Help With Your Mother's Rule

Help With Your Mother's Rule is a forum for women who want trouble-shooting help with their Mother's Rules or about any aspect of the 5 Ps of the married vocation.

Ask Holly: This blog is composed of your questions. Contact me at the address listed on Holly's Helpers page and I will respond. Please share your unique ideas as well. The more ideas and experience we share, the more successful every mother will be in designing her own unique Mother's Rule.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Discerning School Options

Dear Holly,
 My son has been recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and resulting chronic anxiety. I had to pull him out of his mainstream Catholic school as he was too anxious and the school could not meet his needs. We have been looking at other options. There are other non- Catholic schools on the other side of town or in another city that could be helpful but again it would still be stressful for him on the playground and he cannot get funding as he is academically capable. We need to find a school that can negotiate with us and be open but is very difficult where we are. Homeschooling would be great for him but I just feel that I would not get a break. I keep praying but I really think it is not for me. I get stressed enough as it is and my mother is in another town and doesn't want to care for the kids. My husband's mother is in another town too but cannot care for the kids. It is pretty much me and my husband with an occasional babysitter. I would love him to do Montessori but it is really expensive and the schools aren't that keen on taking special needs kids especially if they have not done preschool. The thought of spending years homeschooling without a break scares me. Often it is the scariest things that God wants us to do! Have you got anything positive to say? We live in a small community. It was hard enough trying to find a decent doctor who knew enough about Autism to diagnose my son! Thought about moving many times...


  1. I hear you! And what I hear the most is your fear. You are very aware of your son's needs, and of the consequences of the many different options - from secular schools to schools across town, to moving, to Montessori, etc - but none of these seem right.

    I came across something just today in St Benedict's Rule - "No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else." (Rule, 72) I think you see that your decision making and perhaps the resultant confusion, is because you are looking at your own 'needs' first, out of fear, over the needs of your son - you fear of "not getting a break", "its not really for me", "I get stressed enough" and "years of homeschooling without a break scares me."

    Any sane parent could look at all of parenting and know we are not 'up to it', especially the more we understand our responsibilities. Very much like the apostles who wanted to "send the crowds away" because they knew they were powerless to meet the needs. I felt this way myself prior to my rule. What was called for in my life was a serious trust in God re: what He was asking of me. And He was asking it of me based upon the circumstances I saw in my life, and the need before me, as a parent, to meet the educational needs, especially the faith formation, of my children in a culture full of secularism, atheism, materialism, etc . I also have a child with a disability and I have found educating this one to be especially fulfilling.

    Look at your son's needs. He needs special care. He needs a reduction of anxiety. He needs his mother and father to meet those needs. The schools do not seem to be viable options, for you or for him.

    Sometimes God permits circumstances in our lives to occur in order to call forth our own growth and maturity. Scripture tells us that fear is not to be the basis of our decisions. Instead, with great trust in God, and using our reason, working with our spouses and doing what we can to serve the needs of our family, we are to go forth, in trust, and do what we know to be best. I think this may just be your call.

    Don't let your fear blind you to your vocation. There is no peace outside of God's Will - in other words, no matter how scary things appear, you will find your fulfillment, your meaning and effectively, your very salvation, in following God's Will, as manifested in the needs of your family. JPII's first message to the world was "Be not afraid".

    How to do this?
    Pray for strength.Give God your 'fiat', your 'yes', like Mary. Consecrate yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    Then, Educate yourself. Learn the skills and knowledge you need to raise your son the way he needs. Study autism. Study homeschooling. Have patience with yourself when you inevitably find you are not perfect. Plan for the needed breaks and ways to have space and conquer stress - both out of the house, and at home during the day when your son is with you, in order to function, nay, 'live' well. Find community with an older woman to talk to, or an online group of parents who homeschool or have autistic children. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    Address your fear. Otherwise, you will not 'see' what God is asking, you will not have the courage to do it, and you will miss out on the many good things He has in store for you down the path you fear to tread. Remember, you are not alone - Emmanuel - God with us.

