Homeschooling Finished!

I am beyond excited to be writing this post after more than a year of “pandemic homeschooling”. I am done! And I don’t mean I have packed it in, given up and thrown my toys out of the sandpit.

We have settled in New Zealand after 5 months of visiting friends and family, road tripping, house sitting, Air Bnbing, walking, so much walking to discover new parks and new places. Settling in means we have been able to find a home and a school for Sol and that is a big moment for us all. It’s a segue to the next part of Sol’s life – from isolation to integration as he is a year older from the last time he physically stepped into a school.

Coming from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where Sol was born and spent 8 years of his life, it was always our dream that we would be able to bring him back to New Zealand to make the most of the outdoors lifestyle, connect and build relationships with his family and learn about his culture. Sol is half-Maori and doesn’t speak one word of Te Reo (the indigenous language of Maori in New Zealand).

But that’s all about to change as Sol is enrolled in a bi-lingual primary school, 2 blocks by scooter from our home one block from the beach.

As Sol’s homeschool teacher, here are the things I learnt about the way Sol learns. These things have helped me communicate to his Learning Support Co-ordinator at his new school.

  • Sol is an auditory learner. He will look up to the ceiling while I am explaining a new concept. It looks like he isn’t paying attention but Sol is “imagining” what I am telling him – forming a picture in his head. In the classroom, this may look like Sol is distracted or not paying attention – not necessarily so!
  • Maths is hard. Some people find Maths easy and others find it hard. Sol is in Camp 2 but he also doesn’t enjoy it. I am taking full responsibility and assuming it is my teaching skills (a little on the militant side). The irony is that he has no issue with handling his pocket money and knowing how much something costs and how much change he should be receiving. I am hoping that Sol’s new teacher has the tools and motivation to help Sol start to enjoy the subject, even a little.
  • Sol struggles to write, physically write. The process of holding the pencil and scribing the letters to the page are difficult. This is a thing with dyspraxia. The past 3 months, as Sol’s “writing” projects became lengthier, I switched it up and had him type on his laptop. He thoroughly enjoyed this and his attention to typing increased immensely.
  • Sol has read 80 books – prescribed readers for 7-8 year olds. He set a goal to read 100 books by June 18th and we may still get there yet! This is Sol’s greatest success. If you can read, you can dive into other worlds, learn and understand new things and build on your imagination and the possibilities that life offers.
  • Sol’s language comprehension has always been good. He can incorporate new and difficult words into conversation and he understands what is going on around him. He can pick up on emotions in conversation and has a high level of empathy. Because he still has some challenges with his speech (organisational processing meets co-ordination of the mouth), Sol has to think really hard about pulling all the words he wants to say together. Once again, he looks up at the ceiling as if to see the script which can make it seem that he doesn’t want to make any eye contact. He is desperately trying to get all the words out of his mouth that are in his head.
  • Sol’s imagination is off the chain. This may have been exasperated with the inability to socialise and play with other kids during lockdown in Malaysia and then moments where we aren’t with family or friends in New Zealand. Sol can still play for hours by himself and is often making up stories and acting them out. This is one of the most entertaining parts of hanging out with Sol every day.
  • Physically, dyspraxia hasn’t really stopped him at all. One of the definite upsides of being back in NZ and through the summer, was access to some amazing playgrounds. A kids playground is a FREE physical therapy session. Watching Sol scale ladders and navigate his way around the adventure of the playground has been awesome. He has to use his body multi-laterally, balance, climb, jump – all activities we used to pay for in a soft padded room LOL.
  • Sol is healthier. In lockdown in NZ, probably due to “snacking” and no physical activity, Sol put on a little weight. Not enough to be concerned about but it was obvious to us and being in the fitness and health industry and knowing the stats on children and obesity, we know that kids need to move frequently. 6 weeks into life in NZ and Sol has shed that weight, grown taller, stronger and faster. He is excited to be joining karate classes and will be trying surf lifesaving in the summer. As Sol has always been a competent swimmer, putting those skills and his strength to use with lifesaving will be another great opportunity for him.

So now, my biggest concern is socialisation. After a short visit to Sol’s new classroom at Arataki School, Mount Maunganui, I can see that the class environment is very relaxed, diverse and inclusive. The kids seemed really happy, confident and kind. They enveloped Sol into their activities and he seemed more comfortable.

Time will tell and I am always hoping to be able to share good news. The dyspraxia journey is constantly shifting and it’s important that I continue to share what is happening so that other families of neurodiverse kids can relate and feel supported too.

