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Xposting in LAHAB.

Not sure what to do. My 7yo ds has mild Asperger's and we've been through holy heck with him (PROFOUNDLY delayed as an infant--to the point of suspected cerebral palsy, through countless therapies and interventions, in different daycare/preschool programs until we pulled him at the pre-k year and kept him home). He tested gifted as he was entering the K year (and exiting SpEd services). We've already had some bullying incidents with kids on the block. :( Under control now, but requires a LOT of extra work on behalf of all of the parents (and we're moving in 2mo).

He's been home and I think it's been good because in the last 2 years we got a surprise adopted daughter (she was a SafeHaven baby just as our license was going to expire), lost a baby in 2nd trimester, lost the two people closest to me in my life, had to relocate out of state, and move 4 times related to that... blah, blah, blah... it's been rough. I think it was good he was home during that.

But he has zero motivation to do anything other than watch TV and play Pokemon cards. He gets limited screen time because it makes him extremely aggressive. He has zero desire to do anything of any educational value at home and I haven't really pushed it because we understand that delayed academics works.

The problem is that maybe for him, delayed academics wasn't the way to go. We had him in a Montessori around 4yo (it was the last school he attended) and they agreed he simply needed more structure. And as he enters what would be his 2nd grade year and I look at actually teaching him, I'm concerned about the pushback I'm going to get.

He's taken a few enrichment classes through the homeschool coop and done alright. But this morning I went to see a Montessori for my 2-1/2yo for part time next year and couldn't find care for ds. Of course, he loved it (he loves any place that has kids there). But I kind of liked it, too. It was EXTREMELY community-oriented and went through high school. The older kids mentor and look out for the younger kids and among other things, there is a gentle self-regulation of social rules. And they do a field trip every Friday in addition to travel trips every year (last year they went to Italy--next year to Boston for US History which is ds' favorite subject).

So on one hand, I feel like it COULD be a great place for ds. On the other hand, I'm wondering how they're going to inspire that "intrinsic motivation" that he completely lacks... and what if they can't? He's not a neurotypical kid--so I can't just sit back and accept the whole "No, no, dear--they all come around" because they don't generally account for kids in the spectrum with that stuff.

I've spent these years figuring out how he might best learn and have finally nailed down some curriculums for specific subjects that I think would fit us best... and bought it all. I just don't know how to get him from a "we won't do it if he's not interested" mode to actually learning (and sorry, but I can't completely unschool--I don't know that he'll never have to enter a school). And I know I can't replicate the social learning of a closely supervised, gently community of children. THAT is VERY appealing. He has done so well with close supervision and mentoring of social situations so far, but we're now at a stage where mommy isn't really cutting it. :/

If you've read this far... thank you. If you have insights or advice, thank you more!
 

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Heather, we've just decided to keep DS at school. He has SPD, dysgraphia, vision and motor issues, and is EG. He doesn't meet criteria for an ASD, but has traits. We did a fair bit of EI, had a terrible kindie year in public school and HS'd grade 1. We had planned to keep HSing, until we stumbled upon a great program that looked like it would fit. He's in year 2 of the program and it ends for him this year. On balance, it was the best thing for him. He learned things we couldn't have taught him in the same period (social skills, self-regulation, working within a group are top of mind, but there are others). I don't think it's done much of anything for him "academically," but he's very self-directed and I'm not worried about early elementary academic skills. Thinking of it as living ones life in chapters, for my child this period is best spent learning about his social world in a supportive environment. We're going to try one more year (same school, regular program), but are prepared to bring him home if it's not working.

I've come to the conclusion that my kid's a real outlier, as a 2E kid. His course is going to be circuitous and unique. It will often be imperfect and involve compromise. But so long as his trajectory is positive, I'll have faith that imperfect is going to have to be ok. Don't know if that helps any. I just can empathize with your situation, and this is how I've had to reconcile it with myself.
 

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I empathize too. We used to homeschool, then DD went to public school for a year, and she now attends a private alternative school. She really needs teachers other than me, and she needs to be out of the house. Her sensory avoidance is such that without pushing, her world contracts and contracts until she is just sitting on her bed, not wanting to leave the room or touch anything.

