Advice required please

Hi,
am fairly new to this forum, so if this thread is in the wrong place, sorry! I'm still considering home ed for at least one of my sons - my eldest is approaching twelve and has Asperger's. I have no big problems with the idea of educating him at home, but am quite concerned about the socialisation of my son. At present he only has a couple of friends that he sees outside of school, though he has a number of acquaintances that he is on chatting terms with from school. He is aware of his lack of friends, and it does bother him, though he appreciates he doesn't share many of the same interests as other kids who are happy just hanging together. My main worry is that if he leaves school what little contact he has will disappear totally and that will impact on his mental health. How have other parents of Asperger's coped with this, and in general do home ed parents meet up to socialise? My son won't join groups like scouts, and I'm worried he will perceive himself as even more isolated than now. Any advice pleas?
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
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My opinion is that asperger children struggle with same age children .
When home educating socialisation takes place amongst children and adults of all age groups and this helps children to relax, a 12yr old will feel different when they struggle to find common ground with other 12yr olds but when faced with a social circle that includes 0-99's then nobody 'doesn't fit' .
Also whilst there are home ed groups to join there is also the opportunity to socialise with others by just meeting up with one or two families at a time .
Remember, to have social skills does not mean to have the ability to mix within an age peer group, to have social skills means to be able to mix with society the members of which come in all shapes , sizes and ages.
Home educate and give him free reign and his true qualities will break through and amaze you.
 
Thank you Elaine. You are right, our son struggles terribly with kids of his own age. In the last year he seems to have plummeted at school, and we fear that he views every school lesson as a situation in which he is being measured against the other children in his class. In mixed age group gatherings he has very little difficulty. I think I'm just worried that as he is approaching puberty he has become increasingly aware of his differences, and I don't want to add to them by making him more different due to home educating. Don't know why I'm even asking as I already know half the answers, I'm just so scared to take a step that won't be reversible - our son's emotional health has suffered so much in the last two academic years I'm frightened I'll screw him up more than the education system has. The socialisation issue is partly my bag aswell - making and keeping adult friendships that come when your kids start nursery and school was almost impossible due to our son's extreme difficulties when he started school - I find it hard to approach and trust people due to the many comments and snubs we got years ago from uninformed idiots, so feel uncomfortable about starting new friendships. I need courage, and lots of it.
 

Michelle

HEdups
Hi Nell,

I can't speak for others, but I know I had fears about taking the leap in to the unknown that was home education. I had a fantastic contact who I spoke to over the phone for a few weeks before finalising the decision.

We haven't joined any groups as such, but we meet with lots of other people. My eldest son, then aged about 10, was thrilled to find that age and sex didn't matter among his new friends, they all play together. Their confidence grew and grew. We have a wide circle of friends, some of our schooly friends have disappeared, but with no hard feelings. My sons weren't struggling at school, they weren't being bullied we just thought that there was something better.

For over a year they de-schooled and are still not keen to do anything they perceive as structured, school-type learning, so we don't, but they still learn loads. Eldest son is very political, loves history and bushcraft, youngest son loves any gadgets, lego and stop-motion-animation, all of which they've sourced themselves and followed fanatically.

HEing can take a leap of faith; faith in yourself, HE and most of all in your child, but its well worth it. I'm happy to talk to you if you think it would help.

Where are you based? We're in Nottingham.
 
Not time for a long reply but would say home ed is the perfect thing for aspergers kids who then have the time to think and talk about the issues that affect them while not being stressed by having to deal with all the noise and confusing demands of school and 30 other same age kids. They can learn and explore in a safe space with an adult/s available and able to help them interpret and explore any issues as they arise.

Rigidly normal behaviour is also not expected and parents are usually supported in taking the time to find out what works even when their childs behaviour is disruptive.

Just a few thoughts. Good luck making the decision.
 
Thanks Michelle and Maire. I know you're both right. I think it's just that we have more to worry about with our eldest son. Youngest son is very social and I don't worry that home ed would isolate him, but eldest just seems to worry about everything, and is frightened to try anything new. My hope is that away from the pressures of school this fear would subside over time, as we consider school is largely responsible for this fear of failure, but I worry he'll just stay like this and become a recluse. I know in my heart school isn't working, I need no convincing of that at all, but I just need to believe that home ed will make it better for our son, and that there's enough support/friendships out there. Thanks everybody for the support.
 

Diane

HEdups
School friendships aren't usually friendships at all anyway. They are merely acquaintanceships of people who find themselves on the decks of the Titantic, brought together by circumstances and competing/co-operating from necessity.

