Welcome to this week’s Family, Fun & Homeschooling!
This week, I am happy to introduce you to Missica from The Open Window-An Autism Blog. Missica is a fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew member and blogger; and, of course, she’s a homeschooler. Meet Missica!
Tell us about your blog. What was the spark of the idea that enabled you to create The Open Window-An Autism Blog?
My son was in Early Intervention (Birth to 3) for autism from the age of 14 months to 3 years old. He had a speech therapist who always said I needed to blog about our lives. I would send out monthly emails called “Brady Brigade” that detailed progress, things we did, etc. I created my own form of therapy for him, and with God’s Grace helped him to go from severely autistic to high functioning. He is VERY verbal now, and says some of the funniest things I call Braydenisms. After a large following on Facebook over these Braydenisms (#Braydenism) she again asked me to b log or write in some way. After graduating with my undergraduate degree I found I needed to do something, thus the blog was born!
Do you have a favorite blogging topic that you return to again and again?
I’ve not been blogging long. I’m still trying to find my niche, so to speak. I want to inspire others to do, think, feel…BE! I want to give hope, and I want others to know that an autism diagnosis isn’t the end of the world, but a beginning to a new world.
Tell us about your family. How did you and your husband meet? And what would you like to share about your children?
We both come from a large family. I had been divorced from my son’s dad for a while, and my mom kept telling me I needed to go out and meet someone. I was content the way I was, but met Matt online. As we talked, we discovered that our dads had been very good friends before my dad died! I had actually talked to his dad several times! Then we discovered his aunt had been married to very close family friends. I gave in, we went on a date…5 1/2 years later the rest is history! He has taken my son in like his own, and most of the time we forget he’s not his own!
What made you decide to homeschool?
My son needed 1-on-1 attention, and he wasn’t going to get that in public school. I tried a private preschool when he was 5, and he was bullied badly by both students AND teachers. At IEP meeting for kindergarten, I discovered they were basing all of his services and recommendations based on his older cousin who is also on the spectrum. They did not want to listen to me about any of HIS issues, and how they differed. They kept acting and talking as if they knew him more than I did. I made the decision to homeschool for just a couple of grades. His biological dad was very much against it, so we compromised with homeschooling until 2nd grade. It wasn’t long until we discovered he excelled and blossomed even more than anyone could have imagined!
I was also advised that homeschooling was the best option by his pediatrician, who was also a homeschooling parent, and an educational therapist I took him to.
What does a day in your homeschool look like?
I don’t think we have a typical day. Kids with autism get very rigid with schedules and routines. Even though schedules and routines are very beneficial for all kids, especially kids with autism, I know that life is not always on schedule. So I have made it a point not to be routinized and overly scheduled, so he is forced to develop coping mechanisms to always adapt to change. We tend to wake up and have breakfast first. We do morning meds, and I usually let him have some free time as I am checking messages, working a little, taking calls, etc. I try to have a weekly or monthly game plan of what I want to cover, but if he’s really into a specific topic I will toss outmy plans for his interests. For example, I had every intention to go into an in-depth unit of simple machines, but he’s really into minerals now thanks to The Weather Channel‘s program called “Prospectors.” So we have done a lot with minerals. We usually do at least two subjects a day formally, but he’s always doing something educational. He loves to read informational texts, so he does that a lot. We also do a lot of science-based activities for fun. Right now he’s playing a train simulations game where he builds train systems, cities, etc.
I usually get him started, and I give him a goal to complete before I come back to check on him. If he needs help, I have him save those until the end so that he may discover the answer on his own. When he gets something wrong, or has significant difficulty with a particular concept, we work on it a lot more. When something comes very easily, we skip over.
I want him to have fun, but at the same time I want him to understand that not everything is fun and sometimes, whether we like it or not, we have to do what we have to do.
Do you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?
I live kind of far away from my family, so date night is quite uncommon. I have 100% full custody, so there is no visitation with his bio-dad or anything like that either. We do a lot of family date nights. We generally pick somewhere to go eat, and either see a movie or go to a family fun center.
We have a great system for picking. One picks 3 choices; one picks 2; and then the last person makes the final choice.
When Matt and I do get time alone we like to grab a bite to eat, and go see a movie. Late nights I like to see a movie, go grab some diner food somewhere, and head to Walmart. There’s nothing quite like our Walmart at 2AM! HAHA!
What are some of your favorite mama-child activities?
We like going to the park, having lunch out, playing board games, and singing and dancing through the house. It’s always just been the two of us, so we’re really close! We have deep discussions on meteorology, we do projects together, and just hang out! He likes to cuddle and watch games shows too!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Autism shouldn’t carry a stigma. I’ve met so many who feel the need to hide the fact that their child has autism, and I just don’t understand that. Autism is a brain disorder, and it is growing in prevalence thanks to more awareness. There is no cure, but there are a lot of treatments and ways to manage it. And early intervention is key! If you even have a hint of a suspicion that your child may have autism, don’t feel ashamed or afraid! Just call your state’s early intervention bureau and set up an evaluation. It won’t hurt a thing, but it could be the one thing that pulls your child through the Open Window of autism before that window closes!
I’m new to this whole crazy world of blogging, but I’m learning! Right now my blog is growing. It’s still in its infancy, but I’m always welcome to suggestions. So please, drop by and visit, and join me as I grow in this new world of blogging!
I hope you’ve loved getting to know Missica and her family–and life–just a bit. Be sure to visit her over at The Open Window-An Autism Blog! And join us next week for another episode of Family, Fun & Homeschooling!