Pandemic Homeschooling

Here it is! The mother of all homeschooling experiences. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that we were homeschooling Sol for his Pre School year before he started at EtonHouse Malaysia. We committed to a one-to-one home based learning program that allowed him to be creative, work at his own pace and make all the special needs sessions – physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and vision therapy. This was balanced with swimming lessons, capoeira and play dates.

But now we are forced to homeschool when we would like nothing better than to have Sol back in the classroom with his friends and working on his social skills while learning and interacting with his peers, like any 7 year old boy should. So maybe this post isn’t so “exclusive” to parents of kids with special education needs now! LOL.

As parents, we are all forced into sharing iPads and laptops with our kids as they TRY to learn through the screens. And it truly sucks. Let me hear you say it – I HATE COVID-19!!!!!!!

Sol says “I hate this virus” at least once/day. He is very aware that the virus has stopped his ability to leave the condo compound to walk to school, walk to his friends house, go to a park (this one breaks my heart), swim in the condo pool and all the beautiful interactions we fondly remember.

Most weeks I have a call or interaction with another parent who has cried because of homeschooling. I’ve cried too but there have been some blessings. I’m going to outline them here.

Just for the record, I am a working parent who is now homeschooling 5 hours/day BEFORE commencing my work from home. That means my day is front of a screen runs from 8.30am – 9.30pm Monday – Friday. On Fridays, we skip school…….for sanity.


  1. Sol is smart. He has fantastic comprehension and a good understanding of the world. He’s great with expressing his view and uses language expressively and occasionally beyond his years. BUT not in a group environment when lots of people are talking and there are too many distractions. Like when nobody mutes their call and all the kids are talking at once, with lots of background noise.
  2. When we join group lessons, Sol is easily distracted by the noise. He has managed to refocus to get the work done but not without me sitting right by his side and keeping him on task. I mute his microphone and bribe him with ROBLOX if he can finish his class work. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!
  3. He needs to switch off the iPad around 30 minutes into the group sessions so that we can do the work alone. This is where Sol gets his most productive time. I can assign him 2-3 pages of Math to finish alone and he will do it without me next to him. He doesn’t need my help or support and he understands the work.
  4. We are focused on the basics – Math, Language Arts and Reading. We skip Physical Education, Visual Arts and sometimes Performing Arts – here’s why….
  5. We bought a basketball hoop for Sol and set it up in a common area at our condo. This is so all the kids can use it. When Sol went back to school this year (for the 8 weeks it was open), he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to join the Basketball after school sessions as the schools weren’t allowed to offer any sports. He kept talking about it and asking us to get him a basketball. So we did. And the hoop. And here he is.
Shooting hoops

6. A neighbour bought a trampoline and installed it in the basement carpark. BEST ACTIVITY EVER. If you know anything about sensory processing disorders, you’ll know that bouncing on a trampoline is one of the best regulators for the body and brain and assists with learning. Sol is on that thing up to 3 hours/day! Yeah, so we don’t join the PE classes.

Bouncing the crazies out

7. Sol loves art – drawing, colouring, building. He spends hours on this too so, yeah, no Visual Arts.

8. Performing Arts – we have a little entertainer in our midst so enough said. Dance, acting, YouTube videos – we have a full on entertainment network in that little guy.

As a family, we have never been closer. This would be the BIGGEST upside of a forced lockdown for as long as we have had. Through this, Sol always has someone to talk to, hug, play with, hang out with. And we are better for it too. We are working in our office and our kids are nearby. We have had numerous dinners together and family discussions and if we get ONE thing out of this year, it’s that SOL knows how deeply he is loved, how integral he is to our family unit and that he will always have us to advocate for him. I understand HOW Sol learns and I can communicate this to his teachers and help them give Sol the best educational experience too. Once school is back in person…..


So, if you haven’t heard of the term “spaz-attack” before, it was a term we used as kids to describe someone who’s body movements were comical or “off centre”. This mainly referred to a situation where kids were playing team sports and there was always that one kid who just could not catch the ball, pass the ball, hit the ball or run where they were supposed to. Or even that kid that couldn’t run 100 metres without tripping over, frequently at the entertainment of everyone watching.

Before the medical term “dyspraxia”, Sol’s condition was known as “Clumsy Child Syndrome”. Just let that sink in…..So much negative connotation with that but also, not enough information on all the ways dyspraxia can affect an individual. One of the best short YouTube videos I found early on that helped to describe Sol’s challenges to teachers, sports coaches and specialists that would be working with him, was this: What is Dyspraxia?

