Category Archives: March

My Attitude #2

Recently I was interested to note that a post called ‘My Attitude‘ is one of the most popular on my blog.  I couldn’t quite remember what it was about so I’ve re-read it and thought I would reflect on where I am now.  So here goes.

  • I am  much more interest-led these days.  If the girls show an interest in anything, I have learnt to value it (even if it means watching Frozen three times a day or playing Animal Crosssing for hours on end).  I can see learning in everything, and I still tend to link (in my mind and on this blog, never to the girls) this learning back to school subjects, which I think will probably wear off as I deschool myself.
  • Rather than getting the girls to do what *I* think they should be doing, I am much more inclined to join them in their interests instead.  If there’s something I think they’ll be interested in then I try to strew it instead.  As for maths (which is something I was evidently concerned about in my post) we generally don’t study it as a subject but it crops up everywhere anyway.
  • I think we’re still a long way from M or D becoming self-directed learners *but* since last June M has lost a lot of anger towards learning and will now proudly talk about things she knows to family and friends… or anyone.
  • I spend a lot of time sitting with the girls, joining them in whatever they’re doing.  Probably too much time, judging by the housework.

So.  All this sounds like I’ve progressed well in my attitude.  But.  I still have a way to go.  I’m always trying to push myself as a parent (particularly as I seem to have landed myself with a pair of sausages that continually push me to question my beliefs and ideas) and I’ve read many books on parenting to help me along the way.  I’ve just finished a book called ‘Autism Breakthrough‘ which has added a new dimension to my attitude.  It’s actually about reaching out and helping your autistic child but I think the majority of it could be applied to a neuro-typical child too.

In a nutshell, the book is about ’embracing without judgement where your child is today, while believing that she can go anywhere tomorrow’.  In the final chapter, the book talks about how your attitude can effect your child developmentally and it asks you to work towards changing just one of your beliefs in order to have a lasting impact on her trajectory.  Perhaps I haven’t explained that in the best way possible but if you’re really interested then I highly recommend you get the book!

So, in regard to M (I was reading this book with M in mind) here is the first belief I have about her that I plan on changing.

  1. Event or circumstance: If I try to explain something to her, she is quick to say she doesn’t understand, when I’ve barely finished my sentence.  It is pointless me trying to explain it differently because she sticks with ‘I don’t understand’ even though I feel she isn’t even listening to me.  If I try and break it down/start again I get the same response.  Sometimes this dialogue ends in tears (hers) sometimes she says ‘it doesn’t matter’ in a huffy voice, sometimes I finish it by saying we’ll talk about it later (while trying to avoid a huffy voice).
  2. How you feel/felt: Angry and frustrated.  I KNOW she is highly intelligent.  I can tell by the sort of questions she asks.  But she seems blocked by something.  Fear?  Or is it her possible ASD?  I also feel sad for her because she’s told me in the past she doesn’t think she’s clever.
  3. Belief fueling this emotion: If she freed herself up a bit she could do/learn more and maybe then feel less ‘stupid’.
  4. Alternate belief to adopt: When she says she doesn’t understand, I could actually believe her!  So what if she doesn’t understand at this point in time?  One day she will, in her own time.

So I will check back in 10 months time and see how I get on!

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Loving the Loo Rolls

If anybody asks me what is an absolute essential to home educate, I always answer: loo rolls.  We seem to use up tons of them as the girls are regularly pulling out the junk modelling box to make something they can see in their mind’s eye.  They’re so popular there was even a fight over who had the most loo rolls today.

We’re using them even more now because recently we’ve been going back to basics with our HE resources.  By this I mean that I’ve stopped buying any more!

A few months ago, J decided to quit his job and go self-employed (with my support).  Up until that time we were lucky enough to let the girls attend any classes they desired, and I could supply them with any number of books and supplies I thought would interest them.

With a much reduced income, I have put a total halt on purchases I might have made from Amazon (my wishlist is getting longer and longer) and drastically cut their classes (which was fine as it turned out they were a bit ‘meh’ about them anyway).

It’s interesting that these sorts of changes are never as bad as you think they’re going to be, and can even change your life for the better.

