A Controversial Decision

August 19, 2012

Josh and I recently made a controversial decision.  Not everyone agrees with us and that is hard to deal with, but a decision has been made and we are not changing our minds now.  We have decided to home school Gavin this fall.   This decision is controversial because Gavin’s biggest struggle (I’d say) are his underdeveloped social skills.  Many would argue that school is the best place for a child like this.  If we remove him from school, he will be removed from the peer interaction that he so desperately needs.   But I disagree.  School can actually be the worse place for a child like Gavin.   Every day he enters the classroom overwhelmed and overstimulated.  There are hundreds of little noises and distractions stealing his attention.  There are kids who are mean, there are kids who don’t understand, and more importantly, there are TEACHERS who don’t understand.  He ends up not knowing what to do with himself, the kids and teachers don’t know what to do with him, so they just leave him alone.  After all the trouble we had this past year, it broke my heart to think about him returning to an environment that just doesn’t “get” him.

Guess what.  I GET HIM.  I KNOW my Gavin better than anyone else.  I LOVE my Gavin more than anyone else.  I WANT to help him more than anyone else.  I can and I will.

A while back, we took Gav out on a breakfast “date” to discuss what we had decided.   Honestly, I wasn’t sure how he’d take it.  He does really enjoy school (at least he says he does) but he also really loves his time at home on his days off.  Our conversation could have gone either way.

Right as Josh told him our plans for the fall, a sweet old man came up and offered Gavin a piece of hard candy…….the kind of candy Gav remembers swallowing whole…..and then he talked of nothing else except that time he swallowed that candy.  School?  Who cares where I go to school?  Remember when I swallowed the candy and it hurt going down?   So, yeah.  Gav’s fine with home schooling.  Since then, he’s told every random person he meets that he’s going to be home schooled this year…….and that he’s never going back to real school ever again.  (Well, we’ll see).

That same day we also had a date with Liam because we feared he would find it unfair that Gav got to stay home while he had to go all day to school. (We love Liam’s school and don’t want to pull him.  Plus there’s a ridiculously long waiting list and he’d never get back in).

Josh nicely explained how Gav needs some extra help and we think he’d be better suited for learning at home.  All the while, Liam is checking out a painting above Josh’s head.  As soon as Josh was done talking, Liam started commenting on the picture.  I’m not even sure he was ever listening.  Oh well.  We thought the news might rock someone’s world, but apparently candy and art are more important.

I have an awesome support system at the place where Gavin receives tutoring.  One of the directors has her masters degree in curriculum and she was beyond excited to help me figure out exactly what to do with Gavin this fall.  (She has also worked one on one with Gav several times, so she knows exactly where he’s at academically).  One day I dropped him off and she had a list of books for me to pick up at our local school supply store.  Easy peasy.  I trust her judgement completely and as we get closer to our “official” start date the more excited I become.

I truly believe this is the best choice for Gavin THIS YEAR.  I’m not saying we’ll home school forever.  But I am determined to make it work this year.  I know it’s going to be hard.  I know there will be days (probably a lot) where I’ll feel like giving up, but in the end, there’s no better choice.

In sharing my fears with Josh about screwing things up, he joked that I can’t be any worse than what Gav’s already had at school.  And he’s totally right.  I got this.

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7 Responses to “A Controversial Decision”

  1. someone special is at the door. . . it's grandma! said

    You’re absolutely right, Em, you’ve SO got this! And there are a lot of us who also love Gav, and we’ve got your back.
    When/ if it gets tough just remember: “candy and art are more important”!
    Gavie is gonna SHINE this year!

  2. marcie said

    If anybody can do this, it’s you Em. If you need, I’m available to babysit Tate and Sloane. Just let me know.

  3. How will you ever know what is really best and what really works with Gavin if you don’t try all of your options? Really, if one thing doesn’t work, then onto the next! I am excited to hear how it goes! And especially with something like Autism, where it affects every child differently and to different extremes, I don’t think you can say it is a “one size fits all” answer when it comes to what learning and social environment works for autistic children. (Not that I am an expert or anything haha!)

  4. Paula said

    We support you 100%! YOU know what is best for Gavin and you have never given him anything less!! We admire your tireless pursuit to research, discern, and provide Gavin with what he needs, even when it is not convenient or easy for you. You guys have risen to every challenge you have faced and have done so with grace and determination. Mark and I have often commented to each other that Gavin so lucky to have such loving & devoted parents! We will be praying for you as you homeschool him this year. Let us know how it goes!

  5. Josh said

    There is no one more qualified, more determined, or better suited to teach Gavin. I said it the day he was born and it is still true today. You are my hero.

  6. elisabeth da-da-da-da-DEMPSEY! said

    i loved reading this and all the supportive, encouraging comments as well. one of the most important reasons i believe “you’ve got this” is because gavin is your son. he’s been entrusted to you. to YOUR care. moms like you (i WISH i could say this to be true of all moms, but sadly, i just can’t) don’t allow for failure. they know it is up to them, and they will not shortchange their children. i’m so proud of you.

  7. Bridie Sellers said

    I think you will be great! Even if it is big and scary and overwhelming, you will make it work – well, because that’s when we moms are at our best – when the stakes are high. I’m sure you can find many other options to work on socialization, and shame on anyone who would question your decision.

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