There were usually TWO kinds of outcomes for the kids that lived this every day.   1)  the kid that started to shrink away from physical activity that would expose their incompetence to preserve any shred of self esteem they had left 2)  that kid that relished in the attention and was able to turn their frequent faux pas into a comic show. I feel like Sol hovers between the two right now.

When Sol was 6 weeks old, we started him swimming.

After an early diagnosis for Delayed Visual Maturation, we learnt that swimming would be particularly beneficial for his brain development and physical co-ordination. This has been an activity that Sol continues to this day. Sol has had some really great swim coaches who provide him with the empathy and guidance that he needs to become a competent swimmer but more importantly, retain self confidence which is vital when living with a diagnosed challenge.

I will admit, I find it tough to accept that Sol isn’t playing football or rugby with his age group peers right now. Granted we are in 2020 (sounds like COVID-19) and there are no organised kids sports running, he isn’t missing out. Sol did play after school football last year and really enjoyed it but I could see he would get frustrated when he missed the ball or wasn’t sure where he needed to be on the field. His coaches were so great and inclusive that Sol would show up every week without a grumble, so I knew that despite his co-ordination and spatial challenges, he felt good about being there.

Right now, Sol is BIG on basketball. And, I gotta say, he’s pretty good. IF and WHEN we can get him on a basketball court, this might be the sport for him! We have been challenging him to bounce 100 bounces while counting to 100 – this helps with his focus, co-ordination AND math. Multi-tasking is a really hard thing to do for someone with dyspraxia but he can do it!

One of the most well known sports personalities that has been diagnosed with dyspraxia is Ellis Genge who played rugby for the England Rugby Team. You can tell from the video that not being diagnosed at an early age affected how he felt about himself but in the end, sport saved him: Ellis Genge Rugby Player.

AND I can’t wrap up this post without giving a HUGE shout out to our friends Marissa and Rafael who run Movimento Capoeira Academy for gifting Sol the the joy of movement, martial arts, music and friends to hang out with. You guys are the BEST!]

Continue reading “Spaz-Attack!”

Year Two – Sol’s at School!

It’s been some time since my last blog post. Sol is now 7 years old and started at EtonHouse Malaysia International School in August 2019. So he has had one full year (including lockdown online learning) away from homeschooling. This school runs from kindergarten up to Year 6. It’s a small school with a concerted focus on inclusivity, even if they don’t have all the fanciest resources compared to other International Schools in Malaysia.

We based Sol’s success in school being a) how enthusiastic he was to go everyday b) the level of communication that was given to us in relation to Sol in the classroom c) what individual support was offered to Sol and d) did Sol make any friends?

And we are happy to say that we have a resounding YES to all those questions.

Sol started in a Year One classroom even though he had completed a Year One program at home. We discussed with the school that we felt a successful start for Sol would be where he felt comfortable with the learning and that if the need arose, we would move him on to Year Two after 6 months. Sol’s Homeroom teacher and Assistant teacher were both amazing with Sol – so loving, caring and fun. This made going to school every day a non-issue. Sol knew that he was cared for in the classroom.

Sol’s teachers and the Inclusive Team held meetings with us to discuss Sol’s progress and goals. They asked us what goals we felt were important for Sol and we believe that Sol’s social progress should be a priority. Sol still struggles somewhat to translate facial expressions, vocal tone and body language in other children. This sometimes causes him to become more sensitive to a situation that is probably NO BIG DEAL or read the wrong cues and respond in a way that seems “off topic”. Sol does realise when he has messed up and attempts to fix the situation and this can occasionally make it even worse! You’ve seen the comedies where the comedian is trying to gain the attention of the love-interest and goes from bad to worse – that can be Sol too!

The individual support that Sol was able to access at school academically, was to swap his Mandarin classroom hours with extra literacy hours – this was GOLD! We saw Sol’s reading progress really well with this support. Granted we also spend time with him at home reading (and now it’s everyday), the fact the school was so flexible to his needs, without adding extra hours to his school day was appreciated.

As the school has such a strong inclusivity policy, this meant Sol was able to make friends in the classroom and maintain those friendships outside of the classroom. He still has a standing playdate with one of his buddies that has since left EHM. Sol is now in Year 2 and while he doesn’t yet have his one special buddy, he talks positively about a lot of the kids in his class and gets on with most of them.

School is a bit different under Restricted Movement Order – no outdoor play/recess and very structured movement around the school but it’s a relief to know that Sol is back in school, safe, learning and happy. Long may it last! Not the lockdown part of course……..


HELLO! I’m a human

While this blog focuses on Sol and his superpower, dyspraxia, there are events and interactions in Sol’s daily life that also make me think about what it means to be human on a wider scale.