I bought into all the Unschooling stuff when my kids were really small, and while it may be fine for some kids, the reality is that Asperger's DD needs to have information presented to her in an organized way. Her brain just wasn't wired for unschooling.

She also gets a lot of energy from the other students and is FAR more motivated to work in a group than she ever was a home.

I have mixed feelings about our history of homeschooling. On one hand, every thing I've ever done for my kids was done from love and truly wanting what was best for them. At the same time, I think I was misguided and believed that just because something worked for someone else's child, that meant it would work for mine.

With hindsight, I believe that thinking that a parent can work on social skills with a child while they are primary at home is foolish, and that the amount of driving around to make all that quality interaction happen, while planning interesting educational things for the child to do and running a home, is unrealistic. That's my take on unschooling a special needs kid -- it's unrealistic long term.

And very few homeschooling moms get any time to themselves -- for years and years. Having spent so many years in the homeschooling community, I feel like the emporer has no clothes.

For us, the transition to school was difficult and figuring out what accommodations DD needed was a process. Figuring out what kind of school would work best for her was trail and error.

She's in a great place now and is VERY happy, but it didn't happen over night.

Could you arrange for a short trail at the school to see how it goes? At my DDs school, a 3 day visit is standard before a child can be admitted.
 

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I have managed to homeschool my son (PDD NOS -- pretty much AS with a severe language delay). We did try school but he was badly bullied/ rejected and while the school did make effort to help he was so traumatized by it that we had to withdraw him. He had PTSD from the experience and it took him about a year to get back to more or less normal (well, his normal lol).

As far as motivation, the only thing that ever worked with my son was offering computer/ video game time as a bribe/reward for doing what was asked of him. As he got older we started giving him an allowance for chores, so money works too (which he promptly spends on VG). If he doesn't do homeschool on a particular day he doesn't use the computer/ VG, and no one in the house uses VG before 4pm, so even if he finishes early he has to find some other way to occupy himself. I have to have an almost military set of rules with him, but because he is so rule based it works well with him.

You could try the school but be prepared for the worst just in case-- and if he is bullied you probably should remove him, as bullying situations with AS kids can get so severe.
 

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Mine sees school as party time. And other children doing work is just a challenge: get them to stop working and start playing. It's almost like a 3yo or a puppy. No amount of time in an environment gets him to "catch on" or stop doing this. He often gets to the point of having to be removed.

He's already been bullied. The social situation at the Montessori is the only thing I'm really attracted to. TINY school (I think they have about 50 kids now 3-18yo and max out at 75) and the community COULD be a great thing for him the way they have it set up (older kids are assigned to "mentor" a younger child, lots of community regulation of behavior with close adult supervision) or it could be a disaster.

I think when people think of "unschooling" they envision the radical unschoolers who just let the kids pick up everything by proxy. I don't know many unschoolers like that. And I wouldn't be doing that by a longshot regardless. :) In fact, this is partially my hesitation with the Montessori: I don't particularly care for him to be given the latitude he's likely to get there.

As for who he'll learn better from, I'm not sure he'd learn better from someone else any better than with me. He's been in coop classes. I have him enrolled in an academic one for next year (math--we could drop it if need be). But traditionally, he's only really receptive to ANYone when 1) it's new (so that lasts about 1/4 of the total class time); and/or 2) it's fun.

We "bribe"/reward for Wii time (he earns beads) for behavior although we're now working with a therapist on behavior, too (which is going alright, but again--novelty is wearing off). In fact, for as much as he loves the Wii (we got it in January or Feb) he's even waned with earning beads for it already (and this is after a few months of earning MAYBE 30 mins/week--so little that we implemented a "family Wii tournament" on Sunday nights to encourage him more). He is more motivated when he sees other Scouts earning belt loops that he hasn't earned (although by "motivated" I mean: has a meltdown that he didn't earn anything, threatens to quit Scouts, but then I can encourage him to do some work to earn the belt loop and remind him that his Scout friends did these things).

