In high school, I was far from the thinnest girl in any of my classes, and quickly learned I never would be. What drove it home even more were four little words that were on the tags of lots of night shirts, robes, swimsuit covers, and more…
One Size Fits All
In life, one size never fits all. It might make life easier if everything were clear cut, black and white. We could all fit inside a perfect little box, all wrapped up with a perfect little bow on top. Never any questions, judgement of others, second guessing ourselves because everyone would be the same.
Oh, how boring! Life may or may not be easier, and without a doubt, it would be boring with everyone fitting the same set of standards, doing the same things.
Just like those one size fits all clothes, there is no one size fits all education. Even in the same family, there is not necessarily a one size fits all education. That’s why sometimes parents make different choices for different kids.
One Size Fits Most
Over the past several years, I have seen more of the one size fits most tags, and never a one size fits all. Sadly, those sizes don’t fit me either. I think, it probably is for most sizes, since they are usually about an extra large and probably, most people do wear an XL or smaller.
I think it is probably similar to a brick and mortar school. A public/private education with actual classrooms, desks, chairs, and 2 dozen other kids in the same room. I think that is the one size fits most choice for education in America.
And truly, barring extenuating circumstances, I think that setting does work for most children in our country. However, it does not fit all children. There is no such thing as a one size fits all education. Since most does not equal all, there are other education choices to be made for some children.
In fact, that most can even be taken from America to one home in America. Since each child is different, it is possible to make a different choice for each child, even for education purposes.
Just like I would not make all 4 of my children wear only green skinny jeans, because one or more may not fit well in skinny jeans…I would not assume that each of my children would benefit from the same choices in education.
And so …
This is why we have made a different choice for one of our children.
As you know, D has high functioning autism. His autism manifests itself primarily as overwhelming, unfathomable anxiety. His anxiety is debilitating in many, many situations.
His anxiety was, at one point, so intense that we were unable to leave the house. He was unable to eat in a restaurant, make a trip to the store, or even go to church. His anxiety was so severe that the idea of school would send him flying into a rage, he would react in such a way that I was unable to drive him to school. Trying to get him onto a bus was a physical fight, so difficult that the bus driver even told me one morning, even if we get him on this bus, I refuse to drive him. What if he attacks me like that? Yeah, it was anxiety, not bad behavior.
When D came home from residential treatment, he was thrown from one wild and crazy situation into another one. To make matters worse, we had to move while he was in residential, so not only was he thrown into a new situation, his whole world had turned upside down. Therefore, his anxiety was out of sight. He was unable to make it to school, so we ended up finally moving him from a school building to a homebound level of services with the school system. Essentially, since the services were not consistent, we did his education for most of that year.
As things progressed and his anxiety was better controlled, we did a lot of praying, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of working with many professionals. Ultimately, as a team, we decided that D really needed to be in public school.
It was not an easy decision, in fact it was excruciating. However, based on the level of anxiety, we were afraid that keeping him home would only serve to increase it. By keeping him home, allowing the social aspects of his anxiety to increase, we were afraid that he would become a total recluse. We were afraid that our choices to keep him home would create a more difficult lifelong situation for him.
In addition, his brain compartmentalizes parts of his life. He has separate compartments for school and home. They are so separate in his brain that even the easiest homework is crossing a boundary that he cannot really handle. So, trying to teach him at home was not an easy task, not even when a teacher from outside came in for the homebound services.
Getting him to public school is still a challenge. He is still experiencing a lot of school/social anxiety. He uses every bit of energy in his body to survive a school day both socially and emotionally. However, his anxiety is slowly reducing with the help of a marvelous school based team, a psychiatrist who is on the ball, and a lot of prayer.
So, while the days are not always easy, we are seeing a great deal of growth and improvement. We are seeing him mature, make better decisions in uncomfortable social situations, and better decisions overall.
I assure you, I would like to have him home. I would love the opportunity to spend the day with him in a learning environment, especially teaching him about the love of God. I would love to have the happy little homeschool that I read about on so many other blogs, but that doesn’t fit all in our family.
That’s not real life, though … real life is making a different decision for each child, whether it is the popular decision or not.
What difficult, and different choices have you had to make for your children?