Thursday, 21 November 2013
I think my son must be autistic…
Reading the Ofsted publication, Local Authorities and Home Education, 090267, 2010; something rather curious strikes one. After mentioning that a quarter of the parents who spoke to the inspectors had children with special educational needs, the report continues;
There were also those whose parents, often supported by medical diagnosis, identified the children (many of whom were very able) as having some form of autistic spectrum disorder.
I understand this to mean that among the parents who met the inspectors were those who had themselves diagnosed their own children as being on the autistic spectrum, without any clinical input by a doctor, educational psychologist or anybody else. This is not in the least surprising; claiming that their children are autistic, dyslectic or are suffering from dyspraxia, is something of a theme running through large swathes of the British home education scene. How many readers have either heard at groups or read on blogs and internet lists, statements such as;
I’m sure my son has Aspergers
I told his teacher that I thought she was dyslectic
I think he may be on the spectrum
Now it’s entirely possible that some of these children will go on to be diagnosed with such syndromes, but an awful lot won’t. In fact some of these parents admit that their son or daughter has seen a psychologist who has found no signs of autism or dyslexia. This does not shake their conviction that there is a neurological reason for their child’s inability to learn to read or get on with other kids.
This seems to be a particularly home educating thing. Most of the parents that I have dealings with at schools, commonly resist any suggestion that their children are different; let alone that they have some kind of learning difficulty. Home educating parents, by contrast, often embrace the idea with a strange fervor! I am not at all sure why this should be, but there is no doubt at all that it is something which crops often in home education in this country. Even more curious is the way in which some home educating parents then adopt autism as an identity for themselves. They suddenly realise that the reason that they didn’t have many friends when they were at school was because they were autistic. Obviously, they were geniuses, savants on the spectrum who went unrecognised by their stupid teachers! This really is a home educating thing; in the sense that I have never encountered it in any other parents. This self-identification with people with Kanner’s and Asperger’s syndromes can be taken to weird extremes. The woman running the biggest face book group for home educators, she lives in Doncaster, even signed up to an Aspies’ dating site a couple of years back.
None of this is to suggest that many home educated children are not on the autistic spectrum. I am merely observing that whereas in the schooled population there is often a reluctance to accept such a diagnosis, among home educators it seems almost to be a badge of honour; allowing them to join the club, as it were!