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Time to throw in the towel?

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    Time to throw in the towel?

    Dear SN Friends,

    So I am logging on to just ask, "Does it ever make sense to just throw in the towel and give up on homeschooling a SN child?" I have been at this for years and years. My son, age 11 (turning 12 in a few months) has been therapy-ed, educated, special diet-ed starting at age 2. And, to my knowledge and amongst those I know parenting special needs, he is the ONLY child who has failed to make much progress or move forward. The gap between him and his peer group widens each year, which is the opposite of most of the other special needs kids I know....all their therapy, special diet, naturopathic healing and focused education has helped to improve their lives. Not so with my son. I am at my wit's end and yesterday, I finally buried my face in my hands and wept for the first time in a long time. It's almost as though I have forgotten how to cry. The tears flowed regularly from when my older son was around 4 and this child was 1 .....until the past couple years when I've become more closed and hardened on the outside. I have no support system here. No in-person fellowship with other SN families on a regular basis and we are 3,000 miles from our family all out west.

    If I throw in the towel, I know my son would probably be in a baby-sitting SN class. We've tried and stuck with almost every therapy out there AND all the special diets AND all the supposedly helpful supplements. I will share that he has "on" days where our MP curriculum goes okay. Then he has "off" days. The difference between the "on" and the "off" days is quite significant in terms of what and how much he can accomplish. I have found myself more willing, when I don't have it in me, to just allow him to move forward in his R&S Math because he loves it so much and any/all memory work. But if it's (for example) understanding a comprehension question in his Storytime Treasures book, and it's an "off" day, then I allow it to just sit on the shelf because sometimes I don't have it in my to face reality. Ya know? This morning he seemed quasi "on" so we pulled out Storytime Treasures right away and here's an example of the types of questions that stump him:

    The peddler didn't have any money for lunch. Why not? (This is from Caps for Sale which we still haven't finished in spite of moving forward in other parts of our curriculum).

    For some reason it's hard for him to connect that he wasn't selling caps, and therefore had no money in his pocket, and therefore couldn't buy lunch. For those of you with language processing kiddos, how do you tackle these things? Up to this point, I just keep going back to the story, I prompt, I explain, etc.

    On Fridays we leave at 10:15 to drive about 15 minutes away to a co-op for him to participate in an elementary music class my priest's wife teaches. I really wanted him to do this as music is so important to me and she teaches beginning note reading, rhythm, (copying her rhythm with rhythm sticks, etc.) AND it's just so painful to watch him be so challenged compared to other kids much younger than him. And to watch them laugh at him. I have just spent 9 months pouring into Interactive Metronome (several times per week, once with a therapist and the rest of the time at home) to help improve his neural timing. He has improved greatly but it hasn't transferred much over into the other areas of his life. And this a heavily researched-backed and recognized therapy for ADHD/Cognition/Processing, etc.

    Well, anyway, I just needed to vent. Mostly, I ask for your prayers because, in spite of how hard I'm battling NOT entering the pit of despair, I find myself going down and down.

    SusanP
    Last edited by SPearson; 03-10-2017, 11:16 PM.

    #2
    Re: Time to throw in the towel?

    Oh Susan, I completely understand where you are coming from. I have felt what you are feeling.

    First, it is winter. So I wouldn't be surprised if the February blues have something to do with this. I think we also have to take some time to grieve sometimes. This is a hard road. It is hard to see our children struggle.

    I also know what it is like to feel like you are trudging in the mud making slow progress with lots of steps back. My oldest has been in basically the same place with reading for almost 1 1/2 years and seems to finally be turning a corner.

    I also don't have a SN support system here. Your in VA right? Does the VA conference have a SN gathering. The one in NC is going to and that is the main reason I am going.

    I also tried a music class for my son. It was a dismal failure. He couldn't tolerate the noise and he also struggles so much with rhythm, etc. I think its something that I'm just going to have to do one on one with him. For me, we have come to the point that I don't think we can participate in co-ops anymore. He can't really access instruction with his age group and classes for the younger ages aren't interesting to him. And really, if its in our school schedule, it has to add to the educational value.

    As far as the off and on days go, I think that is normal. For the language processing you mentioned, it could be because he doesn't have to work to make money! I'd just take a step back and talk about where money comes from. To make money we either have to do work and get paid for it or sell things and get paid for it. Without money we can't buy things. Slowly talk it through.

