Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Homeschooling 2010

Oh dear...I have been so slack in maintaining my blog. But I have good excuse...we have been very busy thru out 2010. It was truly a year filled with travelling and exploring new places. We came back from Malaysia Jan 2010, after a long 6 months stay. Junior really did had a good chance to be immerse in the language of Malay and Cantonese. This has help us progress now comfortably into our Malay language lessons.

Music is coming along really well, and this has continued onto 2011 strongly. Casual drumming lessons is now leading possible exams. Electric guitar lessons has also develop confidently...and this has led to possible bass guitar lessons in Spring term 2011.

We have been busy travelling as we had many overseas visitors descending upon our humble home. We made this epic journey Aylesbury (Roald Dhal Gallery) - Liverpool (World Musuem, Beatles Musuem) - Edinburgh (Dynamic Earth, Royal Scot Musuem, Obscura and a few more) - York (more musuems!!) TWICE in 2010 LOL!!

Then we went to Paris Disneyland, which itself was a very educationally experience for Junior as it really did involved all the usual meltdowns. From new beds to crowds to long journey (we drove)...he surprised us by taking it all in his stride.

Nearer to home, we had the glorious opportunity to see apple trees at its finest. We visited the West Dean a week before its 2010 Apple Festival. It was a beutiful day, and we all had a grand time ohhing and ahhing at the bountifully laden apple trees, from the deepest red to the palest yellow.

Reading is coming along still fine - we're still doing bedtime stories, and I thought it'll be a good idea to start dwelling into the world of classical authors. So, Enid Blyton has been a very entertaining host for many nights with her tales of Mr Pink Whistle and Mr Muddle. I was hoping to join the Famous Fives in thier many awesome adventures, however Junior is absolutely not a mystery we never went on any intrepid adventures of the Fives...but we did discover Jules Vernes...and away we went, adventure 20,000 leagues under the sea. Journey to the centre of the earth was the next journey we took...somewhere along the way, we got distracted by Jack London with his Call of the Wild.

Presently, we're quite tickled with Don Quixote silly notions, dreams and antics.

And Santa's present of a brand new Ipod was a fantastic move - lots of Ibook reading goin on.

Daily basis, still lots of playing on the floor - sticks, legos, transformers and cars. And we have implemented a daily schedule of "what to do" which is very helpful in helping both of us in organising ourselves. Ironically. We are supposed to be autonomous...but I do think in our instance, the autistic nature makes it difficult for us to be 100% autonomous - we're just too disorganised to be 100% autonomous. We're so bad in organisation skills and transitioning makes it even harder for us, that so much so, inertia seems to set in quiet easily into our lives.

Oh...yes, Matheletics. Started in 2010...slow and painful, but momentum has picked up in 2011, and now, Junior is happily working on his Matheletics on his own. Still working in Yr 3 (Junior wil be in Yr 5 this year) but I am happy to allow him to just play around until we moved his level up to Yr 4 in Spring term.

We ended 2010 and started 2011 with a very auspicious stay in a Buddhist temple in Doncaster and joined in a 5 day retreat. We saw Junior rise to the challenge of new environment, starnge beds, unfamiliar people and he did so well. He was chatty, confident, mingle well, stuck right in with the chores aroudn the centre...polite and most of all - not a single moan about lacking of tv nor the laptop. Tho in all honesty, he did have his Ipod with him...but even that, it was left behind in the bedroom, in favour of the great fantastic woodland taht surrounds the centre. Lots of activites to be part of - chopping trees, dragging logs, stackinglogs for firewood and many more.

Yes, it was a busy 2010...but now, it's Feb 2011...and today, I am feeling like we're not accomplished much since the Jan this year. And I am feeling very restless!!!

We spend alot of time cooped up in the house, the bad cold weather is not helping...we dont leave the house unless we necessarily had to. Our schedule is the usual - afteschool club @ Disability Challenges (twice a week), music lessons on Tuesdays, meet with local HEers Wednesday at nearby playgrd, swimming on Fridays.