*sigh*

I don't see one thing as the best thing overall. I guess I'm just looking for input on things I may not have considered so I can choose the lesser of the evils. Public school is a definite and absolute NO. I already have problems with the kids on the block with better supervision than he'll have at the school. And these are relatively good kids (and all in his age range--we have THIRTEEN kids between K-3 on the block where we'll be living until early July... and then, nothing. :( )
 

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Our DS home schooled for a year. At the time he was diagnosed with ADHD, tics, fine motor and visual processing speed delays and the social problems were considered secondary, but now he is being evaluated for Asperger's/high functioning autism. We don't regret the homeschooling because we felt we all needed some time from a rather negative school start the first year and to find out more what we needed to do to help. However, this is why we returned to school:

  • Therapy services were able to be offered through school, which meant less crazy commuting and and schedule juggling frustrating the whole family
  • Being exposed to a broad social circle with all sorts of people, not just the sorts involved in homeschooling. I know there are lots of ways to provide kids with social stimulation, but things like sports and homeschooling groups and other such activities don't always have the range of people you see in a school. Kids on the autism spectrum or with social disabilities need lots of exposure to all sorts of situations.
  • We get to see other perspectives on our child and the teachers can fill in gaps we find harder to fill. we can still enrich his learning through what we do at home.
  • We had a pretty structured homeschooling method, but the school still has more consistent structure. It's so easy to get caught up with other things at home and lose structure. We find our son is very happy being in a more structured situation.

Our other children weren't being overwhelmed by us constantly attending to DS's educational needs. We were finding it hard to find one n one time with the other kids.

Anyhow, that's just how it worked for us. Everyone's different, but I do think that whatever you decide, it's important not to go it all alone. Parenting is very hard work with any child, and when your child isn't neuro typical, this is even more so.
 

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Just know that there are no right or wrong decisions on your journey. You can go step by step and them reverse or change direction! Only you know your child and you can give yourself permission to feel your way through this, and o what you need to at any time.

Check out John Holt's , Learning All The Time.

Also Sandra Dodd's

Unschooling website

These people have made me reconsider what learning and success is.

Also listen and read to anything John Taylor Gatto,

This will help you understand the driving force behind our ( parents and society) behind our beliefs about school.

Just a Bald Man-- This parent has a very interesting and dynamic blog about challenging OUR inner beliefs as parents!

Good Luck!!

barbara
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
yaboobarb... I have read most of that, but thanks for the blog link--that's a new one for me. I read more than one of Gatto & Holt's work. I was a public school teacher and Gatto's "Dumbing Us Down" was such a "YES! YES! YES!" read for me. But I know it can change if it doesn't work. We've done it twice: first putting him in a school setting when I'd hoped to homeschool and then when we pulled him three years ago. I'm just trying to minimize the change.

FarmerBeth... we no longer qualify for SpEd therapies and don't see the need in finding them privately outside of a therapist helping us with things more related to the upheaval of our family for the last two years (relocation, multiple deaths, etc). As for broadening social circles, we'll have to agree to disagree. I just relocated from the East Coast to the midwest. There is no diversity. Period. Not where I am, anyway. I am also not without other people's input on my son. In addition to the parents on the block (most of them former teachers), he has homeschool coop teachers, and sports coaches in addition to the objective eye I've had to grow since he started evaluations 7 years ago. I value their input. Sometimes they point out that I'm not seeing progress where it exists. So that part--I'm not really concerned about. But it's an excellent point.
 

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so you've ruled out public school, are currently homeschooling but he has no motivation to do anything, and you have a third option you are considering, but part of you doesn't have any hope that it will work either?

What is the least committment you could give the private school? Will they allow him to visit for a day (or three) to see how it goes?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg

But he has zero motivation to do anything other than watch TV and play Pokemon cards. He gets limited screen time because it makes him extremely aggressive. He has zero desire to do anything of any educational value at home and I haven't really pushed it because we understand that delayed academics works.
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

Mine sees school as party time. And other children doing work is just a challenge: get them to stop working and start playing. It's almost like a 3yo or a puppy. No amount of time in an environment gets him to "catch on" or stop doing this. He often gets to the point of having to be removed.

He's already been bullied. The social situation at the Montessori is the only thing I'm really attracted to. TINY school (I think they have about 50 kids now 3-18yo and max out at 75) and the community COULD be a great thing for him the way they have it set up (older kids are assigned to "mentor" a younger child, lots of community regulation of behavior with close adult supervision) or it could be a disaster.