That's why so=called school friendships don't last long when children move away/become home educated/get replaced by new incomers to school.

Diane
http://www.threedegreesoffreedom.blogspot.com
 
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Well, yes Diane, exactly. My lovely childminder, who is a true friend (and whose daughter had to come out of secondary school with a breakdown)is one of the few that doesn't think I'm utterly bonkers. Oh, and my niece, who is a teacher, which says a lot. I'm not a conformist by heart, never was, but was brought up as one by my mother who I think sometimes wished she was braver aswell. The two influences fight each other, but I'm happiest when the non-conformist wins.
 

Michelle

HEdups
Nell, you should remember that taking him out of school and de-registering him isn't set in stone as he can go back in, if at some point you felt you'd made the wrong choice.
I don't know where you live, but you probably wont have to look very hard to find lots of fun activities in a thriving and local HE community. Your son will make new friendships of *his* choice, not because he's been forced into associations by finding himself in a class full of twelve year olds.
Good luck with whatever you decide and give me a ring if you think it'll help.
 
Thanks Michelle and for the number, it's appreciated - I may well pick your brains soon! I know I could send our boy back if it didn't work out, just rather not even entertain the idea of failure! I know I sound negative but I'm trying to anticipate potential issues so when we bite the bullet I can just relax and get on with the new life.
 
.
My opinion is that asperger children struggle with same age children .
When home educating socialisation takes place amongst children and adults of all age groups and this helps children to relax, a 12yr old will feel different when they struggle to find common ground with other 12yr olds but when faced with a social circle that includes 0-99's then nobody 'doesn't fit' .
Also whilst there are home ed groups to join there is also the opportunity to socialise with others by just meeting up with one or two families at a time .
Remember, to have social skills does not mean to have the ability to mix within an age peer group, to have social skills means to be able to mix with society the members of which come in all shapes , sizes and ages.
Home educate and give him free reign and his true qualities will break through and amaze you.
As somebody who has been actively involved with AS and HE for several years, I will second all of this. I am currently writing an article about socialisation for children and teenagers with AS.

School friendships aren't usually friendships at all anyway. They are merely acquaintanceships of people who find themselves on the decks of the Titantic, brought together by circumstances and competing/co-operating from necessity.

That's why so=called school friendships don't last long when children move away/become home educated/get replaced by new incomers to school.
Absolutely true.

School has created a youth subculture that many children and teenagers enjoy but others do not, and feel that they are not part of. The conventional viewpoint is that children who do not fit in with their peer group and make friends and participate in popular activities for their age group are unsociable. The conventional solution is that such children need to be forced together with others of their own age. The reality is that many children who do not fit in with their peer group do want friends but only people who respect them and share their interests.
 

Admin

Administrator
As somebody who has been actively involved with AS and HE for several years, I will second all of this. I am currently writing an article about socialisation for children and teenagers with AS.
Will look forward to reading it, Riaz. :)
 
Last year when my niece got married our two boys had a whale of a time. Eldest son mixed with a large number of people he had never met, and spent the whole day (which I thought would be a struggle for him) circulating and chatting to people of all ages, even dancing (in 11yr old boy style, see Peter Kay) with one of my sister's friend's daughters. There were many comments about his - and his brother's - wonderful behaviour. Contrast that to his recent school report that emphasises A's 'difficulty in socialising with his peers' and 'unwillingness to participate in group activities during PE lessons' and I think we can see where the problem lies. I'm ashamed of myself that I have not had the courage to do something about this, and scared that I may never have the courage.
 
Last year when my niece got married our two boys had a whale of a time. Eldest son mixed with a large number of people he had never met, and spent the whole day (which I thought would be a struggle for him) circulating and chatting to people of all ages, even dancing (in 11yr old boy style, see Peter Kay) with one of my sister's friend's daughters. There were many comments about his - and his brother's - wonderful behaviour. Contrast that to his recent school report that emphasises A's 'difficulty in socialising with his peers' and 'unwillingness to participate in group activities during PE lessons' and I think we can see where the problem lies. I'm ashamed of myself that I have not had the courage to do something about this, and scared that I may never have the courage.
This resulted in a flashback to when I was 12 years old. The wording from your son's school report is almost identical to that from mine. At the same time I could easily relate to many adults I met and some of the members of a society for talented children.

Unfortunately, my parents decided to send me to a residential school in order to be forced to mix with other children outside of school hours and learn social skills. It didn't work and probably made my social skills worse considering the obnoxious behaviour of many of the children and staff in the school.
 
