Autism’s sibling, journal 2, part 1

Back in the late 1980’s, I was homeschooled for 3 years from 8th through 10th grade. This is a time of my life that I never talk about. There is a gap when I talk about middle school and high school. I don’t fill it in. It was a time of great isolation and introspection. As an introvert, I really didn’t mind. It was just difficult explaining the reason that I was homeschooled.

My autistic brother Matt’s behavior was so violent that they no longer allowed him in school. Instead the school sent a retired school teacher out to the house. He was likely to physically attack someone that tried to force him to learn. It took the patience of a saint to handle that job. Since my mom had to majorly cut back her hours at work, she decided to take my younger brothers out of school and homeschool them as well. My mom gave me a choice because I was older. But I didn’t really feel like I had much of a choice. 

In the late 80’s, a vast majority of the few people that were homeschooling were doing it for religious reasons. My mom joined a group of these women. The kids were all a lot younger than me. My mom signed me up for an accredited correspondence school. When two of my friend’s moms heard that I was leaving school, they dragged their kids out of school for a few months as well.

My friend’s mom cited religious persecution as the reason for pulling her youngest two children out of school. But I never thought that was true. To be honest with you, the kids were just strange. Yes, my friend’s older sister read the Bible over lunch period at school. But she was also the girl that I often saw standing in front of the class room blowing her nose loudly. Then she would stand in front of the class while the teacher was talking and pick her nose for another 10 minutes. It also didn’t help that she had red hair, acne, was overweight, had coke bottle glasses that made her eyes look like pins, and had an obsession with math. Her younger brother had similar social issues. The kids on the school bus took a scissors and cut the shirt off of his back. That was because every time someone said gosh or heck, he told them that they were going to hell. My friend, however, was relatively normal compared to her siblings. 

One time while I was staying at her house, someone drove by at night and threw a bottle through their front window. It is unfortunate how mean kids can be to someone that doesn’t fit in. I felt a little sorry for them yet at the same time felt embarrassed to associate with them. Even though Matt was teased a lot, he didn’t seem to realize it as much as my brothers and I did. My friend and I had having outcast siblings in common. Who knows, maybe they were on the spectrum too.

During this time, my mom spent a lot of time with her new friends. We went to Bible study all the time. When I wasn’t with my friend, she was at church or meetings at someones house which was basically church. We even went to church camp together for two summers. We had to wear pants at all times and weren’t allowed to swim. I had the opportunity to visit my friend while we were in Texas last year. I asked her if she still went to church. She said that she didn’t because she spent enough time there as a child to last her a whole lifetime. 

In the home bound years, my mom actively sought support from her new friends by taking an interest in their church groups. We even were able to be involved with the Amish community. I had the opportunity to go to an Amish wedding. How many people can say that they have done that? I think that at one time my mom was ready to leave the Lutheran church. She probably would have if it wasn’t for Aunt Grace. 

Then something happened to bring it all to a crashing halt.

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