests being replaced by new ones, but the main structure or ‘mechanism’ of the conversation has remained the same. I remember a few years ago her and I spent quite a bit of tv time watching the B&B competition show ‘Four In A Bed’ together, which prompted many conversations about the various different B&Bs that four of her favourite characters from other shows at a time would enter into the competition. (It in fact formed the requested scaffolding for many night time bedtime stories she asked me to make up for her.)
Another method by which she enjoys crossovers, and in which she in fact has made some pretty astonishing virtual constructions (I have been totally awestruck seeing them), is by taking buildings or geographical areas from one computer game and actually building them inside another game. She built an entire area called The Ruins from Undertale, inside Minecraft. It is awesome, and incredible in its magnitude, exact spacial reproduction, and minute detail. She has also built three different buildings from Undertale inside The Sims, which are quite frankly mindblowing in their complexity and minute detail. They are totally awesome.
A third way in which she enjoys crossovers is in the form of ‘references’. Subtle or overt reference within one game or show to another game or show. She loves coming across and watching these, and she loves making her own references in her conversations to other people. (Which they often don’t get, but hey, us aspies don’t understand so much of what neurotypicals say to us on a good day, so who is counting? 😉 )
So there you have it. Crossovers. That appears to be my daughter’s special interest, in the form of a mechanism or ‘thought template’. Now, on to mine! 😂
Mine is…. Wait for it…. Incremental Increases or Decreases!!! Ta daa! Doesn’t that sound exciting?! 😉 😂
Yep, incremental increases (or decreases) appears to be my main, overarching, ‘special interest’. For some reason the act of viewing incremental increases or decreases of something pleases my brain. (Yeah, I know, it takes all sorts! 😛) This desire to see things gradually increasing or decreasing, preferably in patterns, permeates much of my daily life. (Some of this is fun for me, but some of it has merged with my severe OCD and is not so much fun. 😦 )
It dictates the video games I enjoy playing (Games of farming, collecting or mining are absolute pure heaven for my brain – you have all sorts of different categories of products etc which you can manipulate to increase and decrease, all at the same time. It chills me out SO much playing these games and watching the increases and decreases.). It, I’m pretty sure, affects some of the other hobbies I choose. Crochet – the thing increases gradually – Sally brain heaven. Querkles – oh my gosh a ready-made heaven of patterns and increases.
It permeates into almost everything. I remember in my last job having all these pages of numbers that, if I were to suddenly leave one day (which I did! 😉 ), my boss or my replacement would have no idea of their purpose. Because I used to have silly compulsions like the need to check a few times a day exactly how much computer space I had used up – it gradually grew so I loved this. Thankfully I was a really fast worker so these things didn’t affect the rest of my job majorly. I remember one occasion many years ago – I was working in a tiny cosmetic factory, where there were literally only 10 staff for the entire company, so ALL of us (owner included) did everything including working on the product line. A few of us were collectively doing two different steps on the packaging line – I think it was opening and folding boxes, then packing creams into said boxes. I had been ‘compelled’ to ‘organise’ how much time I was spending on each step into a pattern – say for example I was opening up 50 boxes, then moving to the next point on the line and putting 25 creams into boxes. I became aware at one point that the company owner was staring intently at me, and he eventually said ‘what on earth are you doing???’. It was a bit embarrassing. So the thing about my increase / decrease ‘special interest’ is the unfortunate muddying circumstance that it mixes into my ocd, and creates all sorts of problems there with everyday activities. I have help with the housework from autism services, because I simply cannot do it on my own with the patterns I have to create – it takes too long. So it can be difficult to pinpoint where ‘special interest / asd’ stops and ‘obsession / ocd’ starts re this passion. But I suppose if I had to try, it would be where enjoyment ends and misery starts. I truly enjoy the ‘interest’ parts, like the crochet and video games, but I detest the ‘misery’ parts.
