Inspiration Behind The Atypical Bird Academy
So why "The Atypical Bird Academy"? Well, learning about birds has helped me understand my daughter. Here are these creatures that have evolved our millions of years into the beautiful oddballs of the animal kingdom. They are underestimated. They are written off as stoic and not emotional. Birds are seen as unpredictable and sometimes aggressive. And yet with all the misinformation and failure to understand their unique way of socializing, many breeds of birds remain some of the smartest animals on the planet. Mother Nature doesn't sweat labels. Mother Nature will let the cute extroverted dogs win the popularity contest and birds will continue learning and doing their thing. That's what I want for my daughter. I want to teach her on her level. I don't want to pretend she is something she is not so she can be painfully crammed into the mold of public school. I have the opportunity teach her at home and I am going to do it!
I have already dealt with the skeptics. "What are you going to do to get her around kids?" "What about kids?" Blah blah blah. Well, not to be rude but I honestly think this idea that she will learn to properly socialize in a sea of children is a myth perpetuated by adults with selective memory loss. Do you remember elementary school? I do. I was a neurotypical introverted kid that loved to draw. I was fortunate enough to have some friends but I had A LOT of social anxiety. I was not a huge fan of recess. If that swing was taken I was pretty screwed because that meant I would have to navigate the playground. My teachers let me spend a lot of extra time in the art room. I loved alone time. Ok fast forward, my daughter takes after me a lot but she is neurologically atypical and struggles to connect the dots about her social anxiety. To expand on that, as a child, I looked at the extroverted sociable kids and knew that was what was expected of me. I may have been anxious but I had the tools to fake it at times. Nothing dark, just what we all do: smile, say 'good morning. how are you?' etc. So if I was to send my daughter that lacks the ability to 'fake it' on the playground when she gets anxious, what am I setting her up for? Currently my daughter runs up to children and jumps up and down stimming. So what is the answer? I assure you the answer is not keeping her away from kids. My plan: teach her academics and speech at home, supplement that with speech and ABA therapy, enroll her in social groups in ABA therapy. Social groups will consist of small groups of neuro-atypical kids being guided with a trained ABA therapist. She will learn appropriate responses to other people and how to manage her social anxiety. That is a much more effective way to get Sofie "around kids." So that is the rambling Manifesto of the Atypical Bird Academy. I will be updating this blog a lot and hope our journey will be informative for anyone considering home schooling that is in a position to do so. And if you are reading this with a neuro-atypical child that you cannot home school, know that this Mom thinks you are doing a great job. I think you are truly doing everything you can to help your child succeed. And I hope a few of the lesson plans I post on here are something that you can use at home. Good luck to us all!