After a wonderful month in Bali, resting and connecting with my kids for their summer break, I observed the following scenario multiple times.

SOL to fellow human of indiscriminate age: “Hello!”

Fellow Human to Sol: …………………….. (that’s silence, as in no response – no hello, no hi, just a stare)

SOL: “Hello!”

Fellow Human turns away.

I’ve paused from writing here for a moment to collect my emotions on what I’ve just written because despite the fact this was a few weeks back, thinking about it leaves me with a mash up of feeling. And my key questions are:

When did we stop saying HELLO to one another?

If another stranger (child or adult) said HELLO to you, do you say HELLO back?

Are your initial thoughts “That’s weird! A complete stranger just said HELLO to me?

So in the context of Sol’s dyspraxia, he hasn’t mastered “reading” human emotions or body language or “learnt” to be shy and not to interact with strangers. (Note to self, need to talk to him about “stranger danger”). He completely understands when someone is displeased or angry and seems to experience strong emotion from this. The paradox of a highly sensitive child who struggles to master the social “norms”.

Sol will enter an environment and assume that everyone is good and they are waiting to see him/play with him. He will walk up to any child and say “Hello!”, not “Hi!, a confident boisterous “Hello!”. Nine out of ten children from the age of 5 years and above will ignore Sol or walk away. And the one child that responds positively ends up playing with him for hours. Eight out of ten adults will also not respond to Sol’s greeting.

When did we stop saying “Hello”? I only have my personal thoughts on this and I’m assuming that there is a certain level of inappropriateness to starting up a conversation with a complete stranger. So here is when I think I might not say “Hello” to another human:

  • Walking in a dark alley and man approaches me.
  • Sitting in a bar waiting for my friend and man sits next to me.
  • Standing in the mosh pit at a concert with sweaty humans pushed up against me.

In the interests of actually finishing this blog post, I have to move on as I found it really hard to think of anymore, but if you know of some examples, please leave comments!

Here are some examples of me initiating conversation with strangers EVERY DAY

  • Every time I teach a fitness class, I will walk up to the new person in the class and say “Hello”.
  • I say Hello to every service person – cafe, petrol pump human, receptionist, immigration officer – everyone.

Instead of blaming Sol’s friendliness on his inability to conform with social norms, I’m going to blame it on genetics – he got it from me! And I also don’t care when fellow humans don’t respond back. I don’t start thinking “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t they like me?”. I carry on with my day, as happy as Larry – yeah, who is Larry anyway?

And I search Sol’s face to see if he is sad or hurt by the lack of response and NOPE, he moves on! Searching out the next human that will connect with him and inevitably end up having a great conversation or some decent adventure in the playground.

To give more transparency to how dyspraxia DOES in fact affect social interaction within what we consider normal, here are the examples:

  • Dislikes playing sports with other kids. Dyspraxia is primarily a motor co-ordination issue and therefore physical activity and coordinating the body to learn new skills is more challenging for people with dyspraxia. Sol has been very active and in physical therapy since he was a baby so he’s doing pretty well here and right now, he doesn’t shy away from sports with kids.
  • Struggle to pay attention to the point of being diagnosed with ADHD. Dyspraxia affects “processing” – ordering your thoughts. This affects someone with dyspraxia when they need to remember the order of events or tasks. This can be managed by making lists, notes and lots of preparation.
  • Difficult to understand – as dyspraxia affects the coordination of the mouth, words sometimes sound muffled or unclear. For children, this sets them up for ridicule as they “sound” different. Sol has had speech therapy for 4 years and while his pronunciation can occasionally be challenged, he’s doing pretty well. Volume and pitch can also be affected.
  • Seems immature – children with dyspraxia tend to lag behind on developing appropriate social “norms” (I fucking hate that word now). But it all works out in the wash. Either they become more normal……..or they go on to be the next Harry Potter!
  • Is often anxious – as they need to make more decisions, this can raise their levels of anxiety. I’m not seeing this in Sol at all and I believe this might be in part to having him home schooled for a year.
  • Dyspraxia is NOT an intellectual disability.

I appreciate that the world has Extroverts and Introverts and that I have a higher chance of a naturally Extroverted person responding than an Introverted person. I can accept this. But I had noticed that more and more, we are using our phones to “hide” and therefore shut down any chance of connecting with another human. While we are “connected”, we are not. While I’m connected to searching for the latest trend on Spanx on my handheld device, I’m disconnected from the humans sitting across from me, walking past me, from making any eye contact, from starting a conversation, from potentially having a life changing moment with another human.