While I was thinking about this subject it occurred to me that when I was younger I had another special interest that was more of a ‘mechanism’ or ‘thought template’. I adored caricatures, or fictional characters with ‘absolute’ qualities. For example, I absolutely adored reading ‘Ritchie Rich’ because he was ‘absolutely wealthy’, and I used to love imagining him in different situations but transposed into them with his ‘absolute wealth’ – (makes me think of crossovers… 😉 ). I enjoyed watching, reading about or imagining in different situations any character with an ‘absolute’ quality – totally evil, totally kind, totally bouncy (The Mr. Men were perfect examples!) – they were all something I loved. Possibly there was also a sense of predictability with them – you could pretty easily predict how situations would end up or what their reactions would be, as opposed to more complex characters. I still, as an adult, enjoy watching things with ‘absolutes’ – not just characters but also situations or organisations – for example a ‘totally and irrevocably evil’ dystopian government, or the ‘total evil-ness’ of some of the walking Dead characters contrasted with the ‘goodness’ of others, although these days I also like noticing and trying to draw and pinpoint the exact line along the spectrum of where characters fall on quality spectrums. (And The Walking Dead provides SO much fodder for this sort of speculation!)
So there we have it – those are my two main ‘mechanism’ or ‘thought template’ special interests, well as far as I’m aware anyway! 😉 I’m really interested to know if other people have these sort of special interests – more of a process or mechanism than an actual thing or subject?
In a conversation with someone the other day I was reminded about just how important it is to be exceptionally careful about what we say, and the language we use to say it, to our kids.
My daughter and I were talking to someone, and they were speaking about someone they knew who had had a car accident. They mentioned how nice this person is and then said that they are ‘a very pretty girl’. I immediately picked up on this inside my head because I wasn’t sure how it was relevant, and then I became aware that my daughter had turned to stare intently at me and seemed to be wanting to gauge my reaction to the ‘pretty girl’ comment. Eventually she herself made some comment about it not being relevant how pretty the girl is in the circumstances.
What struck me about this exchange was not the fact that the person had made the comment in the first place (it’s pretty normal speech and most people don’t mean any harm by it), or the fact that my daughter didn’t like the comment, but rather the fact that she actually turned around and VISIBLY looked to me to help guide / formulate her reaction / opinion. They look to us for guidance, and they take on board SO much of our stuff – our beliefs, our prejudices, our doubts and fears, our kindnesses.
So we might think, well that’s okay, I have pretty rational / normal beliefs and a good set of ethics, I have no reason to worry about that. And most of us DO have a good set of ethics, well certainly the parents I know anyway. But I very much doubt that any of us is totally without some sort of prejudice, even if unconscious, and even if we are a pretty prejudice-free sort of person, the language and conversational practices that society uses is a massive tool for passing on societal expectations, AND societal prejudices. And a lot of it is extremely subtle. You really have to look hard sometimes to see the possible effects of the language you are using. I am lucky in this way, I think, because having a daughter with ASD has made me super-aware of the effect that my language, mannerisms, tone of voice etc etc has on my daughter, out of necessity, so it has made me very aware of the pitfalls contained in some common language practices.
One thing I often have to correct myself on in speech is gender stereotyping language. I’m often guilty of using ‘he’ or ‘she’ when I should have used ‘they’. (My daughter always corrects me though! 😜) Apart from gender stereotyping though, there are so many things that are common in conversation in society that can not only perpetuate prejudices, but could also have horrible effects on our kid’s self esteem and sense of self worth. Examples are mentioning attractiveness in language when it’s not really relevant, as I’ve said already, mentioning someone’s weight when it’s irrelevant, say, “I was talking to this large guy in the supermarket…”, instead of saying “I was talking to this friendly guy in the supermarket…” or just “I was talking to this guy in the supermarket…”. The words themselves do not need to be offensive (you’re using large instead of fat), and the meaning does not need to be meant as offensive (it was just your observation), in order for a prejudice to be passed along and perpetuated. The list of prejudices you can pass on in this way is endless. Weight, looks, race, disability, intellect, religion, etc etc. Of course sometimes mentioning one of these attributes is relevant to our conversation, and I’m not referring to those instances at all.
Another thing I’ve always tried to control with my daughter is my use of questions. Not so much for the sake of the prejudice / self esteem issues, but rather as a thinking skill for her. I remember when she first started school when I would pick her up I would make a point of NOT asking ‘Did you have a nice day?’ or ‘Is your teacher nice?’ I would rather ask questions like ‘What was your day like?’ and ‘What is your teacher like?’ For one thing it encouraged conversation rather than just a one word answer, and for another I wanted to help her think of things in terms of having many attributes, not just being totally good or totally bad. Also to me open ended questions sounded like I was more interested in answers, than just yes / no questions, and I wanted her to feel listened to.
