Over the course of the past few months, I have received so many messages from y’all.
I LOVE them.
I LOVE being able to connect with actual people.
I LOVE that you even care enough to comment, email and IM me.
Thank you so, so much!
In the interest of reaching out to the introverts (like myself), who might have the same questions but would feel tired just thinking about having to comment or send a message (again, like myself), I thought I would share the questions I am most frequently asked, and my responses.
1. Why don’t you ever reference dads? You speak to mommas a lot, but there are a lot of dads out there with kids on the spectrum too.
I love that we have dads here and engaged on the site! In fact, one of my favorite guest posts came from a dad with a child on the spectrum. I write specifically to and for mommas for one simple reason. I am one. The only thing I feel remotely qualified to write about is my own experience. While I think dads might be able to relate, I would never want to assume that I know what it feels like to be a dad. I don’t. I do think more men should write about the experience of fatherhood in general, and a spectrum diagnosis in particular, but that is certainly not my strong suit.
2. How did you and Mick meet?
Boy is this a long story! One day, I may do an entire post devoted to it. The short answer is, we met for the first time in fourth grade. We went through elementary and high school together, and then didn’t have any contact at all until 17 years later. We reconnected, and then one trip to Disneyland with the boys later, and we were all in love. God gives good gifts, y’all.
3. How do you find the time to blog?
Good question. The honest answer is I have no idea. Sometimes I get up super early. Sometimes my husband handles all the house stuff so I can stay in the writing groove. Sometimes a sweet friend watches the boys for a few hours so I can go to the coffee shop and actually think. Sometimes the boys are playing games on the iPad while I frantically type. (This explains why grammar is often questionable here on Not The Former Things. I can barely get the thoughts out, much less edit them without eight million interruptions!)
I have struggled, as the blog has grown (and the demands of my family have as well) to figure out a routine that is consistent. The good news is that God keeps showing me little snippets of time that I can use for this purpose.
4. My family doesn’t homeschool. What do you think about public and private school?
We choose to homeschool because it is seems to be the best choice for our boys. I am perfectly comfortable with public school being the right choice for your family, or private school being your jam. I am not the homeschooler that thinks homeschooling is superior in every way. Not even a little. In fact of you have read any of my posts on homeschooling, you know that I used to make fun of homeschoolers (true story).
That being said, I do think homeschooling can be a very good option, particularly for kids with special learning needs. I write about our homeschooling life because #1 it is a huge part of how we spend our time, and #2 I want you to know that this is a viable choice. When my youngest son was diagnosed with his processing delay and profound dyslexia, I was told he would need to be in a public school ASAP, to get the services he needs. It was a huge amount of pressure, especially because I saw the success we were having at home – being able to slow things down and work one on one. I am grateful that we got some additional opinions, and used outside resources to help in that time frame.
I know many of you do not homeschool. In fact, my posts about homeschooling are the least read, least commented on, least productive posts on the blog. I keep writing about it because I think it is an important part of how we live our lives around here. It gives you the full picture of who I am, and who we are. Nothing more and nothing less.
5. Do you really believe that autism is a gift? (or another variation – Would you change it for your son if you could?)
This is a loaded question, and one that is difficult to answer. I try to share the good and the bad in every post for a reason. I think this is the nature of life, and more specifically, the nature of an autism spectrum diagnosis.
I believe that autism is absolutely a part of how my son is made. I believe that God does not make mistakes and has a plan for all of us – including my son. In that respect, autism is a gift. It is also a gift in that my son is so flippin’ smart. my brain hurts trying to keep up with him. There are many aspects of autism that I would qualify as a gift.
More importantly, I believe that it is not up to me to pick and choose what I like and what I don’t like.
What I would not say is a gift, and what I would change all day long, are the sensory issues and anxiety my son experiences. These are a part of autism too – again, we take the good with the bad, even when it is so tough seeing your child suffer.
Many adults with autism say they would never choose to change it. Autism is a part of what makes them their unique selves. I think my son would agree. I think that means that this question is always more about me as his mom, than it is about him. He is fine. I am the one that needs to get on board, and let go of how I thought life would be for him.
So, that’s that.
As I said before, thank you for caring enough to ask. Thank you for being here. Thank you for living this life alongside us (even if it is virtually).
I am honored and so very grateful to have this opportunity.
With so much love and respect,
Have more questions??? Leave them in a comment below, on Facebook, or in a private message.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.