Consolation is Junior's not been near nor touch the Xbox or Ps2 the past 3 months or so, interestingly. But lots of online gaming goin watching....late nights as we seems to have problems sleeping at night.

We have been making headways with writing slowly - just introduced cursive writings, after me giving up trying to make Junior understand the importance of writing certain alphabets in a certain way. I reckon, with curvises, he can clearly see how if he writes his alphabets in his own unique way, is not gonna be condusive to easy writings.

..And that's it really. Guessed, some travellings is required to help dispel this sense of restlessness...but again, with the present horrible weather...we seems to prefer warm cosy snuggling at home.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Evidence that Playing is good and educational enough!

"By preschool, the brain can handle larger numbers and is struggling to link three crucial concepts: physical quantities (seven marbles, seven inches) with abstract digit symbols (“7”), with the corresponding number words (“seven”). Lessons like the one Ms. Andzel taught are meant to fuse this numeric trinity, which is crucial for understanding basic math in kindergarten.

Children begin recognizing geometric shapes as early as 18 months, studies find; by preschool, the brain can begin to grasp informal geometric definitions."

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Education acquired thru everyday living

I always said...when there's a need for it..Jnr will learn it.

So far, he's proved me right. Everytime someone question our homeschooling decisions, whether we're qualified enough, whether Jnr will be learning the right thing, blah blah blah.

My standard answer is "Look at he coming across to you as stupid, ignorant and mute? Uable to understand you or communicate sort of boy!!??" The answer is always inevitably a dragging " BUT what about exams?"


Well, I will say to the you think Jnr is smart enough for you? Did he not asnwer all your questions? Did he not entertained you of his latest car and speed passion? Did he not informed you of his pocket money budget?

The answer is yes....BUT what about exams?

I replied "What is the exams for? What good doe sit do? Did Jnr not past the exam you just imposed on him? Surely he must have passed with flying colours for he answered each and every of your questions seemed happy with the conversation you had with him. Jnr has proved to you he is an intellectual, intelligent child who is able to answer questions and conduct conversation in proper grammer. He has not provide you any reason to think I am failing why would you still be so worried about me not teaching him anything LOL!?"


The moral of this story is...there will always be a BUT. People has been led to think exams is a must and is a very important component of our lives. The people believes to be examined and measured is the right way forward, to be able to categorised each other so that each other knows where in the society one stands.

These people will forever be blinkered and unable to see alternatives....despite it being smack right in front of thier face.

The proof that osmosis learning works in the pudding, as they all say. Just looking at Jnr...I can see he is growing up fine....just like any "school going" 9 yrs old, if not better I dare say.

Informal Learning: An Interview With Dr Alan Thomas MSc, PhD, FBPsS

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Importance of Touch

I am a true believer in touch-healing. I love massages not only for that momentary 1 hour of "me-time peace" it brings to my mind...but also that noticeble beneficial healings tp my body and skin, that inevitably trails after that one massage session. In short...massages to me is therapy. And regular therapies is what I offer to my son.

I am constantly either massaging DS's feet when we're watching tv, or stratching his back, or rubbing his back whenever I'm near him. It is second nature to me for I am a very tactile person. Becoz of this, it is hard for me to say if any of this "touchings" is healing or beneficial to DS for it is an ongoing thing without any observations.

Until...recently, due to a death in the family, staying in a different country, I have totally lost my routine, and having to spend alot of time apart from Junior, I then realised Junior is beginning to get very hyper and out of control again. I then realised the lack of "contact" between us of which i quickly resume my mini massages for him.