Something that has always bugged me is something that some people do when they are speaking to children. And you hear it SO often. Say for example a child says “I’m really angry” or “I’m really bored”, and then an adult says to them “Ah, you’re not really angry / bored, are you??”. Why do they say that? It’s trying to invalidate the child’s experience. (Even if the adult has good intentions – if they’re say trying to calm a child down or make them feel better, it still feels and sounds like invalidation, which I can remember being exceptionally upsetting as a child.) I think it’s better to verbally acknowledge how the child is feeling, and THEN if possible try to find ways of either a) remedying the problem or b) coping with the feeling.
Another language thing, which I think most parents these days know already, is the difference between disliking the person and disliking the behaviour. SO important to make this distinction very clear in language.
Another thing is teasing. Now I’m not above a bit of teasing myself – it can be great fun to all parties involved if it’s light hearted and not nasty. But I do think that it’s important not to engage in it TOO much with our kids, and also to make 100% certain that the child is aware that you are joking. I think that people sometimes assume that others are aware that they are joking. Having ASD, I often spend hours fretting over something someone else has said to me, unsure of whether they were joking or not! (Although these days I normally just ask!)
I’m sure I’ve left loads of stuff out. Are there any other language issues that you’re aware of yourself re: being careful with kids and language?
Carrying on from my last blog post, these are some more things that I have found to be helpful. Hope some of them can be of use to you! 🙂
- Preparation: I spoke in my last post about the benefits of meticulous lesson preparation. Just to add another point in relation to that, if you are using any computer pages or media in your lesson, include in your preparation having all of those pages ready and open in tabs, so you don’t have to go searching for them.
- Make your lessons mobile! Unless you really enjoy having your lessons in a specific place, it can be really helpful to make them mobile. In our home we usually do lessons on the couch using two of those cushioned lap trays (and the coffee table), but I find that if you’re dealing with PDA / demand avoidance or if your child is struggling a lot with transitions, it takes away the demand of and eases the transition of coming to the lesson area if you can sometimes simply take the lesson to the child. Really useful also with teenagers who don’t feel like leaving their bedroom! 😉 We use lap trays sometimes, but normally if I want to take a lesson to her I use a deeper tray so things don’t fall off it in transit. I use one of these which is fantastic – large, sturdy and deep:
There are very few lessons which are impossible to carry out on a couch or on a bed, bar some arts and crafts or science experiments! You can also use mobile lessons as a potential negotiation term: “Would you like to do the lesson here or in the lounge?”
- Use their interests. Those special interests, no matter how obscure they may be, are SO useful for engaging asd students in lessons! You can use them for virtually any subject.
For example, say the current interest is dogs:
Maths – you need to feed 4 dogs, and each dog will eat 2 cans of food per day, how much must you buy for a week?
History – Lesson on the Tudor times. We are going to imagine that we are a dog living in a town in Tudor England – let’s talk about what we see around us.
Geography – we are a dog travelling the world with our family, with a special pet passport. Let’s find out what we discover in Italy.
Science – does a dog sink or float? Why? What effect does gravity have on dogs?
You get the idea. There really are endless possibilities. And you don’t need to talk ENTIRELY about the special interest in the lesson, but it can help to engage the student if you use it as a starter, or if you include it in snippets here and there.
- If you’re doing creative tasks, try not to be too attached to outcomes or methods. I will often have what I think is a fabulous activity planned – say for example I’ll have set out a whole range of paints and some blank Japanese fans for us to decorate – and then my daughter might totally ignore the paints and decide that she in fact wants to decorate the fans with glitter glue, or she might ignore the fans themselves and decide that she actually wants to decorate the box that they came in. Don’t sweat the small stuff – it’s all creative. I’d much rather she was happily and creatively painting the box than angrily painting the fans I’d prepared, so we could be left with two painted fans and angry memories associated with them.
