I've been thinking of ways to do this, but I'm lost. My younger children don't go to public school because the staff isn't able to handle the children in a way that I feel recognizes their humanity. That being said, there really IS some socialization that my children are missing out on here at home.
YES, I know that all the homeschool readers here just howled. YES, I know that all y'all homeschoolers are great and join band, and co-op classes, and that your kids play softball and soccer and visit their cousins twice a week and that your kids have friends over after their schoolwork is done every day... yes, I know that.
But let's talk about MY family for a moment. Elf runs away when he is overwhelmed. Woodjie runs because he's two. S has a horrible high-pitched scream. She's probably neurotypical, but she's smart. Too smart. She has figured out that when she does this in quiet places, people come to pay attention to her.
Then there's Emperor. We love Emperor, but he will sometimes run up and HUG people and smell them. He will then tell them whether they smell like cigarette smoke or bananas or whatever pops into his mind while he is rubbing his nose all over them. Actually he's gotten a fair bit better about this and actually had the audacity to be EMBARRASSED that I mentioned this was a problem lately. So, I guess we're making progress.
But I avoid going out if I can. The more I avoid going out, the more obvious these behaviours become as my children age. Terrible cycle. But I'm just one person and don't know what else to do.
I try doing the "going over the rules" thing when we're in the van. Inevitably, I will leave out something important like "don't pick your wedgie in public" or "no rolling on the floor." Especially fun was the time Emperor informed EVERYONE in a crowded room that there were naked people over there in that pool. He knows this because he saw someone's LEG! And it didn't have pants on! It was just skin! Come lookit over here!!!! (A little four-year-old goes over to peek, and I get to "redirect" the conversation.)
I know that most people don't deal with this sort of strangeness on a daily basis, but I also know that I'm not alone. Maddy recently posted on one of her autistic sons' joining in some friendly punching on the playground and how things can get out of control quickly:
"There is the chance that he will join in and either punch his brother, or worse still, punch one of the little boys. It’s just the kind of thing that we hear about in the media:- ‘autistic child caught in unprovoked and mindless attack on innocent toddler.’ There’s never a back story. Sometimes the back story comes later, but it’s the headline that sticks in the mind of the public. It’s not dislodged, erased or superceded. As a result the public is left with a random collection of negative assumptions to apply to the autistic population, a general shorthand. Each additional headline loads another brick in the wall of segregation, isolation and mis-information."
Yes, it does. But I also know that every now and then, people are ready to learn something new. Every now and then, someone discovers that one of my children (pick one LOL) is autistic and displays surprise. I think that despite the fact that there are several characteristics that autistic people generally share, there are a great number of idiosyncracies that each one expresses.
One of the missionaries who came to speak at our church today demonstrated three axes. One is a ceremonial axe carried by the local leaders to look "cool." And it really was a gorgeous piece of workmanship. Another, a big hefty chunk of an axe, was for chopping firewood. Still another tiny axe wasn't a kid's axe as I thought... it was an axe for chipping at wood when one is carving statues and the like. All three are axes, but they serve different purposes.
I can't help but think that we do as well. We are all of us made in the image of God, but have different callings upon our lives. Right now, one of my biggest struggles is to try to integrate Elf and his brothers into the "real world," which doesn't always make accomodations. More on this some other time, but I pause to hear your thoughts.