PanKwake had a big day yesterday. She asked to go to Clown Town, one of her favorite indoor play facilities. DadKwake was off because of Easter so he took us in the car (always a help). But today we only spent an hour or so there…when usually she cannot get enough.
When we left, she wanted to ‘explore.’ It is one of her favorite learning games. We leave the house usually in her buggy but this time we were in Daddy’s car. PanKwake then give us instructions, which way to go…turn left/right here, go straight. It is a wonderful way to orient her to directions…something that is not always easy for those on the autistic spectrum. It also gives her the experience of getting ‘lost’ without the trauma. It helps her to see that she can always make her way back home. And it can be a chance to share life lessons yesterday…like when we went in a circle yesterday. As I told her…at least now you know where that road leads.
When we got home, she actually napped, something she rarely does anymore. I shopped of course. But then since it was an absolutely gorgeous Spring day, she wanted to go to the park. Of course, after the week from Hades her room was destroyed. But I convinced her and DadKwake to tackle it alone while I cleaned her room.
Imagine my surprise when DadKwake called to tell me that they were going to the fun fair instead. Now PanKwake LOVES fun fairs…there is no ride too high or too fast. I on the other hand prefer nice solid ground. I have not been on a roller coaster since I was nineteen. My idea of an exciting ride is…It’s a Small World. What is more, I cannot even stand to see PanKwake on them. All of my fears and worries come out. What if she has a seizure? What if she falls off? And a million others. So obviously…DadKwake is a good choice to take her…especially considering THIS ride that he let her get on.
I say of this to make a point about autism…like PanKwake some on the autistic spectrum needs lots of proprioceptive input. That is a big fancy scientific word for movement, jumping and climbing in particular. Basically, we have nerve sensors in our joints that orient our bodies to where we are, they sense pressure on our joints without us even being aware of it. For most of us this just works automatically without us even thinking about it. For some people, they are overly sensitive to movement (hypersensitive). They do not like much movement and prefer instead to sit quietly, perhaps even being aversive to touch. But others like PanKwake are hyposensitive…in other words they require loads more stimulation to get the movement their bodies require. For these individuals they NEED to be moving…almost constantly.
That is one reason why we have chosen home education and specifically an unschooling approach for PanKwake. Were she to attend school, PanKwake would be forced to sit (no way she could be still or quietly even then) for prolonged periods of time. But without the proprioceptive stimulation that her unique brain requires she would not be open and receptive for learning…she would be fidgeting, trying to get the stimulation she needs. By unschooling we have the freedom to go…to climb…to jump…to move. She actually learned to count by repeatedly doing so…bounces on her trampoline, steps on her explorations and by how many hits she could keep a balloon in the air. For those like PanKwake with high proprioceptive needs traditional education does not work…that is why home education is an increasingly popular choice for children on the autistic spectrum.
Unschooling gives us the freedom to…autism – deal wif it.