As for who he'll learn better from, I'm not sure he'd learn better from someone else any better than with me. He's been in coop classes. I have him enrolled in an academic one for next year (math--we could drop it if need be). But traditionally, he's only really receptive to ANYone when 1) it's new (so that lasts about 1/4 of the total class time); and/or 2) it's fun.

We "bribe"/reward for Wii time (he earns beads) for behavior although we're now working with a therapist on behavior, too (which is going alright, but again--novelty is wearing off). In fact, for as much as he loves the Wii (we got it in January or Feb) he's even waned with earning beads for it already (and this is after a few months of earning MAYBE 30 mins/week--so little that we implemented a "family Wii tournament" on Sunday nights to encourage him more). He is more motivated when he sees other Scouts earning belt loops that he hasn't earned (although by "motivated" I mean: has a meltdown that he didn't earn anything, threatens to quit Scouts, but then I can encourage him to do some work to earn the belt loop and remind him that his Scout friends did these things).

*sigh*

I don't see one thing as the best thing overall. I guess I'm just looking for input on things I may not have considered so I can choose the lesser of the evils. Public school is a definite and absolute NO. I already have problems with the kids on the block with better supervision than he'll have at the school. And these are relatively good kids (and all in his age range--we have THIRTEEN kids between K-3 on the block where we'll be living until early July... and then, nothing. :( )
Has he been evaluated for ADHD?

I'm wondering because a lot of this behavior sounds like my ds who has an ADHD diagnosis (and takes medication for, which enables him to function in school) and a possible Asperger's diagnosis [the developmental ped said that he appears to meet the criteria but that he was a little young for diagnosis and that the ADHD complicates the picture (she went into a lot more detail than that; apparently the diagnostic team spent a lot of time debating this point. We will reevaluate in a year - added maturity and addressing some of his other issues may give us a clearer picture. ]

Ds' kindergarten year was horrid and the school handled it badly; they said that "they" didn't consider ADHD before 2nd or 3rd grade, completely dropped the ball on Child Find, and basically treated him as a behavior problem. We move ds to a charter school (traditional model with STEM emphasis) and the staff has been great in dealing with him (he has a superstar teacher that I love
luxlove.gif
;o) and the special ed department has been really helpful. The school only knew about his ADHD/ODD diagnosis until last week, but when we gave the SpEd teacher his hospital behavior clinic evaluation at his 504 review they saw that he was likely eligible for services (like ST, and behavior help-forgot what that is called) and scheduled evaluations for him. Ds has had a lot of issues socially but things have gotten a lot better--his primary antagonist was moved to the other class around spring break, the social skills that his teacher has been working on with him began to sink in, and another boy that he used to argue with a lot is now his best buddy at school
headscratch.gif
.

So I wouldn't discount public schools in general and recommended evaluating them individually. Also, schools other than your assigned school probably won't have your neighbors, so if that is an issue in your new location you could look into charters or check if your district has open enrollment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Public school is, for the most, completely out. For a very, very long list of reasons that have nothing to do with our specific district. We'd have to be in a pretty dire situation to even consider it and each carry a $1M life insurance policy to ensure that if one of us dies, it doesn't become a requirement as opposed to an option. The kids in my neighborhood are a blessing and a curse because although there have been bullying incidents, most of the kids parents have been working with their kids and the ones that aren't just require supervision that makes life annoying but not impossible. And those kids are on the rest of the parents watch list--so they're ALL watching those kids closely.

He is flagged for ADHD and Asperger's but like the pp, still only 7-1/2yo and these dx's are supposed to hold off until they're 8yo. His developmental history is very severe so really, either or both of these is a blessing by comparison to where he was.

He's not really motivated. That being said, we've not felt the need to push him much. He was reading at 3yo and I only intermittently tried to engage him in learning. We were going "delayed academics" and that meant not pushing too hard until his 2nd grade year (this coming fall).