    I'm sure others who have language problems like your sons will have better advice. I mainly wanted to say that you aren't alone in wondering if you're making a difference and feeling defeated.
    Susan

    2018-2019
    A (10) - Barton, R&S math 3, SC 3
    C (9) - Barton, R&S math 2, SC 3
    G (5) - Simply Classical C

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Time to throw in the towel?

      I'm right there with you. Although, I have not done any special therapies. I will give you the same advise someone else gave me...consider ADD medication. If you don't have a neuropsychological evaluation on him, get it. Don't let it rule you though. Also, try different modalities. Perhaps he would understand the story if he acted it out? Or maybe fill in some information of the story that he does not have (Caps for Sale, tell him the man does not have a bank account, ATM card, money in his pockets or a mom nearby to buy his lunch and he has to earn his money by working or selling something).
      The other piece of advise I was given was to take a break, let someone babysit him for a year. You can homeschool another year. Perhaps you both need a break. There's nothing wrong with that.
      And purpose. He needs a purpose and to be successful at something. Focus on his strengths for a bit.
      I am taking a bit of a break from my special needs daughter. I am letting her do SpellingCity and math games on her ipad. We use the ipad as education only stuff. She uses quizlet as well. I will put audiobooks on there for her and a youtube channel with people reading the stories we are covering in the curriculum. She has no therapies now and I am trying my hardest to be more loving to her. Two of her younger siblings have passed her by and that bothers her. Sometimes my heart breaks for her. I am trying to find her strengths and work towards them.

      I will pray you find a solution that works for you.
      Debbie
      Mom to DS 24, DD23 (w/SIL, GS3, GD1), DD15, DD13, DD11(special needs), DS10, DD8, DS5, DD2

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Time to throw in the towel?

        Hi Susan,

        Sending a virtual hug your way! It's so hard not to compare your child to others, even with neurotypical kids. But it's more painful when there's such a big difference. I don't even know other SN kids like my son in real life, but I do see the gap widening more and more between him and the NT friends he's grown up with. I try to focus on all the gifts along the way but often need a good spiritual director to get me back on track with that.

        We actually have had some good experiences with schools, but the reality is whether he's homeschooled or in a special ed classroom, you will still be in charge of his education and spending a lot of time and energy making sure things are going well.

        I know awhile back that Anita posted a wonderful list of things to do when you're feeling burnt out as a SN mom. I searched for it but couldn't find it. Maybe she will post it again. :-)

        Will definitely pray for you!
        Catherine

        2019-20
        DS16, 10th
        DS13, 7th
        DS11, 6th
        DD11, 6th
        DS7, 1st
        DD4, JrK
        DS 17 mos

        Homeschooling 4 with MP
        2 in classical school

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Time to throw in the towel?

          Originally posted by SPearson View Post
          Dear SN Friends,

          So I am logging on to just ask, "Does it ever make sense to just throw in the towel and give up on homeschooling a SN child?" I have been at this for years and years. My son, age 11 (turning 12 in a few months) has been therapy-ed, educated, special diet-ed starting at age 2. And, to my knowledge and amongst those I know parenting special needs, he is the ONLY child who has failed to make much progress or move forward. The gap between him and his peer group widens each year, which is the opposite of most of the other special needs kids I know....all their therapy, special diet, naturopathic healing and focused education has helped to improve their lives. Not so with my son. I am at my wit's end and yesterday, I finally buried my face in my hands and wept for the first time in a long time. It's almost as though I have forgotten how to cry. The tears flowed regularly from when my older son was around 4 and this child was 1 .....until the past couple years when I've become more closed and hardened on the outside. I have no support system here. No in-person fellowship with other SN families on a regular basis and we are 3,000 miles from our family all out west.

          If I throw in the towel, I know my son would probably be in a baby-sitting SN class. We've tried and stuck with almost every therapy out there AND all the special diets AND all the supposedly helpful supplements. I will share that he has "on" days where our MP curriculum goes okay. Then he has "off" days. The difference between the "on" and the "off" days is quite significant in terms of what and how much he can accomplish. I have found myself more willing, when I don't have it in me, to just allow him to move forward in his R&S Math because he loves it so much and any/all memory work. But if it's (for example) understanding a comprehension question in his Storytime Treasures book, and it's an "off" day, then I allow it to just sit on the shelf because sometimes I don't have it in my to face reality. Ya know? This morning he seemed quasi "on" so we pulled out Storytime Treasures right away and here's an example of the types of questions that stump him:

          The peddler didn't have any money for lunch. Why not? (This is from Caps for Sale which we still haven't finished in spite of moving forward in other parts of our curriculum).

