Intensive schooling


Active Member
We've had a hard day today. We've had a hard few days, actually, because difficult child 3 has been working on his Geography. Now when I and maybe you think of Geography, we maybe think about the principal expert of Nicaragua, or the population of New Zealand. But just about all he's been given so far this year (since end of January) has been - globalisation. He had an assessment task on the topic early in the school year. The task lasted weeks. Among other things, he had to find a primary source on globalisation, and several secondary sources. We simply couldn't find a primary source. Our very good dictionary simply didn't have the word. An encyclopedia had the word but it's a secondary source. Wikipedia and online dictionaries are often secondary sources also. We thought we'd seen the end of the topic, but he's just completed a second unit on the same topic, with at least one more to go. He's at screaming point and I'm not much better.

The trouble is, it's too "waffly" a topic for a kid with autism. I mean, he's doing remarkably well, but everything even remotely abstract has to be spelt out for him in very concrete terms. We're using mind maps and he STILL has trouble following it. His easiest question today was "What is a state? What is a nation? Give examples."
It's not as easy as it looks. His last question was along the lines of, "Globalisation is changing the face of the economic structure of the world. Explain the mechanisms and processes by which this is taking place and give examples using business, organisations and culture."
He had to do this in half a page.
He looked at it and said, "I can read it, but I can't understand it."

We worked through it as best we could. Now, he doesn't want me to help because "that's cheating." But he also can't stay on task if he can't get his mind into it, and without me there constantly prodding, nothing was happening. I sat with him to show him how to do a mind-map of the question. We look at the key points of the question - in this last example, "change in globalisation" and then put in examples (always good in a mind map, for a concrete kid). We subheaded "business", "organisation" and "culture" and gave examples there, as well as summary of what is needed/what is actually happening. It took ten minutes, then it took me the next two hours to explain it again. And again. Finally I resorted to examples. "difficult child 3 wants to start up a hamburger business in Zimbabwe. It would be stupid to import hamburger mince and vegetables from Australia, so difficult child 3 finds a local supplier. He also finds a local shop, local people to work in the shop, and advertises in the local language. And because it's important to break down language barriers, he needs staff who speak the local dialects as well as good English" (mind you, they do speak English in Zimbabwe).
We talked it through. He was able to write a few more sentences, then it was time for another example.
"The Fred Hollows Foundation wants to help people in poor countries, where people are blind and needn't be. Dr Fred Hollows taught local doctors how to do a simple operation to remove a cataract and replace it with an intraocular lens. The lenses are supplied by donations from around the world and cost $10 each. This is changing people's lives and works to improve the life and economy of the local people. It is bringing these people into contact with wealthier countries and often providing other support, such as better plumbing."
I had to simplify it to one old blind man and how getting a new lens can change the life of his family.

And so on, all afternoon.

Meanwhile easy child 2/difficult child 2 was trying to organise herself for her evening college class. She had completed her assignment and the printer failed. She needed to organise new oil in the car and things got too much, she had an anxiety attack and a total meltdown. Hysterics. I was dealing with her as well as difficult child 3.

Meanwhile difficult child 1 had been sitting in the next room playing a computer game, listening to the whole rigmarole with difficult child 3's Geography. Occasionally I called on him for support - "Mind maps are really good, difficult child 1 used them a lot through school, to do his writing tasks."
difficult child 1 dutifully agreed.
"I know you don't want to waste time on a mind map, but this really will save time."
difficult child 1 backed me up again.
When difficult child 3 was having a fit of hysterics and turned off the computer without saving, difficult child 1 told him to stop working himself up into a state and get on with the job.

I even got to shouting point with difficult child 3. He had complained I was nagging, when all I had said was, "How's it going?"
I yelled back at him, "I didn't say to you, 'Hurry up you lazy so-and-so and get some flamin' work done!' because THAT would be nagging!" difficult child 3 was in tears and I was ready to throw in the towel. But he did keep working because I turned and said quietly, "Now let's work together."

We finally finished difficult child 3's work an hour late. I rushed to email it to husband so he could print it at work, so we can take it in to school tomorrow.

Later, difficult child 1 came into the kitchen, marvelling at how slowly time seemed to pass for him this afternoon. "Welcome to my world," I told him. "I look back over my day and wonder how little I got done of my stuff, and yet how long the day has been. It brings back memories of you struggling with the same subjects in the same way."
He chuckled a little. "Oh yes, I do remember. I really don't know how you do it without wanting to throttle him. Or me, when it was in my day." He then came up and gave me a long, big hug. "Oh mother dear, I am so, so very sorry for all I've put you through!"

It really made so much of it all worthwhile.


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
What a day Marguerite and what a great ending with difficult child 3-how neat that he was so sweet-it brought a tear to my eye.


Well-Known Member

As mothers, after the worst of days, a "thank you", "I love you", and a hug can bring us to our knees and remind us why we are here! It was a rough day with a meaningful ending.



Active Member
Just to reinforce - it was difficult child 1, my 23 year old wannabe independent, who came and hugged me. It was his way of saying, "I'm only just realising how much you did for us, and how hard we were on you."

Very much appreciated. His humour uplifts me and his deep compassion and common sense is something I never thought I'd see. Now all we have to deal with is his anxiety, and his lack of personal organisation... he is getting there, though.

He's bringing girlfriend home on Friday, we hope - we need to sit down and have a serious talk to both of them, about their lives and their plans. They have problems (not with each other) which no other parent seems capable of helping with, and until we can sort those problems neither of them can make progress in life.

Wish us luck!