Radical Unschooling

Focusing on Strengths…

But first a quick update on the homemaking. My goal had been to clean and re-organize my kitchen. Well, actually, I got EVERYTHING done on the ground floor EXCEPT that. Including the formal living room that has become Cookie Monster’s temporary office. It had not been cleaned since the electricians finished weeks and weeks ago. So needless to say the dust was pretty thick in there. But nice and clean now for him. And yes, the plan is to finish with the kitchen and then tackle the landing and family bathroom…before we are off to sports day, swimming and climbing.

Which is part of what got me thinking about strengths. In particular an article I saw recently about strengths based early interventions. In other words, instead of trying to extinguish special interests and autistic behaviors like stimming to use those to connect with the child.

It reminded me of the special needs day center that our London council tried to force PanKwake into. It was primarily used by teens who were non-verbal. In fact, I believe that only one other child there was verbal. Of course, PanKwake quickly tired of that…except on Saturday when it also had several neurotypical siblings as well.

But I remember one young man in particular. He liked to clap. Then he wanted you to clap back at him. The closer you came to  repeating his pattern the broader his smile became. I have horrible rhythm so this was a near impossible task for me. Sometimes he would take my hands in his and lead the way.

I have often wondered…how to break the code. I do believe he was communicating through those claps. Reaching out and saying something to us. Having travelled in Mexico and France where I do not speak the language, I can in some tiny way appreciate how frustrating it must be for him. To be speaking a language that no one else understands.

Yes, but PanKwake is verbal. So what is your point you ask?

My point is rock climbing, Minecraft, and butterflies. My point is focusing on the things that she enjoys. My point is that when things like executive function, social cues, and even conversation must be taught because they do not come as naturally or easily as with other children then schools which must adhere to one-size fits all, standardized tests, and national curriculum cannot meet the complex needs of an individual like PanKwake. Their hands are tied.

Rock Climbing FeaturedMine is not. Thankfully. I can focus on the important life skills that she will need. Whether that be how to make and maintain friendships…or how to think two or three steps ahead in order to climb that wall…or sports/art/animals that may offer her career opportunities.

And by focusing upon her strengths I also build her self-esteem and confidence. In fact, I don’t believe you will find many children on the autistic spectrum…heck that many neurotypical children who are as happy and confident as PanKwake.

I keep coming back to a truth…ALL children deserve this kind of education…this type of childhood. Not just neurodivergent ones.

But that is why we love….Radical Unschooling. Freedom to explore and be….who we dream of being. Not just PanKwake either…it is freeing for me as well.

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