          For some reason it's hard for him to connect that he wasn't selling caps, and therefore had no money in his pocket, and therefore couldn't buy lunch. For those of you with language processing kiddos, how do you tackle these things? Up to this point, I just keep going back to the story, I prompt, I explain, etc.

          On Fridays we leave at 10:15 to drive about 15 minutes away to a co-op for him to participate in an elementary music class my priest's wife teaches. I really wanted him to do this as music is so important to me and she teaches beginning note reading, rhythm, (copying her rhythm with rhythm sticks, etc.) AND it's just so painful to watch him be so challenged compared to other kids much younger than him. And to watch them laugh at him. I have just spent 9 months pouring into Interactive Metronome (several times per week, once with a therapist and the rest of the time at home) to help improve his neural timing. He has improved greatly but it hasn't transferred much over into the other areas of his life. And this a heavily researched-backed and recognized therapy for ADHD/Cognition/Processing, etc.

          Well, anyway, I just needed to vent since I have no one and no way to sit with a friend who will listen and share a cup of coffee with me.

          Mostly, I ask for your prayers because, in spite of how hard I'm battling NOT entering the pit of despair, I find myself going down and down.

          SusanP

          Susan,

          Thank you for reaching out. We'll have that sorrowful cup of coffee (or wine) with you.

          11 is hard, because you can look to the future and panic. What have I done? What could I have done? What can I do now? Where will he be?

          All is well. Among other things, these are growing pains. It hurts, hurts, hurts to watch our children "not measure up," yet even this is more information for you. This will help you make wise decisions about his middle school, his high school, and his life. And all of it will help you to help him, as he looks forward.

          Regarding academics, I know you really wanted to just drop lower in MP, and if we didn't have SC, that might be a good route for him. But given all of the time you have spent with therapies, the SC alternatives really might be something to consider.

          In SC, not only are there more VAKT teaching strategies worked in for you, but we break things down. For example, in SC Storytime & More Storytime, we give visual cues for question words, and we do not jump to abstract reasoning questions. We try to stick with What/Where/When before embarking on How/Why. In SC, we simplify. Similarly, SC Writing is unique to SC, because we needed to make basic composition skills much more incremental. So just remember that you have this safety net.


          NO child should endure repeatedly having other children laugh at him. Neither should his parent. If there are not lower-sensory groups available, consider creating one. Or ask for musical tutoring. Or switch to something more physical, yet therapeutic, like swimming. You do have options. You can even decide to stay home for a semester and take up hiking or backyard bird-watching together instead.

          This is actually a great opportunity for you to get to "know" your son again. It is so easy to trust in therapies, ... but you have even more. You have a God-given motherly nurturing way about you, SusanP. We all felt it last summer. Take your son to a cafe or a park and arm yourself with written questions. "What do you LOVE to do?" "If you could study or learn about only one thing, what would it be?" "What would you love most to do when you grow up?" "Which outside activity would you want to continue doing, no matter what?" "Why?" "Which do you dread?" "Where do you think we're doing well in our homeschooling?" "Where could we change?"

          As he grows into his young-manhood, these conversations can be extremely valuable for him (and for you).


          Just yesterday we went to St. Louis because I have a swollen foot that perplexed our local doctor. (It will be fine.) Michael & Michelle needed to go with me, so we spent the day there. My son's eyes were opened, because near our outdoor table sat a homeless man hunched over his table with only a plastic water bottle, while busy professionals were hustling and bustling through their fancy cilantro-lime rice & tofu. Michael spoke to the man. Michael said later he wished he had brought a handheld copy of the New Testament to give the man, and he wished he would have thought to buy him lunch.

          We had plenty of time yesterday, so I listened further. My son, now nearly 22, told me he has always wanted to help at a homeless shelter or serve on winter patrol giving blankets, meals, and the Gospel to men who live on the streets. He said he knows most of them have mental illness like he does. He said he knows his life could have been much different.

          All of this made its way into his thankfulness journal last night, all on his own.


          We just never know what our young men are thinking, but we know they do not think like we moms do.