I have similar thoughts about creative writing exercises. I might have prepared a lesson where we’re going to each write a composition about a picnic, but she might really want to rather write a composition about a dog. Try to analyse in these instances exactly what you are trying to teach – are you trying to teach your child about ‘writing about picnics’ or are you trying to teach them ‘fictional creative writing’ or ‘non-fiction creative writing’ or whatever the case may be? As long as they’re still learning about what you’re trying to teach them, does it matter too much how they do it? And if they ONLY ever write about dogs, I wouldn’t be too worried about that either. They’ll probably move on to another special interest in time. And if they don’t, they’ll become pretty jolly good at writing stories about dogs! 😉
- Anything can be made into a game! If games engage your child, they’re a wonderful way of learning information, and can be made or adapted to learn almost anything! I plan to do another blog post sometime about using special interests and games in home ed, but just briefly, a few ideas: You can take virtually any chunk of information you want to be learnt and put it into a simple board game, for example a snakes and ladders type boardgame where you go up a ladder if you answer a question correctly. So easy to draw the gameboard yourself on paper if you don’t mind it looking unprofessional, or otherwise Twinkl (www.twinkl.co.uk) has customisable game templates that you can use very simply and easily. Another idea is card games. Many different areas of learning can be made into a game of snap or memory matching, for example recently we did one of idioms and their meanings (matching the two together). Maths sums are also easy to set up as a snap game. You can also put information into a game of top trumps, and there are in fact many educational printable sets of top trumps online already that you can print out, or that you can buy. You can find them on planets, geography, chemical elements, etc etc.
- The dreaded handwriting! If writing by hand is holding your child back, consider minimising it. When my daughter was still at school she absolutely detested writing, and pretty much refused to do ANY work in the end mainly because of this. I mean, nothing. Seriously, nothing. So no-one actually realised what she was capable of. The first thing I did when we started homeschooling was take away the writing demand, almost completely, and she whizzed off, composing totally excellent creative writing pieces! When she needs to write something down, she dictates and I type. )Or if it’s fill-in type stuff she dictates and I write.) Sometimes she types as well. And I have noticed recently, after a few years of this arrangement, that she’s actually started to do small bits of writing herself now, which is amazing. Taking away the demand of writing totally freed her to grow academically in other ways that she may never have realised otherwise.
- Forget about ‘quiet hands’ and ‘table ready’! Our kids tend to learn SO much better when they are free to move about. When my daughter does creative writing, she dictates to me as she walks around the lounge. She also walks (paces) for periods of time every hour or so throughout the day. She tells me that this is her ‘thinking time’ and that she is unable to think properly when she is not walking. Is it any wonder she was unable to function at school?
There are a few things that I have worked out over time that I find work really well for our mini home-ed family. I am pretty sure I have omitted many things, and I will probably update this post or write a follow-up sometime! But for now, I just wanted to share some tips about things that you can do to make your home ed journey smoother. I know that not all kids with ASD are the same, therefore these tips will not work for every child, but hopefully they will be useful to some.
Also just to clarify, we are semi-structured home edders. So these tips are primarily for semi-structured or structured families. (As much as I admire unschooling, I do not have the bravery to do it myself! 😉 )
- If you do not stick to a strict timetable in terms of lesson times during the day, then I find that it is useful to always give notice that you’re going to do a lesson. Like for example “we’ll be doing maths in half an hour”. It gives the child time to cope with and prepare for the transition and to finish up whatever they’re doing. If I get an objection when I say “we’ll be doing maths in half an hour”, then I often find that negotiation works. I say something like “Okay, what about 40 minutes?”, and that is often accepted. I think the little bit of control that the child feels, helps, especially with kids with PDA. I often also offer a lesson choice – say I’ll give a choice of three different subjects and they can choose the two to do that day.
- When I’m about to begin the lesson, if I then get an objection, I’ll normally do one of two things: either a) use gentle humour to try to defuse the objection and gently carry on sitting down with the child to do the lesson anyway or b) smile and sit down gently anyway to start the lesson – sometimes the objection just dissipates naturally. I find that drawing attention to the objection and making a big deal out of it just strengthens it. If I cannot defuse the objection, I either negotiate a later time or just call it a day and try again the following day. I’d rather teach while someone is engaged and willing – much more productive!
- Keep lessons as short as possible. Pack as much useful or interesting information as you can into as short a space of time, to keep your child interested and to work within their attention span / frustration limits. It’s astonishing how much learning you can actually get done in 5 or 10 minutes if you try! (Particularly one on one.)
