I often walk a fine line between honoring who my son is and teaching him the skills required to live as independently as possible.⠀
I first became aware of this tug of war when dealing with my son’s sensory aversions. He has a strong objection to the texture of playdough. The sight of it makes him gag heavily. Disappointed, I worked on desensitizing him. I found myself further discouraged as his physical reactions were so severe, he sometimes dry-heaved.⠀
How far should I push my son to build skills others deem necessary?⠀
Strict corrective interventions have never felt right to me.
Schools are good at being “fixer factories” where problems in kids are identified, then corrected so that children conform to a set of standards outlined by some far-removed team of “experts.” The history of schools as correctional institutions is rooted in white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, and ableism. A child’s weaknesses are at the forefront of lessons, evaluations, and reports. There is little regard for a child’s unique qualities because the system is set-up for standardization.⠀
Fixing children to fit a mould stems from systemic internalized ableism that runs rampant in schools.
I wasn’t aware of this myself until I was on the outside. Accommodations are difficult to implement, buildings are highly inaccessible (hint: it’s not all fixed with ramps), and objectives are often set for the student. The end-goal is to make a child more like other children.⠀
I believe all people should be given every possibility to thrive.
And, I don’t want my son to thrive for others. I don’t want him to change so that he’ll be accepted by society.
I foster his differences, not fix his “issues.”
This is how I approach home education.⠀
Most days, we’re dancing on a tightrope that sits neatly between remediating and accepting my son right where he is. We move forward; then, we pull back to where he’s most comfortable. We move forward again, then pull back again to find that “just right” spot.
At all times, I follow my son’s lead.