          As for the parent-pain, we're definitely here with you. It may not indicate that you need to stop homeschooling because, as you said, you know that he does NOT need watered-down progressive ed. Consider SC for schooling.

          For everything else, much of it may be the square peg, round hole "syndrome." This can become more of an issue as they leave childhood and approach adolescence. We try & try to make things work, but sometimes we might just need to find places where they love square pegs.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Time to throw in the towel?

            Originally posted by SPearson View Post
            Dear SN Friends,

            So I am logging on to just ask, "Does it ever make sense to just throw in the towel and give up on homeschooling a SN child?" I have been at this for years and years. My son, age 11 (turning 12 in a few months) has been therapy-ed, educated, special diet-ed starting at age 2. And, to my knowledge and amongst those I know parenting special needs, he is the ONLY child who has failed to make much progress or move forward. The gap between him and his peer group widens each year, which is the opposite of most of the other special needs kids I know....

            By the way, I'm not sure which children with special needs you know, but everyone here locally, including the two in my home, saw the gap widen year by year! As young children, whether in Cub Scouts or in a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt, everyone could participate. Not so with fitting in socially as a pre-teen, advancing in activities, (for many) driving, or achieving well in college prep classes and preparing to leave home for hand-picked college.

            No, the roads began to diverge, but this is part of realizing where your son will be going. It does not, in any way, indicate that he will be unable to find what he loves to do, find ways to help and serve other people, or even find ways to earn money in the future. Things are just diverging.

            Your new role isn't to keep making him walk toward that first path, but to help him walk the diverging path with his head held high.



            Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
            And sorry I could not travel both
            And be one traveler, long I stood
            And looked down one as far as I could
            To where it bent in the undergrowth;

            Then took the other, as just as fair,
            And having perhaps the better claim,
            Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
            Though as for that the passing there
            Had worn them really about the same,

            And both that morning equally lay
            In leaves no step had trodden black.
            Oh, I kept the first for another day!
            Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
            I doubted if I should ever come back.

            I shall be telling this with a sigh
            Somewhere ages and ages hence:
            Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
            I took the one less traveled by,
            And that has made all the difference.

            --Robert Frost

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Time to throw in the towel?

              Susan,

              My heart goes out to you. I am praying for you too.

              Sarah xo
              Sarah

              Aussies from Sydney, Australia
              Miriam 10yo
              Jonathan 7yo
              Elissa 4yo
              Thomas nearly 2yo
              Baby due 1st July 2020

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Time to throw in the towel?

                Thank you, ladies, for reaching out to encourage me. It was just what the doctor ordered. Truly.

                Cheryl, I have read and re-read your words and can't stop crying. You struck a chord on so many levels within the deepest part of my soul. Perhaps this "place" I've come to this week, that I was assuming was a descent into the pit of despair, is really a new awakening. A time to wake up, step back, reassess.

                I'm not sure how much you remember from last summer, but the only reason I chose MP1 instead of SC2 was because of where my son already was at with his reading, spelling, writing. So when I looked at it all, and even at the regular MP Storytime Treasures, I thought (based on so many other activities I've done with him) that he could handle the ST Treasures work. And, as I wrote, some days he has breezed through it, other days he's stumped on some questions. I think as y'all continue to develop the levels I really envision myself perhaps intermingling lesson plans. OR, come this summer, I may feel like SC3 is a great next step fit for him. (I'm thinking the transition from MP1 to SC3 would probably work without any gaps, right?)

                Anyway, I like your suggestions A LOT. I need to rethink whether this music class (or any group class like this) is a good fit at this season. I long for more park time, walks, talks. But I'm chuckling at some of your suggestions of questions to ask him because, although he's 11, some of those might be challenging for him because of his language processing challenges! It's so strange ...this kid. Sometimes I miss the profound things he says. Other times my radar is in tune and up. (He has an older, extremely verbal, fairly high achieving big brother.....who has also spent HIS life being an interpreter for his younger brother!)