For instance, I’ve cut back on tons of house-keeping stuff: I had a cleaner who has since been ditched and I’ve kind of embraced the cleaning some-what.  I’m not saying I’m up for appearing on ‘How Clean is Your House’ but I’m a lot more into it than I used to be;  I’ve ditched loads of cleaning products in favour of micro-fibre cloths – who knew that water could do as well as polish/bathroom cleaner/floor cleaner/window cleaner?; I’ve even ditched shampoo.  Yes, I really have.  Admittedly, that was more because I seem to be intolerant to most of them, but it’s a great saving nonetheless.  I’ve made a load of other ‘Martin Lewis’ style changes but I won’t bore you with them all.

As for HE – there are so many groups and outings to go to, I now seriously consider each one as to whether I think the girls would actually love to go or whether it’s actually me who would love it more.  At home, I have been pulling out long-forgotten resources that I bought long ago and haven’t been looked at much.  I found stuff I’d forgotten I had, and probably would have re-bought if I hadn’t found them.  The sausages are quite accepting of the fact that we don’t have a lot of money to spend and they already have more toys than they have time to play with.   They’re really good at making games with very little (for instance, we have recently done a Frozen inspired coronation with a home-made orb and sceptre and today they were both raiding the junk modelling box again: D to make a car, M to continue making a tree house for a doll).

I keep thinking thank goodness the girls aren’t not in school: we can whittle down our outgoings to very little without worrying about school uniforms, shoes (the sausages live in wellies),petrol, school trips and all the other things you’re expected to donate towards.

I have to say that were we to become better-off again, I would probably stick with most of the changes we’ve made, although I may buy a bit more from Amazon.  I kind of like living a simplified life and am now wondering how stupid I was to waste so much money on stuff we didn’t need!

Amazing Artistry

I feel like my head is so full and busy lately.  Usually I use this blog to clear my mind but I haven’t been able to untangle all the thoughts going through my head to do so.

The majority of my thoughts are regarding M’s suspected ASD.  We were rejected from the multi-disciplinary team because they don’t deal with ASD anymore.  Our GP then referred us to CAMHS instead who rejected us for the most LUDICROUS reasons:

  1. They don’t do assessments just because a parent asks for them (wtf? Why shouldn’t a parent have the authority to request an assessment?!)
  2. The list of symptoms I had provided weren’t enough proof of ASD (duh – I had seen all the symptoms in Tony Attwood’s book!)
  3. They needed further evidence from school (Again, duh.  Firstly, if they had actually read my evidence then they would have known that we home educate.  Secondly, M hid all her ASD symptoms from school so further evidence would have been impossible to obtain!)

Can you tell I’m slightly narked by this?  I am still wondering about sending a scathing letter in reply but I haven’t got the mental energy right now.  Besides, if CAMHS are this stupid and ignorant, what’s the likelihood of being taken seriously at an assessment?

So the upshot of all this is that we’ve decided to approach an NHS Consultant Paediatrician who also does private work.  She comes with lots of good recommendations so I’m full of hope.

Meanwhile, I am trying to marry up ASD strategies with our unschooling perspective.  Thanks to some wonderfully supportive and informative people on an unschooling Facebook group, I’ve found Son-Light.  It’s a totally unique approach to Autism which, although it’s been around for a few decades, is still pretty radical.  I like radical.  I’m halfway through the book and so far nearly all of it is sitting very well with me.

I’m on a very steep learning curve and I’m trying not to feel overwhelmed by it all!

In other news…

We’ve been enjoying the spring weather…

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M is still very into Animal Crossing: yesterday she was petitioning residents!  D hasn’t been on the computer very much, but she’s done a little Minecraft, Numberjacks Mission to Learn and Teach Your Monster to Read.

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D is still very much enjoying dressing up as a princess.  She made herself an orb like Elsa’s from Frozen the other day!

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D has really impressed me with how much she has concentrated on tasks lately: she copied some complicated Hama bead designs; designed some clothes for her paper doll; played for well over an hour with Anna from Frozen’s ice hand; and made lots and lots of ‘sewn’ constellation cards.

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However, she did struggle at our latest outing: we were lucky enough to get last minute tickets to go to the Royal Albert Hall with a group of other HEers to see Classical Spectacular.  It really was spectacular!  M adored it – she loved the music, the lights, the fireworks and the loud cannons that boomed at the end.  This photo doesn’t really do it justice.