So my challenge to you, in the interests of connecting with another human that you don’t already know, is to say “Hello” to a complete random stranger. I recommend that you smile at the same time so they know it’s them you are greeting. The world needs more “HELLO” givers. Truly!

Screentime – the iPad debate

OK, it’s been a good 6 months between blog posts and a lot has happened – 90% good. Sol is thriving in his learning. I don’t have any quantitative comparisons with other 6 year old boys on “how much” Sol is thriving but I do know this:

  • He asks when Ms Rachel is coming every day – Rachel is Sol’s homeschool tutor and an angel sent from heaven. I now have a daily visual of what an angel looks like.
  • He can sit and focus on ONE task for 20-30 mins. Granted that the average concentration span for an adult is 20mins, I think he might be killing it.
  • He can read and spell – the words are simple and the spelling is sometimes wrong but the understanding is strong.
  • With dyspraxia, it’s really hard to hold a pencil and write in a straight line – Sol is persistent and doesn’t give up. When he has to write about Lego, he will not stop until he has finished.
  • He understands basic addition – if I have 3 Power Rangers and I buy 2 more Power Rangers, how many are there? Sol says “You’re a damn lucky kid cos you’ve got the whole set! There are 5!” I actually asked him that cos I didn’t know myself.
  • He might sit up in his room for 30mins reading to himself on his bed. He’s not really reading the hard words but I know the idea of reading a story to himself shows me that he is developing a love for books, stories and words. That’s cool cos I adore the written word.
  • He’s obsessed with science and experiments. He asks a lot of questions around “How, What, Why, When?” – this shows a massive curiosity for the world around him.
  • He’s an amazing artist – this is the the coolest thing as I remember Sol’s sister at 6 years old being obsessed with dance. I knew that was going to be one of her gifts/talents and that she needed to have dance in her life. She’s still dancing. Sol will draw or paint for up to 2 hours a day. I kid you not. He will look at a picture and try to copy it over and over until it’s as good as he can get it. His effort and passion are what makes me so proud of him – not the outcome. These character qualities show that when he puts his mind to something, he will be successful. We know we need to get him an art teacher – on the “to do” list.

So what I have learnt from Sol over the past 6 months – he is a right brain, highly creative, intuitive, funny, loving soul. He is a gift to this earth. Having him home schooled is the best decision for right now. I am still exploring alternative options and I am so lucky to have an incredibly supportive network of parents who share information constantly to keep us informed about positive changes in Malaysia for kids with SEN.

Right – onto the topic – my experiment. Actually, I can’t own this solely as the idea was a joint decision between Sol’s dad and I. We had both been researching the effects of screen time on the growing brain. This was more so for our daughter, a teenager, who we felt was being negatively affected by what she was seeing on her phone. Without going into details, we made some positive changes for the teen, set new boundaries and proceeded to move on to the 6-year old.

We decided that we would take away iPads and access to iPads and limit TV time to one hour around dinner time. I know! You’re scared right?? I mean – who does that? It’s digital suicide for your child – to NOT know how to play Minecraft or navigate their way around Kids YouTube and “accidentally” run into “Slappy” and “Bendy”. Now if you have even heard of those characters, you need a slap around the head if your kids are watching that shite. In short – here is what you need to know on these characters you can find on Kids YouTube – the channel where you think you have been able to protect your kids from seeing what cannot be unseen.

“Parents need to know that Bendy and the Ink Machine is a creepy adventure game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch. Played from the first-person perspective, gamers explore a run-down cartoon studio that’s more like the creepiest place on Earth than the happiest. Using axes, machine guns, and pipes, players have to fight off ink monsters, though killing them doesn’t result in any blood or gore, just spilled ink. There are also some violent cutscenes, including one that shows someone being skewered with a sword, and another in which a character has an axe embedded in their head. Disturbing images include things jumping out at you, a character strapped to a torture device, and what resembles a Satanic ritualCommonSenseMedia.Org

Slappy is a character from the movie “Goosebumps” – he’s a talking dummy – that’s creepy. When Sol thought it might be great to dress up as Slappy for Halloween, I thought “Nope – that’s not happening” and decided it was a good time to wean him off the iPad.

So, how painful was it? I like to think of it like a break up. The longer you are in it, the longer it might take. So thinking that Sol had only just turned 6 years old, we were thinking it might take around 6 weeks to deal with

  • tantrums
  • boredom
  • listlessness
  • anxiety
  • non-stop asking for the iPad to wear us all down

The last point is the one I had to psyche myself up for cos you know how we all roll! I have stuff to do! I work full time and sometimes from home and I need to use a laptop and if I’m on my laptop and he’s not in school, what the heck is he going to do? The million dollar question! What does a 6-year old do when they can’t watch TV or their iPad? And what about when you go to a restaurant? If he doesn’t have an iPad, what is he going to do? How am I going to get any peace and quiet? And if he doesn’t whip out his iPad when he’s with other kids that have them, is he going to be a social pariah? I’ll answer ALL of these questions now.