I'm really thinking that with the 2-1/2yo at the Montessori next year we will have the ability to focus on a real routine and see how that works. The Montessori is extremely flexible and dh and I talked about maybe staying the course, not worrying so much about whether ds will actually do work (who knows... maybe with a strong routine and the lack of little sister interruption giving him undivided attention and therefore less resentment--he will do the work) and know that the Montessori would be the next thing to try if need be.

He is overscheduled (by most people's standards) for the summer and we're now thinking that might be great for easing him into getting up and doing stuff every day. We love camp season. :D

Thanks all. Please believe me that I have read every response and considered it even when it wasn't something I thought I'd be interested in... truly. I am always open to being shown something that I may not have considered about a situation no matter how strongly I feel about it. I just don't want my statement about public school to be misconstrued to mean that I didn't strongly look at those responses and truly consider the things each of you shared because I truly did. Thank you again.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

He's not really motivated. That being said, we've not felt the need to push him much. He was reading at 3yo and I only intermittently tried to engage him in learning. We were going "delayed academics" and that meant not pushing too hard until his 2nd grade year (this coming fall).

I'm really thinking that with the 2-1/2yo at the Montessori next year we will have the ability to focus on a real routine and see how that works. The Montessori is extremely flexible and dh and I talked about maybe staying the course, not worrying so much about whether ds will actually do work (who knows... maybe with a strong routine and the lack of little sister interruption giving him undivided attention and therefore less resentment--he will do the work) and know that the Montessori would be the next thing to try if need be.
It sounds like you have a plan that you are very comfortable with, and a back up plan that you also feel positive about! I hope it all goes well for you.
 

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heather, have you worked witha behavior therapist about his lack of motivation? It could be that because he's exceptionally bright and gets bored easily you need to really challenge him to solve problems, try new approaches, etc. He may need the "right" motivators and a behavioral therapist can help you dig into his interests to find them.
 

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Originally Posted by beachcomber View Post

heather, have you worked witha behavior therapist about his lack of motivation? It could be that because he's exceptionally bright and gets bored easily you need to really challenge him to solve problems, try new approaches, etc. He may need the "right" motivators and a behavioral therapist can help you dig into his interests to find them.
We are in therapy now with a PsyD who specializes in these types of things and has worked with Aspie's and ADHD kids before. Ds tested off the charts for giftedness, but I have some trepidation about the results: although there were subtests for his actual ability to work things out, a lot of it was recall. And really, when you have a kid with an autistic memory that started reading at 3yo (nothing but non-fiction because at that age, they don't grasp the subtleties of fiction), that's a good 2 years of feeding the "recall database". One of the camps he's going to now is through Northwestern U's gifted program.

Since I posted my initial post, ds appears to have suddenly taken interest in "school work". I think this is the result of going to a Scholastic warehouse sale where we scored the entire collection of Magic Treehouse books including some research guides that he was itching to get into. We are leaning toward a very Charlotte Mason method--which should work well with his willingness to read.

Finding true motivators has been difficult. We are very much against the "work for reward" thing because as a high school teacher, I saw WAY too much "what's in it for me/pay for play" attitude and I really want my son to WANT to learn--and find the right way to approach it to truly inspire him vs. move his arse as I want him to. I'm REEEEEEEALLY hoping the Charlotte Mason stuff is the route. But yeah, I think we've come to a plan.
 

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Heather, I totally get your reluctance to pair learning with a tangible reward. I saw a lot of "what's in it for me" in the 2nd year uni students I worked with who had no idea how to work for the pleasure of achievement, the feeling of pride and the knowledge that you've gained something just by learning. It really startled me how much they lack in community responsibility and such. I'm hoping to teach my DD that by demonstrating the value of learning for sake of it, the good we can do as we contribute to the communities we are part of , etc., etc.

