Our Journey to Homeschooling

I am the mother of a beautiful 8-year-old little girl. She is bright, funny, intelligent, and an absolute joy to be around. It’s just her and me on our journey through life together, and she has been my true blessing. I look at her, my “Princess” and thank our wonderful Lord for this precious gift he has given me.

“Princess” was your average baby; she hit her milestones fairly on time, and had no real issues that I can recall. It wasn’t until she was about 4 that I started to notice certain little quirks.

The most prominent problem was she began to fear any sort of noise. Toilets flushing, vacuuming, loud voices, things that were a normal part of everyday life became an extreme source of fear for her. Things got so bad with the noise that she had to wear large earmuffs around the house in order for me to do my vacuuming. If we were out and happened to go into a bathroom with automatic toilets, she would automatically run the other way without even trying to use them. Her preschool teacher even mentioned to me some breakdowns in the class when the noise level got a bit too high.

I began to research her problems and kept coming to the same result: Sensory Processing Disorder. To average people, our bodies are able to regulate and process sensory stimuli easily. To someone with SPD, their bodies cannot process the sensory stimuli correctly. The more I read on the topic, the more convinced I became that this was when we were dealing with. Princess went when she was 5 years old to be evaluated for SPD by an occupational therapist. My suspicions about the noise were confirmed, but I also learned so much more.

Princess is auditory-defensive. She is super sensitive to sounds and can easily go into meltdowns if she is around bothersome noises. She is also tactile-defensive. She hates to get her hands sticky or dirty. The slightest bit of stickiness is so uncomfortable for her and sends her running to the sink. Princess has marked small-motor and fine-motor skills. Writing and cutting skills are delayed because of this. She also had other problems such as poor body awareness, and delays in her tummy muscles. Princess was started on regular occupational therapy appointments to address these problems, and things got better for a while.

She did well in kindergarten. There were only 6 kids in her class, and 2 teachers. Her teacher was so fantastic! She was totally understanding of Princess’s problems and accommodated her very well. As we were nearing first grade, I was beginning to get concerned with Princess having to transition from her half-day little class, to all day school with a lot more kids in the class and a lot more noise. I asked her school about getting her some occupational therapy at school and was told she would need to be tested academically before they would give her therapy in school. Princess was tested, and since she tested academically proficient, I was told by her school that they could not help her.

First grade rolled around, and as I feared, Princess was a wreck. She would come home in tears about the noise and tell me she hated school and that it was way too noisy for her. Everyday was a battle for her, and each day she would get worse. She was extremely exhausted from dealing with school. I can remember dropping her off at school in the mornings. All the children would meet on the playground in the mornings before school started. Instead of joining in and playing, she clung to me sobbing hysterically. I questioned her teacher, and was told again, that she was keeping up with the schoolwork, so she was fine, no problems at all.

I prayed about what to do about my little girl. It was killing me to see her so miserable. I started thinking about homeschooling and praying about it. Could I really do it? Was this the right choice? I began to research it, and started to become more convinced that this was what we needed to do. I felt like this was what God was leading us to; it was just a matter of withdrawing her from public school and beginning.

Starting was scary! I had no idea what to do or what curriculum to order. I talked with people, met other homeschoolers, and slowly began to realize, Hey, I can do this.

Princess and I are now in our third year of homeschooling. Since being at home, her auditory defensiveness is nowhere near as much as a problem as it was. If she is around something that bothers her, she has learned to regulate herself by going into another room for a couple minutes, or simply telling me that she’s had enough. Her stress level has gone way down, and she is thriving academically.

Recently, Princess was diagnosed with a mild case of Attention Deficit Disorder. It has been ok though, because like her SPD, Princess has learned to deal with her inattention too. If she has to sit for an extended period of time, she’ll grab her fidget toys to help get her through. I also break her work down into short increments and then give her breaks in between so she can get up and release some of that energy.

I will never regret my decision to homeschool my daughter. Although she has Sensory Processing Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder, I know the decision to bring her home was the right one. She has learned how special God has made her, and has learned how she can help herself cope with her problems.

Princess loves reading anything she can get her hands on. She is interested in animals, learning about the Great Depression, and loves Laura Ingalls Wilder. Besides reading, her favorite subject is math.

Colleen Sherlock is a homeschooling mom of an 8 year old daughter with some special needs. She lives in New Hampshire with her daughter and they are currently in their third year of homeschooling. Colleen enjoys reading, spending time with the Lord, and blogging. You can find her blog at Sparkly Things and Fairy Wings.

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