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M has been spending a lot of time perfecting some Frozen figures that she wants to make into puppets.  I am quite in awe of her drawing of Elsa.  She’s 8!  8!

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We have continued to enjoy our new local HE group:

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And finally, I’ll end with D’s Van Gogh masterpiece!  Isn’t it incredible?!  She’s 5!  5!

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Pirates, Science and Maths

There’s been an ongoing pirate theme this week (which ties in with us continuing to read Peter and Wendy) as D has begun an imaginary game that she plays daily, which is about being a pirate in Neverland, finding treasure and firing at other pirate ships.  I’m not one for imaginary games but this one is quite easy for me as I am basically the ship that D sails on.

To give her an idea of what an actual pirate ship looks like, we went to visit the Golden Hinde today (Sir Francis Drake was just a fancy pirate, after all).  It was so tiny!  J and I were amazed that he managed to sail around the world and plunder Spanish gold in a boat half the size of our house!

It was a fleeting visit as we had to leave the ship before the school parties arrived but it was fun while it lasted.

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After that, we walked over London Bridge (admiring the sights as we went) to see the monument that was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London.  J declined to go up as he suffers with vertigo but we three climbed the 311 steps to get to the top.  Hmm.  Altogether it was decidedly creepy: the viewing platform was covered with a wire mesh rather than a proper balustrade like at St Paul’s and, although we couldn’t have fallen through it, it made us feel decidedly wobbly about being up there.  Also, the spiral staircase was quite narrow and dark, which added to the creepiness!

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We got back home early afternoon and now I’m pooped but the girls are very lively – M is upstairs making a den for all her toys while D plays on Monument Valley on the iPad and chatters away.

The rest of the week has been spent:

At our HE group, Curious Minds: the girls decorated and made paper aeroplanes and played with shapes on an overhead projector.

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Lots of reading with D: We’re into another sleeping phase now where D gets up early and M falls asleep late, meaning that I can get some quality time with both but I don’t get a lot of quality time to myself!  However, it is probably a phase that won’t last and once the nights get lighter I think they’ll both be staying up later again.

So in the mornings, I’ve been doing lots of reading with D, before M gets up.  She loves pouring over the Maps book, looking at the different continents, the varying popular childrens’ names, mountains and volcanoes.  It’s tying in nicely with what we’ve learnt about Earth’s tectonic plates in How the World Works.  We’ve also spent some time figuring out how the earth turns on it’s axis and how that affects the seasons.

We also looked up Germany in our Maps book after the girls had watched all three Chronicles of Narnia films.  They had a few questions on WW2 (including whether I was alive then!) and I was very tempted to take them to the Imperial War Museum this week but I just wondered if D might find it a little upsetting (recently we visited Postman’s Park in the City of London, which has little tiles in it that commemorates those in history who died saving others: I got tearful reading the tiles out to the girls and D found it difficult to cope with the sadness of it all).

I also showed her Usborne’s See Inside Science, which is a lovely step up from her current science/space books.  It includes a basic introduction to space, life, DNA, periodic table, atoms, molecules and cells.  She seemed to enjoy it and I learnt a lot too!

Over the weekend, J did a mammoth amount of play with the girls – there was Judo and a trip to Battersea Park on Saturday (they were out of the house for 5 hours!) and then swimming with 2 of their friends and their Dads at Guildford Spectrum.  During which time I caught up with a lot of housework and did a bit of reading on Aspergers.

M has spent a lot of time on Animal Crossing this week (although she did have two days break while we waited for a new charger because Morris had eaten the old one!).  I’ve been noting down a few of the things she has been learning while playing: reading new words and 4-digit numbers; percentages; colloquialisms; telling the time; learning types of fish, insects and dinosaurs; saving up and patience (it’s a slow game).

There isn’t any artwork to show this week: both girls are still working on their Van Gogh masterpieces in their art class – I can’t wait to post them up, they’re INCREDIBLE!  Instead, I’ll end with a bar chart that I helped D to make: J got all her soft toys out and got her to count them all and we then made a bar chart with the results.  Natural maths at it’s best!

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