  1. Sol moaned for a week, JUST 7 DAYS. We stocked up on loads of paper, pens, paint, crayons, colouring books, water balloons, water toys, playdates! We hid the iPad and said it was broken. As I type this, I cannot tell you where his iPad is in the house. It’s gone! Guess what happened – he played, and played, and played some more. He has boxes upon boxes of Lego and it’s like he never played with it before – he kept building stuff, and making stuff, and creating stuff. And then when he was done with legos, he went on to drawing. He did some homework independently! And then he went off to one of his playdates, or activities.
  2. The restaurant thing – we take toys and colouring, like when I was a kid. Actually, when I was a kid, we never went to restaurants because they were “treats” that happened once every 2 months if that. So back to the crazy Nukus – We talk! And we laugh! And we have fun! And we eat properly and we chew the food! Crazy right??? And looking around the restaurant while I’m seated with my family and see that we may possibly be one of “those” families who don’t let their kids have devices at the dinner table – I’m like “haha! I know something about your kids brain that you might not!” OK, that’s probably going a bit far and the fact that I’m writing this means I want you to know about it too. Sharing is caring.
  3. And playdates with other kids who are using iPads? Sol will sit down and want to check out what they are watching and then he will get up and run away to play with THEIR toys cos he knows he won’t have to share them if they are otherwise engaged – so smart!

So, the future? I know that as school progresses, one of the best tools we can offer Sol is the ability to type. His writing will always be a challenge (from other dypraxia blogs I follow) and being able to type will allow him to keep up with the school work and meet deadlines for assignments. But that’s NOT right now. Right now, he is the happiest, little dude. The iPad sent him to a dark place, like switching off the light of creativity inside of him. The light is back on and we are going to let that human light shine, and not the dull pulsating white light of an iPad screen.

If you need the science to help you make a well-informed decision – click on the link

The effects of Screentime on a Child’s Brain

Homeschooling – so far….

I’ve just come home from a massage. Yes – the last time I came home from a massage to write my blog post “Forth Time Lucky” – that was full on – wine, tears and typing. So best be ready.

Sol has been homeschooled for 6 weeks now. I’m going to list the positives and the negatives to date:


  • Sol struggled to hold a pencil or pen properly to write. Granted he is just 5 years old but without consistent OT intervention, I wasn’t sure how this would improve in a school setting. At home, Sol has a slanted writing board where he can clip on paper. He has a seat with a non-slip cushion and a foot roller that allows him to regulate his sensory processing and this means he can comfortably FOCUS on trying to write with the correct pencil grip. He would probably NOT have this in a group classroom at school.

Sol can Write!

  • There are no distractions. Sol’s dyspraxia means that with lots of noise and movement, he is very easily distracted. He is not able to focus on multiple requests. He needs one request at a time. With NO distraction, Sol can execute what is asked of him. A recent social experiment – Sol and I were in a busy cafe and a good friend came up to say HI and ask Sol how he was doing. Despite the fact that Sol knows this person very well, he was not able to answer. Thirty minutes later, the cafe had cleared out somewhat and our friend came back to speak with Sol again, and then Sol commenced to communicate without distraction.
  • No distractions mean that Sol is picking up speed on areas that he was behind in when he was in a classroom setting. My concerns were that he was behind on reading and writing and in SIX WEEKS, I do not have those concerns anymore. Can I just say that this realisation is worth the anxiety of starting Sol in homeschooling. Sol is starting to read and understand sounds and language, as well as transfer this across to writing words and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
  • Sol can take “sensory breaks” as and when he needs it. There is overwhelming research and support  to show that young children cannot be expected to sit still for longer than 15 mins. Sol can easily do 15 mins or more at home but we make it part of his learning to take a break on the trampoline or some playtime outside and “recap” his lesson while he is moving. Just think about that a second – how many people do you know that use exercise or movement to help them work through an issue, problem or idea? I know I do it!
  • Sol is surrounded by teachers and specialists with his best interests in mind. We are able to curate a curriculum that puts Sol’s strengths and interests first. This means that he will not be learning anything that bores the shit out of him and things that he may not have been interested in before are now made interesting to him and in a way that he can understand and learn.
  • While I was initially hesitant that Sol would not be having school “everyday” like a neurotypical kid, this has turned out to be a blessing. Sol has 12 hours of lessons – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. This leaves Tuesdays and Thursdays to focus on his Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Swimming, Playdates and other activities. Sol also has Visual Therapy twice a week and this is quite intense (separate post coming). So in a nutshell, Sol’s FULL education is well balanced and we don’t have to try and fit in all his specialised sessions after school hours when he would be way too tired to get much out of them.
  • Sol is consistently praised and encouraged for his efforts. His self esteem and his willingness to learn remain as high as they ever were. On the days he doesn’t have Ms Rachel, he is often in his classroom, sitting at his desk, doing his “homework” as he likes to call it.
  • We use technology to compliment his learning. We have apps and programs that allow Sol to interact in a less formal way with lessons and keep him abreast of learning with technology. It is very likely that Sol will require a laptop if he re-enters the school system. At his age in a classroom setting, this would be unlikely. Once the schools catch up and realise that differently wired kids respond well to learning through technology, then we may consider going back. Sol will always struggle to write and it will take him longer and that is a part of his challenge – why make him suffer for it if he can get all his ideas down on a laptop from the get-go?