I've also found with her that rewards don't always have to be tangible things. She loves time on her bike out front, time on the swing in the back yard, etc. She really loves going to a favorite park. All these can be used as rewards and they encourage her to be active, to boot! Maybe you can use rewards in a way that isn't candies, stickers, chocolate or marbles in a jar. Heh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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Originally Posted by beachcomber View Post

I've also found with her that rewards don't always have to be tangible things. She loves time on her bike out front, time on the swing in the back yard, etc. She really loves going to a favorite park. All these can be used as rewards and they encourage her to be active, to boot! Maybe you can use rewards in a way that isn't candies, stickers, chocolate or marbles in a jar. Heh.
No, I get that rewards don't have to be tangible. But at the end of the day, a reward is still a reward and it's doing work to earn something instead of doing the work because either you want to or you just feel the responsibility to do it. It's just something I'd rather not get into with him at this age. When he gets older he will understand that receiving a paycheck is dictated by you doing work. I just don't want it to be the only reason he does stuff.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

Finding true motivators has been difficult. We are very much against the "work for reward" thing because as a high school teacher, I saw WAY too much "what's in it for me/pay for play" attitude...
Ok, but your child is not a typical child, he is wired differently.

We were saying the same thing when ds was 5, but then realized (even before diagnosis) that working for the "good of the team" would NOT motivate him at that point--his reaction was
shrug.gif
while my younger dd is all
energy.gif
"go team!". The reward system of motivation is basically about building a store of "little victories" for children that otherwise don't have many--The better ds feels about himself the easier it is to get him to do things. With spectrum and ADHD children we are also working with a child with about 30% of the emotional maturity of typical child.

We all work for rewards, even if it is just for the warm fuzzies of helping someone or doing what is expected of us.

http://www.autism-help.org/behavior-motivation-autism.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
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Originally Posted by Emmeline II View Post

Ok, but your child is not a typical child, he is wired differently.

We were saying the same thing when ds was 5, but then realized (even before diagnosis) that working for the "good of the team" would NOT motivate him at that point--his reaction was
shrug.gif
while my younger dd is all
energy.gif
"go team!". The reward system of motivation is basically about building a store of "little victories" for children that otherwise don't have many--The better ds feels about himself the easier it is to get him to do things. With spectrum and ADHD children we are also working with a child with about 30% of the emotional maturity of typical child.

We all work for rewards, even if it is just for the warm fuzzies of helping someone or doing what is expected of us.

http://www.autism-help.org/behavior-motivation-autism.htm
Thanks for this. I guess the reward system throws me back to ABA training--when I didn't want him TRAINED to make eye contact, I just wanted him to WANT to make it... kwim? But I never really looked at this stuff, now, like that. He presents so NT most of the time that I often forget that he's not. It's a blessing and a curse. I can't even begin to tell you how that knocked us on our arses at Disney.
crap.gif
 

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Have you tried to use his special interests (pokemon?) in his schooling? You could use pokemon for loads of lessons in just about anything, which may help him to become more motivated in learning and expand his interests in other things as well. I have Asperger's and had a lot of the same problems your son has with finding an interest in anything other than my special interest. Honestly the only time I did learn something in school was when I could relate it to animals. I did incredibly poorly in school because of that and my issues with executive dysfunction. Executive dysfunction is a common aspie problem, does your son have issues with this? Because of this, I think that unschooling may not work the best for many aspie children, it certainly wouldn't have worked for me as I needed a very clear set of instructions and lay out in order to get things done and learn.
 

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Originally Posted by RabbitMomma View Post

Have you tried to use his special interests (pokemon?) in his schooling? You could use pokemon for loads of lessons in just about anything, which may help him to become more motivated in learning and expand his interests in other things as well. I have Asperger's and had a lot of the same problems your son has with finding an interest in anything other than my special interest. Honestly the only time I did learn something in school was when I could relate it to animals. I did incredibly poorly in school because of that and my issues with executive dysfunction. Executive dysfunction is a common aspie problem, does your son have issues with this? Because of this, I think that unschooling may not work the best for many aspie children, it certainly wouldn't have worked for me as I needed a very clear set of instructions and lay out in order to get things done and learn.
In my initial post I said I wouldn't unschool him. Not sure you saw that. This post was about homeschooling him, not unschooling him.

I'm not sure about him having executive functioning problems. He doesn't have screaming symptoms of it and really, some of the tell-tale stuff would be more evident in activities he'd be doing when he's older vs. now. As of right now, I could see traces of this being misconstrued for ADHD, but I don't know.

If you have a hard time finding interest in anything other than your personal interests, how do you manage to get work done at your job?
 
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