                Thank you, too, for sharing about Michael and this St. Louis experience. WOW! He sounds so much like my older son. In fact, both my boys LOVE people. Anyone who will talk to them they are drawn to! All ages, races, genders. I remember a time my older son (about 6 at the time, we were still living in CA) saw a homeless woman and her child on the street corner. He insisted his dad drive him home so he could get his money to give this woman. He gave away his life savings to her! Your kids are absolutely beautiful. I was so touched by that Challenger Baseball video. Which leads me to this....finding a place where square pegs are celebrated. Yes. This. Sadly, I'm in a smaller community that has less of this than if we were still living up in Fairfax County. I remember a family from church we connected with when we still lived in the Fairfax area. They had a teen with special needs and had become involved in a something similar to your challenger baseball. They ended up sharing they experienced more love and acceptance from this secular group than within their own church. It broke out hearts to hear that. I wouldn't say I'm experiencing that where we are now. (We are recent converts to Orthodoxy and attend a Western Rite parish here locally, less than 100 people.) I would say the people at our church genuinely love my son and believe he's a sweet boy. But I'm not sure people know how to connect with him. How do we make a way to express a need that we NEED others to put our special kids more on THEIR radar, to be in tune, to care, to reach out, to get to know?

                Well, I'll sign off for now. I know you are hunkering down awaiting some wintery weather and you have much work to do this weekend. So I know you can't respond to this now. But know you have forever touched my soul.....through your book, through meeting you, and through this forum. I cannot WAIT to spend time with y'all in KY in July (a mere few days AFTER I will have just turned 50! YIKES!)

                Much love in Christ,
                SusanP in VA
                Last edited by SPearson; 03-11-2017, 09:45 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Time to throw in the towel?

                  That poem was an amazing addition. I don't think I'll ever read it the same. So perfectly perfect to describe the path many of our kids are on. Just beautiful Cheryl. Thank you.

                  Susan. Hugs from the Colorado woods to you! We just took a week off of math because my son just hit a wall. I think we both needed a week to regroup.

                  Would this music lady be willing to do a solo lesson? Or, were you after the social side as well? I signed my kids up for group guitar lessons. Some weeks it's rather painful, my son's fine motor skills...he just can't make his fingers work the way he wants them to. But, he overall enjoys it and we keep going back.

                  Prayers for you and your guy
                  Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

                  DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
                  DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
                  DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

                  We've completed:
                  Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
                  Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Time to throw in the towel?

                    Sent you a PM, Susan. <3 Praying for you.

                    Short (bullet-pointed) answer:

                    1) You have not failed

                    2) He does not belong in public school. He belongs with you.

                    3) If music class isn't working, find something that does work (STEM-related activities, Lego club, martial arts -- my personal favorite -- horseback riding, swimming, track and field, Special Olympics of VA, model building, hiking -- we do a ton of that -- golf). Banging your head against the wall does nothing but give you a sore noggin. Stop it. He doesn't have to be good at everything. He doesn't have to be good at anything. He can just *be*. It is not in your job description to ensure he is fulfilled as a person. You offer opportunities, that is all. He chooses to engage; his brain latches on -- or it doesn't. Find something he can succeed at, that builds confidence. But don't ever expect him to be good at anything. That's sort of like expecting an owl to be a really good swimmer. What are owls good at? Seeing at night, flying silently, looking majestic, inspiring us. Is your sweet boy an owl? Or a fish?

                    4) You did not cause his struggles, you cannot cure them. Offer opportunities. Watch him take them or reject them. Be okay no matter what he chooses. You have to make yourself comfortable with his ability to struggle. That's uncomfortable. I know. But it's not optional.

                    5) Take some time off from school or pare it down. A week will do. Half days of school + hiking trails, sightseeing, running errands together, baking a cake together, painting, listening to music, talking, going to the movies, etc.. Take a staycation with him. Reduce the pressure on yourselves and enjoy the blessing of homeschooling.

                    6) Cry if you need to. As much as you need to. No one ever -- ever! -- said, "Oh? Homeschooling kids with significant special needs? Piece of cake!"

                    Again, check your PM. Get back to me. Would love to chat.
                    Boy Wonder: 10, MP2/SC4 (Special Needs)
                    Joy Bubble: 8, MP2 (Special Needs)
                    Snuggly Cowboy: 6, MPK
                    Sweet Lightness: 2, Reverse-Engineering Specialist

                    “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
                    ~Pope St John Paul II

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Time to throw in the towel?

                      Debbie, Susan, Catherine, Michelle and Anita...

                      THANK YOU! Truly. You are all so responsive and encouraging. It's even fun when I can put a face and a voice to your posts back to me!
                      (Anita, yes, amen, yes, amen. To all of that. I'll email/PM you back!)

                      Hugs,
                      SusanP

                      Comment

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