I’m starting this blog to share my thoughts and ongoing experiences of learning differently. I’m the mother of a boy with autism, aged 10. He’s non-verbal and classed as having a learning disability, and we’ve recently taken the plunge into home education (or home schooling, if you prefer that term). Here on the blog I’ll be referring to our son by one of his nicknames, “Penguin”.
There’s already an abundance of great blogs about education, and the same goes for blogs about autism and special needs parenting. So why am I starting this blog? Well, to some extent it may serve as a kind of homeschool diary, documenting some of the things we get up to (though it will by no means be a complete record). I’m hoping that sharing our experiences can be of use to others, and that we can contribute somewhat to the knowledge and understanding of how learning and development can be achieved in a variety ways, especially when it comes to children who are “differently wired”.
I’m hoping to show ways of putting theory into practise, when it comes to learning differently. I’ve read a great deal of articles, pages, books etc on how to help a child learn and develop, especially concerning kids with ASD or related differences. I’ve learnt the importance of building on personal interests and motivations, and how multi-sensory stimulation can help strengthen neurological pathways. I’ve also ploughed through hundreds, if not thousands, of inspirational posts on learning activities, occupational therapy exercises, etc. Now I’m connecting the dots between the why (theories) and the what (practical activities). I also see this blog, and it’s facebook page, twitter feed etc, as a chance to share and give credit to some of the great resources that are already out there.
Of the blogs that I’ve come across so far, there aren’t many focusing on learning for a person who is seen as having severe learning disabilities (for an idea on how “severe learning disabilities” can be defined, head over to challengingbehaviour.org.uk ). So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to contribute somewhat in that area, for example on things like: How do we find alternative ways of communication? How can we help in developing necessary life skills, and becoming more independant? And most importantly, how can I make my child’s life a happy and pleasurable experience, so that they can feel joy and excitement about exploring the world, and learning? I’m sure there are gazillions of parents out there who share the same hopes and aspirations for their children, with or without learning differences, and I’m hoping that Sensational Learning can be of use and inspiration to some of you. And for those of you who, like me, have a youngster who’s still working on grasping basic concepts, who struggles with communication, and in many aspects is more on a level with children much younger than himself, I hope this can be a place for support and encouragement. Not only to share helpful tips and progress, but also to lean on each other when feeling completely worn out and quite useless (which is pretty often for me personally, if I’m honest).
I’ve chosen “Respect Motivation Passion” as subheading for this site, since those are three things that I believe are key to learning and development, especially when learning doesn’t come easy. We need to respect the child and how they may experience and process things very differently to more “neurotypical” children (and adults). We need to find what motivates them. What are their interests, strengths, sensory preferences etc? And when it comes to passion, it applies in more than one direction: Not only do we want the child to find their passions, and through those open up more enjoyable ways of learning, but we also need to feel a passion ourselves, for their learning and development. It’s usually when we really get into something, that great things can be achieved. And in my experience, these kids really pick up on your moods, so if you’re not that bothered to do something well, nor will they be. And although we may not be on top of our game everyday, we need to find our motivation and passion, as well as theirs. So, let’s get into it, and share the excitement.