- As far as possible, prepare COMPLETELY for lessons in advance, down to the last detail. (While still retaining the ability to be flexible if needed during the lesson.) By preparing completely I mean, for example, pre-read any handouts that you plan to read together (to look up unknown terminology or details in advance instead of having to keep your child waiting during the lesson to do so). Gather together all stationery or equipment you need so that you don’t need to pause to fetch things. Plan the lesson down to the last detail, so that it runs as smoothly as possible, minimising pauses which could cause your child to become frustrated or lose interest. (But be prepared to change plans mid-lesson if you see interest or stamina flagging.) I know that this might seem a little OTT to some, and that I’m not teaching my child life skills by not preparing them for frustrations, but in my thinking, my priority during lessons is to facilitate giving them an education, not to teach them life skills, and it’s difficult enough to do that without throwing in extra hurdles. Life skills can be taught in less tricky situations than lessons!
- Unless it is something that you feel is academically essential, be prepared to ‘let go of’ certain information that you planned to teach if you see interest flagging in certain topics or frustration setting in. There is no point in rattling on about the finer points of early Roman architecture to someone who is at best not really listening, or at worst on the verge of getting seriously bored and frustrated. Just let that information go, if it’s not vital, and either end the lesson, or move onto something they’re more interested in. Which brings me to another point:
- Analyse whether you are teaching something for their sake or for yours. Is it your interest, or is it their interest? And if it’s not their interest, is it vitally necessary? I think that there are few situations in which it is quite so striking what effect working outside of someone’s interests can be, than with asd!
- My daughter gets extremely frustrated if information is pitched at either too easy or too difficult a level. This can be really tricky, because it’s an extremely fine line that she draws for an ‘acceptable’ level. I do try to ‘pander’ to this because, as I said before, my priority in this is to give her an education, and I’m picking my battles. This is another reason why meticulous lesson preparation is so useful. For example, I use a lot of information handouts which I read out for us both during the lesson (or she can read out loud if she’s in the mood), so what I do is I read through the handouts beforehand, and mark points in highlighter that I want to read, and leave points unmarked that I want to leave out because they’re either a) something she no doubt already knows or b) unnecessarily detailed and will probably be boring. If there is anything in the handouts that I find even slightly tricky to understand, I first ‘rehearse’ and plan my explanation in my head so that I can deliver it smoothly and coherently, in a way that isn’t confusing or on the ‘too difficult’ end of the spectrum. I know it’s a lot of planning, but I really find it to be well worth it.
- Again in terms of preparation, if we’re going to be doing any type of experiment or craft, I generally do any ‘boring’ donkey-work beforehand, such as cutting out stuff. ASD kids can get extremely bored with this sort of thing, and I’d personally rather my daughter got to do and experience just certain stages of a craft or experiment rather than having to abandon everything due to a meltdown.
- My most important tip, I think, is to chill, and to breathe. Once you can relax yourself, things will start to flow. You have loads of time to do this, it’s not a race, and nothing will happen in a panic. It might seem nearly impossible to engage a child with ASD educationally, but in time you will find your groove. So chill about it. And enjoy! 🙂
Hi there, and welcome to my blog! This is my very first post, so I’m just going to give a brief intro to myself and to why I have started this blog. Thank you for reading. 🙂
I am Sally, a homeschooling mother to a wonderful aspie girl, and I myself am also an aspie. After a lot of struggle, trial and error and deliberation I am finally confident in my parenting style, which I have evolved and thought out myself but which is pretty similar to Unconditional Parenting and Respectful Parenting. I have many bugbears and things I am passionate about. Pet hates are childism, weight discrimination and speciesism. I am passionate about animal rights, human rights and autism acceptance (and anti ableism and ABA).
So why the blog? It occurred to me recently that I have been pretty much using facebook like a blog. Prattling on at great length about my beliefs and thoughts and theories – probably boring a lot of my friends, and at worst offending some who don’t share all of the same beliefs as me, or have a different parenting style. I really don’t want to offend or bore people, so I decided that it might be better to use an actual blog to write about my beliefs (and general prattlings), so that a narrower audience can read my stuff. So that people can have a choice whether or not to read what I write, rather than having it posted on their walls. 🙂
As for what I intend to blog about, probably mostly about the issues I am passionate about. My main interests are respectful parenting and autism so I’ll probably blog mostly about those, but I don’t want to limit myself to that. So I retain the right to post endless photos of my cactus and lithops collection!! 😉
Again, thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day. 🙂