Strangely enough, preceeding this phase of hyperness, I have failed to recognised Junior's own recognisaton of his tactile sensory needs...many times he has asked me to be just sitting next to him...he just wants to be close to me. Even in the morning, he would rather stay in bed with me, snuggle up. Bedtime was all about lots of lots of back scratches, unable to switch off. Junior was exhibiting signs of clumsyness as in he is beginning to be bumping and banging into things. His energy level is high, un-able to control his power in most everything like crashing into us when walking or running to us, constantly rolling and playing on the floor, shadow fighting with lots of flipping and rolling on the floor.

How silly of me to have missed all these signs of his skin sensory is seeking input/ feeding.

So, it is back to whole body massages for Junior, and mini foot massages too and lots of bear hugs too.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Intro into Autonomous Education

Crossposted with permission of author. K xx

-----Original Message-----
Behalf Of Jennifer Moore
Sent: 19 November 2009 02:40
To: UK-HOME-ED@...
Subject: FAO media teams & bloggers

Hello all

"MPs told of research which Badman ignored"

"Badman ignored relevant research, MPs told"

I think the AEUK submission to the select committee would justify a
little headline like that, and I wonder if AHEd &/or the EO media team
&/or anyone else would like to hang a press release on its recent
emergence into the public domain...?

And, in general, I'd like to see that document become more widely known
and referenced. We put a big load of work into it, and I think it's
potentially useful as a general intro to autonomous education in its "UK
home ed" manifestations. So any bloggers who'd like to flag it up &
link to it, who haven't already, please do go ahead.

It's at l>

and Raquel already set up a shorter url too:

Feel free to cross-post this email.



Monday, 12 October 2009

Unschooling an aspie kid.

It's coming to 3 years of unschooling Junior and...we've been thru alot. When it comes to asperger, I can see that as much as Junior is very capable of mature reasoning and self directed learning...he is also very prone to childish logic.

To how i observed...Junior is a 9 years old with an emotional capacity of a 5 years old. He is still snuggling my chest for a point sometimes grabbing my breast in public! On a bad day, he is so nervous that he can't go wee or anywhere...without me standing by his side. So, on a "down day" Jnr is a fulltime job...from helping him finish his meal to accompanying him everywhere in the house because he is too nervous to be helping him calm down enough to switch off at bedtime by scrathing AND reading to him so he can fall asleep. It is days like these that no one seems to understand how limiting an asperger child's world tiring it is caring for an asperger child....simply because other people don't live thru it...hence just cannot comprehend the possibility of a 24/7 cling-on 9 years old.

Junior is capable of GCSE's level work. I use the word "capable" is because... we are aware Junior is capable of understanding GCSE's level of work tho we don't do any of them. It is the occasional "Eureka HEing" moments that he comes up to me and discussed certain things. It is his Eureka moment....when certain concept clicked with his brain.

He's been reading lots of is his new favourite "thing" to do. So far, to my knowledge... he's been reading about cars history and locations, history of fast food (KFC in particular) and coffins.

We've been doing lots. We've been learning Malay language and Junior is picking up conversational Malay rather well. We're learning about the nature of tropical climates, comparing the 4 seasons in UK, to the year long summer weather in Asia.

He's also playing on both Toontown and Runescape simultaneously.

Junior is showing us that he is learning lots despite us parents not telling him what to do. He has shown plenty of signs of maturity and helping his little cousin with her games by reading games instructions for her, helping her do her maths homework LOL and many more!! He brought up and we discussed about "working for a living" and what job would he like to do when he grows up. So it does seems like my kid IS growing up fine and dandy...just by living his life the way he deemed fit.

Well, I summarised our unschooling journey so far to be happy, satisfying and still "the best decision ever" we've ever made as parents.

Making autism ‘normal’ won’t help my son...

Making autism ‘normal’ won’t help my son. It may reduce the stigma but it trivialises the learning difficulties and isolation sufferers endureMichael Fitzpatrick

In the 15 years since autism was diagnosed in our son James, the public status of the condition has changed dramatically. In the early 1990s autism was still regarded as a rare and obscure disorder, associated with “mental handicap” or “retardation” and life-long institutional care. Today autism seems to be everywhere. It has become a common, even fashionable condition, linked to talent and creativity or simply making people interestingly different. But the fact that everybody now talks about autism does not make life any easier for people affected by it.

