New on Respectfully Connected: It is just over a year since we withdrew our eldest child from formal education after the stress became unbearable for him. I was tentative about our decision. As a successful ‘product’ of formal education, and a pretty mainstream gal, I had never considered homeschooling, let alone the child-lead unschooling adventure we have embarked on. But we did it because we had to, and over the past year I have discovered real joys and benefits of home educating my three neurodivergent children.
I never realise until I am there. Until I find myself feeling sick with disgust at my old interests and desperately seeking something to latch on to.
If you know an autistic person, adult or child, know that the space between our passions is always terribly unsettling. Sometimes it feels bleak, for there is nothing to be excited about, nothing to dig in to. Sometimes it feels lonely, for we have lost our way of connecting with other humans. Sometimes it is scary, because we have taken away the only thing holding our mind tethered, keeping anxiety, or mania, or paranoia, or depression at bay.
I’ve been experiencing some discomfort lately as I unpack and try to put back together my thoughts and feelings about screen time and social media. I have always been extremely supportive of neurodivergent people’s needs and rights to access tech for communication, friendships, and fun. I defend against screen shaming adults whining about young people’s use of screens. And yet…
Every day more families with autistic children are taking them out of school, out of therapy and out of ‘special needs’ programs. In natural parenting, homeschool, unschool, and gentle parenting groups online, I meet more of us than ever before, finding our place away from the mainstream where we have been hurt and our children attempted to be moulded in ways we don’t want.