Thanks Riaz. I was bothered by the year head's closing comment on the report that our son needed to try harder - A even said to me he was going to try harder, but we know how bloody hard he tried last year - I don't want him to feel like that. We get drawn into the whole belief system that to succeed children should follow accepted norms, and if they don't then you've clearly failed as a parent. Although I haven't yet taken the step to home ed, I long ago found the courage to fight for A when we went through the SEN process, and can still today see the looks of shock when we visit schools and they realise we don't sit opposite them and stare at the floor, ashamed of the son we have produced. Two months ago I rejected some 'helpful' advice by telling them my son wasn't broken and didn't need fixing, he was simply not hard wired the same as many other children and that was a fact they needed to accept instead of trying to change. Oh, how I wish he was still at primary school...
 

Diane

HEdups
A lot of people have difficulty socialising with their peers (whatever that means). A lot of my peers either bored me to death or bullied me (or both). It's about time we all woke up to realise that real friends are as rare as fifty one pound notes, and cherish them if you have them. If you are looking for something rare, it's hard to find. You have to search and search. You may not find them in your own age-group. You may not find them in your own gender/nationality/country.

Or maybe my standard for friendship and socialisation is much higher than that of most schooly 'experts'.

Some youngsters are just more discerning. They instinctively understand the forced nature of schooling - one of the aims is supposedly socialisation which has been drafted in because no one really believes that school educates anyone. So when did schools start to promote socialisation as one of their vaunted positives? Well, probably when the general consensus was reached that schools are failing institutions.


Diane
http://www.threedegreesoffreedom.blogspot.com
 
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A lot of people have difficulty socialising with their peers (whatever that means).
I still think attitudes towards children are coloured by a parent's own experience. For example, my mum made friends easily at secondary school and had a wide circle of friends. I'm inclined to say that this made it hard for her to understand and appreciate the difficulty I had with making friends at school, and why I preferred to look further afield.

If you are looking for something rare, it's hard to find. You have to search and search. You may not find them in your own age-group. You may not find them in your own gender/nationality/country.
Some children prefer to associate with middle age classic car enthusiasts rather than their peer group. Some parents and educational psychologists consider this to be abnormal or undesirable behaviour.

Some youngsters are just more discerning.
I was a discerning youngster who had little interest in sports and popular teenage culture. My parents were almost the reverse.

So when did schools start to promote socialisation as one of their vaunted positives? Well, probably when the general consensus was reached that schools are failing institutions.
Serious studies into the impact of breaktimes and school playgrounds on children's education did not take place until the second half of the 80s.
 

banshee

ScotHE
Or maybe my standard for friendship and socialisation is much higher than that of most schooly 'experts'....
So when did schools start to promote socialisation as one of their vaunted positives? Well, probably when the general consensus was reached that schools are failing institutions.


Diane
http://www.threedegreesoffreedom.blogspot.com
H.U.A!
I get you, Diane. I was asked by the nursey folk who visit instead of the HV whether I have any friends around here...I misunderstood COMPLETELY! I said I have one...one I hug when I see her, and discuss hopes, dreams and fears with her, know how she likes her tea, and know some of her most painful moments and her most wise ones. They actually wanted to know how many acquaintances I have and how many have children that my babes play with, blahdiblah...I know what to say next time!
 
B

Beulah

Guest
We're a year into Home Ed, and the kids pretty much lost their school friendships with immediate effect due to parents being rather confused by our sudden change. The kids didn't miss their school "pals" not one jot and a reunion with some of their friends didn't work (I had arranged it in my desperation, LOL), and I was immensely surprised by this.

They play together really well on their own, and the odd home ed group we go to, they find it easy talking to the children they meet. They also have a bunch of friends from across the country who come to stay with a pal of mine during the school holidays.

I found the more desperate and worried I was about the kids' social "status", the more things went wrong with regards to the artificial nature of it all - I just chill these days and find that social opportunities arise unbidden. Who and what are we conforming to, who are we trying to please? (sometimes we don't even appreciate the scope of how free Home educating is)

I was very proud of my son who held a great conversation with an old park ranger about wildlife - and as a result, discovered he has a real rapport with older people!

This was previously undiscovered at school, as my kids saw adults as nagging authority figures. Granted, they respect age - but have realised that not all adults are nagging teachers!!! :tongue1:

One of the best aspects of this malarky is seeing my children change over the months - they seem more whole as individuals than ever.
 
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