You may of noticed I have had a long break, nothing dramatic I was just feeling a little jaded and needed to focus on myself and my child first and foremost for a while.
I have been working on my health both mental and physical and that of my son. It has given me time to reflect, some distance and a chance to look back on what I have learnt since discovering PDA, my son’s autism diagnoses, starting home education and my becoming a blogger – without too many outside influences.
What I have realised is that I have been naturally drawn in a particular direction and when I allow that pull to take me that my child thrives. I have realised that is easy to get caught up in opinions and taken for granted ‘truths’ and equally much it is easy to get caught in campaigning for things to change when perhaps systems and attitudes are just not fit for purpose.
I think for a while now I have been fighting against the fact I am far more radical than I realised or perhaps circumstances have radicalised me? Who knows!
What I do know however is that from now on I am going to go with my gut and tell it as I see it, not filtered through opinions of society, organisations or anything else. I felt I had been doing that before but I realise now I have always tempered myself, talking about my child needing an approach out of the norm because he is autistic or PDA but do you know what? I believe my child is here to encourage me to champion the rights of all children, I believe one day we will look back on this period of time regarding the treatment of children in the same way as we look back on the period before black emancipation, or before the woman’s rights movement. I believe it is time for change and I believe that PDAers are the ones who are showing us the urgency for that need to change.
I said to my son the other day ‘I’m just checking in with you as to how you feel about school now and if you were wanting to go back.’ He looked at me as if I was completely insane and said ‘NO! Why on earth would I?’
My son you see now has every confidence he can (and will) achieve all he wants to achieve, he feels school was the prison that held him back, made him feel bad and stunted him. He does not see it as somewhere to learn but rather somewhere where information of someone else’s choice was forced upon him, where your own views and autonomy were not respected or even considered and where children were taught to follow like sheep and encouraged to call each other out if they exhibited any kind of difference, so, indeed why would he? Why would any child?
Perhaps this system that was created to stop rich factory owners and other employers from exploiting the poor by paying so little that the whole family including the children had to work (ie school) has had its day?
Ironically the system has now changed so that it supports a society where both parents have to work to be able to afford a reasonable quality of life or even in many case just the basics like a home by providing free child care and parents support the idea of school because they could not finically manage without it and therefore tend to focus on the perceived positives or more commonly don’t even stop to question its use as a system for educating their child with very little input from them.
Similarly, there was a time when my son and I were constantly at loggerheads, I followed strict and widely condoned parenting techniques and felt hurt, confused and angry when he could not comply and shouted insults at me calling me a ‘bad mummy’ and ‘the worst mummy in the world’ and upsetting me greatly. Eventually I learnt a different approach, better suited to my not son, not just as an autistic child or a PDAer but as a human being with his on wants and needs.
But what if I say I now believe that all children would benefit from a more collaborative approach?
What if I encouraged all parents to rip up the rule book and think again? To have a relationship with our children on equal terms? To trust that they want to be the best they can and look to us not for boundaries as much as guidance on how to be a valued human being? That the parent child relationship is just like any other relationship and it is time we stopped treating it as a parent dictatorship for our own convenience?
I think what I am trying to say is I wanted to get the world to change in the way it treated my child, to make exceptions and justify the exemptions I make myself for him being autistic but I have come to the conclusion that the world needs to change not just to be more tolerant and adaptive to difference but to celebrate each and everyone of us as equal, valued and listened to.
I believe in many ways PDAers are the Litmus paper for society, they being the most intolerant of injustice and structure for structures sake are showing the cracks on behalf of us all.
I have always said that there is nothing wrong with my son that it is the world that needs to change but now I feel that deeper than ever and on behalf of all of its children diagnosed, not diagnosed, mentally ill or mentally well or apparently coping or not.
Our children do not need better mental health services as much as a society who doesn’t damage their mental health in the first place. We should not be drugging or forcing children so that they can attend school we should be asking why are places that children need to be forced to go to accepted as the best place for them to spend the majority of there time let alone inform their impressionable minds. We should not be restricting screen time but asking why it is that children need hours of escape from the world around them? We should not be informing arbitrary rules but asking what it is that feeds our children’s souls and makes them value creating their own positive role within the family. We should not be filled with fear for their safety but creating children who know how to minimise and deal with danger, say no, and respect themselves and their own bodies.