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I am the crazy mom of five boys.  Four of my five boys are on the autism spectrum. Neuro-Diversity rocks!!!  I cook, I clean, I blog, I breathe.  Yup that is about it.  If you want to catch a glimpse of our crazy world you are more than welcome but don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The First Steps in a Journey

It is said that a journey of a thousand steps begins with the very first step.   That being said, our journey has begun.   “What journey?”  You may ask.  Our homeschooling journey!!!  Yes I know I am not your typical homeschooling momma.  Yes I know I said I would sooner walk over the hot coals of hell barefoot than homeschool our boys.  Yes I know I am the least organized person I know.  Yes I know that I said if I ever even thought about homeschooling my boys you should call the men with the white suits.  Well today I publicly eat  all those words, every one of them……well I may still be the least organized person I know but other than that I eat my words;-)
As some of you know, I was homeschooled for my high school years.  It was not a great experience for me.  I had been super active in school before that: chorus, drama,  band, debate team, tutoring, honors classes, etc.  I loved school. I thrived on the competition that school provided me.  Being pulled out of that environment and placed in a homeschooling one was not the right choice for me.  The experience honestly tainted my view of the entire concept.  For the past 20 some odd years (no I will not get more specific than that….a girl has to have some vanity ;) I have been adamant that my kids would stay in school no matter what.  I didn’t care how many hoops I had to jump through or how many ways I had to bend my kids would stay in school.  Now this works great if your kids fall into the NT (neuro- typical) group of kids.  It even worked great for my spectrum kids…..up until I moved to small town TX.   Since moving here nearly 4 years ago it has been a very different story.  Don’t get me wrong I love our town!!!  As a matter of fact, it nearly broke my heart when we considered moving to a different school district.  But four years of continuous battle to get my kids the accommodations they needed in the classroom had taken its toll.  What started out as friendly discussion had ended in a very bloody battle.  Friendships were lost, relationships damaged, careers jeopardized, and some of my boys’ education were being affected by the fall out.  I wish this was even a slight exaggeration but it’s not.    My husband and I knew sending some of our boys back was just not an option.  Private schooling is expensive when you have the number of kids we do.  Also private schools do not fall under the same federal guidelines that public schools do.  They are not obliged to follow the IDEA or many of the other laws which govern the public system.   That is not to say that there are not great private schools out there for special needs children but we were not finding any that were within our budget constraints. 
Homeschooling I had dismissed out of hand.  First of all I am not a very organized soul.  In fact I tend to fight whatever organizational binds that are placed upon me. Blame this on my artistic nature, or ADD, or rebellion….I don’t care which it is.  The fact remains I refuse to buy the same scented laundry soap twice in a row.  I get bored with the first scent before it is even done.  Finding things in my cabinets and closets is a constant adventure for my husband.  I have more than once heard “Kristine would it really kill you to put the salt in the same place twice in a row?”  Yes organization is not my cup of tea.  I know this is a huge handicap when considering homeschooling.  I understand myself enough to know that no matter how good my intentions if the system was dependent on me to be organized we were doomed before we even started.
Another strike against homeschooling was the very different needs of each my boys.  I understand all kids are different but with four of mine on the autistic spectrum I was unsure of my ability to meet each of their needs myself when a team of professionals was unable to do it in some instances. All of this added to my already prejudicial view of the entire experience pretty much ruled homeschooling out completely for our family.
That only left moving to another district.  But this again was not a good solution.  We are established in our town.  We have friends and more importantly are boys have friends.  Change is not easy on any child but my spectrum guys have a really hard time establishing relationships.  Paul is entering middle school.  I just did not know how well he would be able to reconnect at this stage in the game.
Then one day a good friend of mine shared a homeschooling solution that she thought may work for us.  It is an option that is available through the state of TX.  My boys have access to online classes, one on one teacher interaction, SPED specialist, and gifted programs.  Everything!!  It is perfect for us.  It has its own structure therefore it is not dependent on only me.  It gives me the freedom to work with my boys but the support that I need.  It is a good compromise. 
This year I am only doing three of the boys.  The program starts in 3rd grade.  My youngest is only in 1st therefore he is not eligible.  My other son is going into 3rd.  However, he has a very good, established relationship with his SPED teacher.  He is further on the spectrum than my other guys.  I was not comfortable doing him the first year.  Let me work out the kinks and maybe we’ll shoot for next year.
So there it is, my big news.  I am excited about this new direction.  I know in my gut it is the right one.  Any and all prayers are definitely welcomed.  If the past is any indicator, God will use this experience to grow me even more than my boys.  Remember to leave your comments on this blog to be entered into the giveaway.  I am posting a picture of the gift basket, sans the chocolate.  That I’ll wait to buy closer to the giveaway.  Lots of love to each of you, my friends.-Kristine

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