Learning through technology

  • While I work full-time, I have a certain amount of flexibility in my hours and destinations – I can pop in and see Sol at home! We might have lunch together or a mid-afternoon cuddle.
  • Sol doesn’t need a haircut now. If he was still at school, I think we’d need to keep his gorgeous curls contained. As he’s at home, we are going to let our little dude grow his amazing hair. Skater boy! Here we come.

There are probably a few more positives and as these present themselves, I can update in another blog.


I’m going to address the biggest one last as this is where my TRUE message for today lies.

  • Hang on, give me a second to think of one.
  • Got it! Nope, the one I was thinking about was that we didn’t get access to a school library anymore but then I remembered that my daughter is at an International School and as a parent, I can take books out of the library and so we do! In fact, Sol and I went there together and we can take out 10 books at a time. Sorted.
  • If I expand on the book-thing a little, I loved the association the schools have with the Scholastic Book Club order. And luckily my BFF can help me out with ordering books too.
  • Do I have access to materials for art, craft etc. HELL YES! Check this out! TWINKLS

So, our biggest “perceived” negative and the one I can see concerns MOST parents that ask me about Sol’s homeschooling experience is the “lack of socialisation”. Let me frame how this could have also been our biggest concern. While Sol was at pre-school, he had a ton of friends and an insane playdate schedule. Sol was loved by teachers and kids alike. He is a kind, funny, sweet kid and this draws people to him, particularly those that take the time to get to know him. Sol adores his buddies.

As the socialisation of kids Sol’s age continues in the school environment, I’ve noticed that Sol is not sure how to relate to the “style” of play of his friends. Words like “dumb, stupid, bad guy and you can’t play with us” are some of the things I have heard recently directed at Sol.  I went to an average school where bullying was common and “kids were kids”. I even had a bully who targeted me and to this day, I remember the feelings of anxiety of walking home after school thinking that my bully was going to attack me verbally and sometimes physically. We were taught to believe that we should just handle it and it would eventually go away and if it didn’t, then you arranged a “face off” with your bully and just fought it out. Which sounds horrifying when I think about either of my kids having to physically protect them selves from some asshole.

I have friends with kids at school who are being bullied or have been bullied. And this includes isolation.  While schools have implemented “anti-bullying” days and processes by which a kid can gain support if they feel they are targeted, it’s the “words” that are hurting our kids the most. In every class there is an “alpha male or female” who owns the power to grow or slay their classmates with a few choice words. And I don’t mean “choice” like us Kiwis use the word “choice” (meaning awesome, amazing). The alphas are the ones you want to be friends with because then, like the caveman days, you’ll be protected and you’ll ultimately survive. And school is like that. If you are alpha, popular, funny, good looking and smart in a neurotypical way, then you will survive and thrive the school system.

How does this pervasive caveman mentality continue year-on-year in our schools? When did I become “that mum” who advocates for the “underdog”? Do I want for my child to be subjected to that type of behaviour? HELL NO! Does this make me an over-protective parent. Well, probably, but let’s just dive a little into “what is over-protective”?

Knowing that my child has a learning challenge and will struggle in a noisy, busy environment and this will make him “stand out” as different and not “good-different” but set him up for ridicule and isolation – I choose to shelter him a little longer until he has his “witty, appropriate responses” to the ignorants that try to dim his light.

