CC image courtesy of Shade Ardent, sagebrushMoon Studios.
On my journey as a homeschool alumna with higher functioning autism, it is patriarchy, not the homeschooling, that caused the problems I have faced.
Homeschooling was Mom’s idea. Her public school experience was horrible, and she was thrilled when she heard Raymond Moore talk about homeschooling on Focus on the Family.
Dad was not thrilled about homeschooling but agreed to do it “until high school”. Mom was to focus on academics and not follow Raymond Moore’s “unschooling” method which focused on teaching children real life skills and learning at their own pace. Mom, to her continuing regret, obeyed Dad because she had been taught that wives submit to their husbands.
Unknown to us at the time, not only was I on the autism spectrum, but my father also fits the criteria though unlike me, he has not been officially diagnosed.
For the sake of my family, I will not go into details of all the issues my family has faced because of Dad’s likely higher functioning autism along with likely narcissism. When Mom sought help from church leaders for Dad’s issues, she was told they were her fault for not “submitting enough”. Mom did her best to follow the advice in the book “Me? Obey Him?” by Elizabeth Rice Handford, but overall, the horrible advice in the book made things worse, not better.
Because of Dad’s issues, my family never fit into to the local homeschool community and I never had close friends there.
Meanwhile, I learned from patriarchy that one did not become an adult until one got married, that single, childless, women were worthless, that women needed to be submissive, and that it was a sin for a woman to work outside the home. I also learned that psychology was evil and that environmentalists were crazy.
I knew that I was different, and the outside world was scary. The idea of staying home and homeschooling my children was safe. I wanted to follow God with all my heart, to fit in, to be safe. So I planned for nothing else in life but to be a wife and mother.
Meanwhile, homeschooling me was far from easy on my precious mother.
But MOM! I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS! I HATE MATH!! I would scream.
Mom would tell me to put it aside for awhile, which was difficult to do. I wanted math out of the way so that I could relax. Mom went through multiple math curriculums with me.
Alas, battles over math were not the only issues Mom faced with her higher functioning autistic daughter. Among other things, I was extremely sensitive to certain stimuli, socially awkward, threw fits when her routine was disturbed, and became an expert on subjects she was passionate about.
Because Mom was so focused on my problems, she did not have the energy and time to give my younger brother the help that he needed, for which I feel bad. Thankfully younger brother is overcoming the issues we had during our youth and is becoming a success.
Thankfully, Dad did not believe in the extreme tenets of patriarchy and insisted that I get my GED, which enabled me to go to college.
Unfortunately, my college education has been worthless career wise because of the lethal effects of patriarchy when it is combined with autism. As I discovered, one can be free on the outside but bound on the inside.
God in his great mercy has led me out of patriarchy, but the effects remain.
Meanwhile, I am deeply grateful that I was homeschooled, and that I was not diagnosed with autism until I was 21. My quiet, happy, mostly isolated homeschooling years spared me the stress of life and thus given me more strength to handle the challenges of life.
I am also grateful for decisions by both parents that have helped me learn coping skills. When I was seven, Dad decided to get chickens. I became their caretaker, and they became my therapy. Many times I would wake up depressed, and caring for my chickens would cheer me up.
They also helped teach me responsibility and other life lessons.
Mom, who worked as an LPN during the early years of my life, became disillusioned with the harsh, ineffective treatments she saw in her work and started to seek out alternatives to modern medicine. There were many times when she could have put me on drugs, but chose to seek out alternatives to my issues. Thanks to her suggestions, diet has helped me function more easily.
Since my autism diagnosis, I have heard dozens of horror stories from individuals on the autism spectrum who went to public school. I know that going to public school would have been a horrible experience for me, even though I might have been diagnosed with autism earlier. At the same time, I have heard homeschooling horror stories from neurotypical people and people with various mental issues.
I still believe that homeschooling is the best option for those on the autism spectrum because it enables those with autism to learn at their own pace in a safe, comfortable environment. But since not every parent is perfect, I think that homeschooling should only be done by mentally healthy parents free from the influence of patriarchy who truly love and want the best for their children.
Overall, for this “Aspie” being homeschooled is one of the greatest blessings of my life. It’s the patriarchy that did the damage, and I will never stop fighting to end it.