Our son is six, a beautiful, intelligent, articulate and funny boy. He also happens to have complex learning difficulties, some co-ordination and balance problems and traits of Aspergers Syndrome.
We now home educate him because school turned out to be the most unsuitable place possible for him. At five he was desperately unhappy after a year of being dragged kicking and screaming to school and his anxiety was having a terrible effect on his behaviour at home, he was hiding from close family, picking the skin from his fingers and looking a grey shadow of himself - it was heartbreaking. We saw many specialists, and even tried a different school but our son was still a wreck and his confidence badly damaged by seeing himself falling further behind his peers in reading and writing. The fact that he was good at maths didn't count because he couldn't record his answers and excellent at building difficult models or knowing all about the body's immune system wasn't seen as important.
Our son could not cope with the noise, the regime and the other children especially in the playground because he finds socialising so difficult and because he had all sorts of learning problems and balance and coordination difficulties, it was impossible for him to learn in a classroom or even in a small group. Everyone said he needed one-to-one to learn and he was getting 20 minutes per week at school. We pushed for him to get a statement thinking this would help but just as we received it we realised school could never deliver as much one-to-one as we could at home.
Within a few weeks of finding out home education was legal we realised it was actually our only option - we knew he would certainly be happier at home and then he might stand a chance of making some progress and building his confidence back up. Once we made the decision, it was a weight lifted from all of our shoulders. We also have a daughter who is nearly four and the difference is striking - she wants to learn to read and write, loves playgroup and is already looking forward to going to school later this year.
Most of the time we're quite sure about what we're doing but sometimes we'll have a little panic that our son isn't learning enough, and times of me (Mum) feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of it all but then we stop and realise that home education is still much better for him at the moment. He still has very complex learning difficulties and has been put off doing any work by that year or so in school and as a result little of what we do is anything like I thought I'd do with him. He is impossible to direct, he finds it hard to concentrate and he seems to find it really difficult to learn anything other than what he asks about, so I just have to work with this and seize on each and every learning opportunity. At the moment I try to help him learn through his interests and through play and he is in fact learning a great deal - about the world, science, business, money, food, nature, history, following instructions, using computers and after all he's a six year old - so he's having lots of fun and lots of days out to parks, castles, woods, museums to vary the week and stir up interests in new things.
Also to encourage him to spend time with others and to give myself a break he has several short sessions with two different teachers who are doing all the pre-reading/pre-writing activities in a fun way through art and craft and games. He enjoys these sessions and always comes out with a bounce in his step as they are one-to-one, high interest, no pressure and lots of praise - such a shame school couldn't do this. Also we have a home educated teenage girl come in twice a week to "play" with him and sometimes his sister.
We do try to go to local home education group activities although my son doesn't yet enjoy them as much as me. He sees as many friends from his old school as he can cope with and plays happily with children we meet up with at play areas or the pool.
He's much happier, calmer, and becoming open to learning. As a family we are also more relaxed and enjoying our lives again. His SEN makes his behaviour difficult to understand but one of the best things about home education is that I am spending a lot of time with him and this is helping me begin to fathom him out.
One day we hope he will go back to school, hopefully by Secondary School age, but at the moment we are very disappointed there are no schools near us which cater for Aspergers children properly, but thank goodness in the meantime we can home educate.S.S.