Of course I questioned the course to homeschool Adam when we discovered he was living with and struggling with autism! Why wouldn’t I? Hadn’t he been born into a loving, enriched unschooling environment of facilitation and nurturing guidance? But wasn’t he completely floundering . . . increasing in frustration on a daily basis by the time of his diagnosis at 3.5 years old? How could any child not flourish under such a setting? Clearly, Adam wasn’t. I was determined to discover with him what he needed in order to make sense of his world and find joy living in it.
I went through a purging where I released all my biases toward the format, setting, and parental role that worked beautifully for my first three children and opened myself wide open to receive any and all information and experiences that would show me Adam’s path to happiness. This included even looking closely at public school and special education, structured therapeutic settings, alternative environmental interventions, and first-hand accounts that could offer insight into a brand new perspective both for how Adam viewed his world and what role I could play in supporting his needs. I was starting over in many respects . . . a clean slate in order to honor who Adam is by providing him exactly what he needed.
By fully involving myself in the education process of discovery over a three month period, I was quickly able to eliminate public school and special education. The perspective I was just beginning to understand through reading, meeting other children with autism, networking with parents, working in collaboration with professionals, and simply integrating that new knowledge in how I interacted with Adam led me to the structured, home-based therapeutic intervention he craved. It was an instant connection for Adam to his world and his eyes literally sparkled with excitement, something we rarely saw in him, as he was exposed to the format, setting, and parental role that worked for him.
Later, I was able to come full circle in realizing that I had not really started all over in principle. The belief that each person knows what he/she needs still existed. Eric needed me to move out of the way and act in the capacity of helping him get access to resources. Adam needed me to partner with him in finding and bringing in what he needed and act in the capacity of interpreter between his perspective and understanding and the world he lives in. Both children showed me we were on the right path for them through the sparkle in their eyes, the smile on their lips, the joy on their face, and the drive they exhibited on their individual learning path.