The higher profile of autism cannot be attributed to scientific advances. Though there have been impressive developments in our understanding of the genetics and psychological features of autism, neuroscience has yet to make much headway in elucidating the mediating links — or in suggesting therapeutic interventions. The increased awareness and wider diagnosis of autism appear to be largely the result of a cultural trend towards redefining human differences in terms of disorder. The question we now face, as James embarks on the transition to adult life, is: have things really improved for people with autism?

There can be no doubt that in many ways we have made progress. Parents are no longer blamed for making their children autistic through their frigid personalities, as they were as result of influential psychodynamic theories in the postwar decades. Behavioural and educational programmes have been developed for children at home and at school, though access to these remains uneven. And though there is much talk of provision for adults, including help with housing and employment, the reality remains one of a constant struggle for services.

On the other hand, the apparent upsurge in the prevalence of autism has provoked the notion of an autism “epidemic”, fostering fears and anxieties that provide a fertile terrain for irrational theories. These include the idea that autism is the result of demonic possession (as popularised in the book and film Horse Boy) or, in a modernised version of the same atavistic prejudice, that it is caused by vaccines or some unknown environmental toxin. The depiction of people with autism as “dead souls” or “metabolic train wrecks” — both familiar themes of the “unorthodox biomedical” movement — is disparaging and dehumanising. Rogue scientists and unorthodox practitioners, together with credulous journalists and celebrity parents, have all helped to promote these theories and the associated therapies, which they claim can produce miracle cures and “recovery” from autism. Desperate parents have become customers in a multimillion-dollar global enterprise.

The cultural fascination with autism is reflected in the plethora of films, novels and soaps featuring autistic characters. Yet, with some notable exceptions, such as Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or the Australian film The Black Balloon, popular depictions of autism tend to be voyeuristic or sentimental. Autism seems to offer endless scope as a metaphor for the discussion of contemporary anxieties about masculinity, fatherhood, the family. Reflecting on the “outlandish, offensive” misrepresentations of autism in film, writer Stuart Murray (also the parent of an autistic child) concludes that “overall, it is debatable how much progress has been made in cinematic depictions of autism since the foundational success of Rain Man”.

The concept of the autistic spectrum, including people with Asperger’s syndrome and “high-functioning” autism as well as those with “classic” autism, who usually have severe learning difficulties and more profound social and behavioural problems, has helped to reduce the marginalisation of people with autism. But the tendency to label as autistic every computer geek and eccentric scientist, and every obsessive train-spotter and stamp-collector (compounded by the vogue for identifying historical figures and even contemporary celebrities as autistic) carries the danger that the spectrum becomes stretched so wide that autism loses its distinctiveness.

“Normalising” autism may reduce stigma, but at the risk of trivialising the problems of those with more severe learning difficulties and also of underestimating the extreme aloneness that results from the social impairment of autism, even in higher-functioning individuals.

When James was found to be autistic, as a GP I knew virtually nothing about it. Recently a woman at the supermarket checkout, noticing his odd behaviour, asked if he had Tourette’s syndrome (familiar from Shameless and Big Brother). Yet, though everybody now knows the labels, the prospect of continuing high unemployment and public spending cuts mean an uncertain future for people with autism. The National Autistic Society has sponsored a campaign to increase awareness of adults with autism — but it remains unclear whether resources will be provided to meet the needs that are identified. The “autism angle” may provide publicity for the new Sherlock Holmes film or for the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, but for families like ours the struggle is set to continue.

Michael Fitzpatrick is a London GP. He is speaking at the Battle of Ideas satellite debate, Age of Autism: Rethinking “Normal”, at Foyles Charing Cross Road, London