14 October 2015

Overcoming a period of ASD regression and not give up on homeschooling




 It's been awhile since I wrote a post about our homeschooling journey so today I wanted to fix that.

We have had a couple rough 'ASD' months. One word that can put fear into the hearts of a special needs parent..... REGRESSION! Oh my goodness it's been tough. We started a regimen (with our GP) to help rectify a vitamin deficiency and one of the side effects was that she may get worse before she gets better. And she did. Much worse. Thankfully we seem to have made it across the worst patch where we can now see the forest for the trees.

During the hard times though there were definitely 'brief' moments where I wondered if mainstream school was the answer, but then I remembered the reasons why we wanted to homeschool in the first place and our persistent family motto 'never give up' played in our minds. We took each day as it came, never giving up on our homeschooling dream by just learning to approach it differently. 

There was signs of regression in some independent life skills, social skills (she hated leaving the house) and her functional speech suffered a bit but the main issue related to homeschooling was Ella's inability to hold a pencil (or sit still AT ALL, and I thought she was a wiggle worm before, nope, now it was much worse). In fact anything to do with writing was cause for a meltdown. It broke my heart watching her regress to a stage she was at nearly 3 years ago. Simple tasks that she was blitzing thru seemed were now a thing of the past. Now, believe me, I am all for kids learning at their own pace and it not being a race, but to see her lose the skills she had worked so hard to achieve (skills that most kids just 'pick up' and we take for granted it will happen) was devastating. We were feeling dejected (infact that doesn't quite cover it). Lost. Disheartened. Exhausted. Worried. Ella has made amazing progress with therapies and our hands-on approach over past 3 yrs and to see that disappear was gut wrenching. What did the future look like now????

So what did we do in the meantime? Read lots of books to her (even her sight words had disappeared and she didn't want to read herself), attempted to play lots of games but mostly just gave her a break on the whole schooling approach. Some days she would only listen to 1 page of a book or play a game for 30 seconds, but we took it slowly. In the end it was like she basically took a summer vacation during winter. We took the pressure off and bit by bit we started working on wanting to touch/hold/use a pen, rekindle a love for books, get her interested in actually playing board games again, all in different ways.
  
Once we had her at a point of being semi ok to hold a pen we did things like colouring in together, she tried to help mark off shopping lists, attempted writing greeting cards for friends or just ticking boxes on a scavenger hunt. All of which were LONG, HARD, GUT-WRENCHING tasks for her to achieve. She would write 1 letter and would take an hour (or more than 20mins to pick up a pencil to join me colouring in). I am not exaggerating. But we never gave up. Without pressure, we just kept trying. Then we started to see a turnaround and took the opportunity to try the whiteboard approach again. Persistence pays off as now she does at least 5-6 whiteboard actives throughout the day. Plus colouring in is back on the fun list, writing greeting cards sometimes and we have even managed a few printables here and there. Plus she is back to loving board games again and leaving the house is no longer a logistical nightmare fraught with meltdowns at any time!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!!

So now we are kind of back on track, we are all happier and I am in the process of starting my plan for next years schooling and it's not looking as daunting as it was 3 months ago. Yes she still has a long way to go to catch back up to where she was but we can see the future again and it's looking better each day.

Today I wanted to share our journey through rough waters of late as well as a few pictures of our whiteboard activities we have been doing. Short, fun, easy. Anything to get her interested in the act of writing again.We started slow, just 1 letter/shape here and there and gradually added more. Now I spend most nights scrolling thru pinterest looking for ideas I can replicate on the whiteboard without needing too much in the way of artistic skills. PS. if you are looking for cheap multi-coloured whiteboard markers, I got a big pack for $5 from kmart. They have come in handy as we do lots of different coloured stuff to keep it fun.












So if you are ever feeling down and want to give up, I hope our story will help you stay strong and push thru.

xxxx

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