Whenever fall (September) arrives, I am always filled with apprehension, as I have taken the responsibility to homeschool my son with autism.

 

It is a scary thought and a daunting enterprise even after having designed a comprehensive program beforehand for the new school year, building upon the experience of the previous school year.

 

The designed program might or might not work… I will have to re-do the program or I can make an ongoing change following my son’s lead …

 

I remember one year when D started decoding words and then understanding what he was reading, motivated me to create his own library of books that he would enjoy reading because he would understand them.

 

And so I started drawing illustrated books with characters that were inspired from his daily life, at school, in the community, as well as himself. Although it took some years before he started to identify himself with his character in the books, this gave me hope that autism is reversible.

 

Over time the illustrated books evolved into comic books. Every single instance of his life is materialized in comic books and we started hearing him recalling events. He would generally start off by saying “ Mommy, I was playing at recess with O” … then “she gave me her toy”; he was 9 at the time. His use of tenses and full sentences thrilled me and encouraged me to continue designing these teaching books.

 

The books’ language is carefully tailored to his level of understanding and the opportunity to incorporate other dimensions.

 

A platform to transition from a concrete to an abstract situation so as to encourage reasoning and deduction, we add “perspective” as in point of view, “geographical” direction and location, and we challenge the use of words such as “meanwhile,” “early morning” that inference to a concrete time telling, involving previous experiences and personal judgment.

 

So each fall brings with it fear but also the creativity to address my son’s education challenges.

 

Evaluating my son’s knowledge on a daily basis, at times at a minute level like when he would throw a word loaded with meaning, affords me the possibility to look for the next idea.

 

I use all these teaching opportunities to push further understanding and interpretation of his environment, so that we achieve one breakthrough after another…