  2. Hi!

    My son has also been diagnosed with mild autism recently (4 months ago - he's three year's old). It has been really hard to accept (in fact, it's still is), but I learned that with therapy, autism is treatable to a certain point. ABA therapy is the most researched and scientifically proven treatment to date and RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) is a newer therapy that may help with anxiety. I don't know if you have been able to access any of those, but I strongly suggest you look at what's available (you can hire consultants in ABA therapy or RDI and do the consultations via skype, so it doesn't really matter where you live). With directions, you can do the therapy yourself or hire a junior therapist to help you if you can't find the time to do enough therapy. I tried to do therapy myself without directions and even if I'm a teacher, I felt I needed some help to be really efficient (even if mild, autism is a big disability). My son is now going to a therapy centre part time and I'm doing the rest. The progress is unbelievable.
    After a year or two of intensive therapy, your son will probably be able to go back to school if you choose to.

    God Bless

  3. Hi! "Years homeschooling without a break" does sound scary! What if you:
    1. Plan carefully so that you have regular rest & recreation for your own soul & body. It's possible to have this even if you homeschool!
    2. Look at homeschooling not as a life sentence, but rather something that you could commit to for one year, and reevaluate at the end of the year. What works for a family one year may not be what works every year.
    And of course pray for God's mercy and discernment.
    Best wishes to you!

  4. Thanks for your response Holly. It has really spoken to me. I am really fearful and I can see how this is blinding me. I am also listening to other people all the time instead of keeping my eye on the prize!

    I guess I already feel very isolated during the day at the moment and I want to get out and about with people and doing stuff. Like you say, there are also homeschooling groups and support groups that would give me input and this might just be God's way of giving me the contact I need! I think I really need to have to buckle down and sort a rule. I am always going from fire to fire in our house with preschoolers and older children. It is really chaotic as the environment and activities are not organized. The kids rip the house apart. I was thinking about the first part of your book and I can relate a bit to that. Sitting in the lounge, washing everywhere, toddlers bored and crying! I just feel so tired all the time, hopeless, and extremely uptight. I just want to rest, and everytime I think I can get something done I am "interrupted" which makes me want to give up. A lot of these problems would resolve with a rule as explained in your book and looking at my health some more.

    Am still feeling overwhelmed about how to start homeschool and where to go for curriculum stuff.

    Thanks so much! I have really been encouraged! I will really need this strength especially since I know that I will come up against a lot of negativity for homeschooling from Catholic friends (who think it is too much for me) and some of my family.

  5. You know, I think from this, that your first step is bringing order to your daily home schedule - with the little ones and with your housework and your personal prayer life. Homeschooling can come after that.

    You can do it, because God does not call us to the impossible, but provides the means - natural and supernatural - for us to accomplish things.

    It is important to look at the 5 Ps - the "priorities" - and start from there. There will be no peace until you do. Work on the planned activities and resources to have your children in a daily routine, work out a basic housework plan, and put away all the clutter for now that discourages you. Get your prayer in... every day... faithfully.

    Then, in a couple of months - start researching homeschooling - keep in touch - many people can assist. But your key balance will come from your orderly home and prayer life. This will have to be a constant all through everything.

  6. Hi,
    My son has high functioning autism, is ten years old, and was the same as your son. Anxiety was so powerful he could not learn in the school environment. I have been homeschooling him now for three years. I encourage you to look around for homeschool groups, but we did not have a lot of luck. Due to lack of social skills, he was unable to make friends just seeing kids a couple times a month. We have had great success with cubscouts. Dad is always with him, they meet every week, and also do other outings, plus they learn a lot of great stuff that can supplement your homeschooling. I have not found one curriculum that meets all his needs, but Rod and Staff math and grammar are basic and thorough. It is not a Catholic curriculum, but Christian. We supplement with other catholic materials. It is not easy. We struggle. It can be lonely because others don't understand, but God does, and that is where we need to go for strength.