I believe that my choices for Sol will positively impact his world and the world at large. This kid is going to change lives because he will continue to be kind, sweet, empathetic, open minded and not isolated. The state of the world today indicates that we need more people like Sol. The greatest gift I can give Sol is to understand his gifts, his challenges, how his brain works and to not shy away from his uniqueness. I don’t need him to know as a 5-year old that he doesn’t “fit in” or that there is “something wrong”. I want for him to grow with confidence in who he is, own it, share it and not be judged in a negative way for it – just like every single parent I know.




Speak for those who cannot

Processed with MOLDIV

When I write a new blog post, I generally aim to share from our experience a challenge or difference related to Sol’s dyspraxia and then to finish on a positive word that reveals the hope I have for Sol’s future, despite the daily challenges. As the days go by and as I’m able to write and converse with others about dyspraxia, I’m becoming more bold and forthright in my role as Sol’s advocate. Sol started homeschool 4 weeks ago – thanks to everyone who has asked about Sol during this “experiment”. I can see the doubt in parents faces when they ask how everything is going. I get it! If I was not up to speed on Sol’s learning difference, he would be back in the classroom with his peers and I’m not sure he would have learnt the volume in the same focused way he is getting at home with Ms Rachel. When I’m able to share that Sol has accelerated past the lesson plan set by his online curriculum for his age, I get a surprised response.  I was also surprised at our last group meeting when Ms Rachel and Ms Aqila told me that they are able to blend and “double up” on the lesson plan for reading and writing as Sol is speeding up. Math – not so much but hey! He’s his mothers son – the right brain creative!

As Sol passes the 5.5 year mark, one of the areas that stands out as “needing work” is his speech. I’m going to break it down to be fair to Sol and paint a picture that simplifies one of the indicators of dyspraxia – speech apraxia.

After Sol’s MRI at 6 months old, we were informed by the neurologist to watch out for a delay in speech. This was an accurate warning and one that proved correct. Knowing this information actually decreased my stress levels around Sol hitting milestones with speech. I set my sights on the 2.5 year mark and if he wasn’t making strides in his verbal communication by then, I would seek help. And we did find the most fantastic speech pathologist in Dr. Cindy Lian.

Sol started weekly one-on-one speech sessions with Cindy and continued these for two years. Sol believed that he was going to “Aunty Cindy’s” to play with all her cool toys but like all amazing child educators and specialists, there was always a lesson plan that was masked in play. I saw a great improvement in Sol’s confidence and speech to the point where anyone would be able to understand 95% of conversation today. The other 5% is usually linked to a transformer character that you may not be familiar with – Optimus Prime, Megatron, Gridlock and Sideswipe. If you have never heard of these characters, you wouldn’t know what Sol is talking about and he will actually think that YOU have a problem with hearing!

Left field – Ronda Rousey (UFC Women’s Champion) has Speech Apraxia – read it here

The challenges we face today are linked to the following:

  • Organsational processing – where Sol might get distracted and jump from one topic to the next. This is obvious when he is answering my question, then stops as if he has thought of something else, pauses, then resumes to talk about another topic but often related. Actually, I know adults like this too – LOL.
  • Vocal pitch – Sol speaks in either a high pitch OR a loud register. This is dependent on his environment and who he is with. When he is one on one and there are no other distractions, he has a high pitch. In a crowded room or with a bunch of other kids, it sounds like he is shouting. (I have actually booked Sol into an ENT specialist to evaluate whether his pitch is affected by his breathing as he’s always had nose breathing issues – a future post).
  • Vocal speed – and this is also linked to coordination or the inability for Sol to coordinate his mouth into the words he wants to say. Actually, his brain is thinking quickly and his mouth can’t keep up. On reflection, you’d think he would get more frustrated than he does but honestly, he’s very rarely had a meltdown or tantrum around not being understood.

In the third example, I see the greatest challenges for Sol socially. I can see how other kids respond when it looks like Sol wants to say something and it doesn’t come out fast enough. And I’ve also noticed that he is starting to NOT speak in social situations when he is around people he doesn’t know. This points out that he is now AWARE of how he sounds, particularly to other kids. To our close friends that interact with him all the time, Sol never shuts up. For them, I am grateful. And Sol has also started to gravitate towards other children who don’t necessarily use verbal communication to “play”.

Sol now has  a “group” speech session with two other boys and Cindy. The purpose of this session is to help the boys interact socially and across their unique speech barriers. Happy to report that they have a great time and seem to have no issues understanding one another. Cindy has done an incredible job of bringing them together as they are able to accept one another and build confidence in each others company.

On a positive note and highlighting Sol’s strengths here – Sol has a memory for movie lines. Not just the words, but the emotion, the intention, the body language, facial expression – you name it. Most days we are treated to a re-enactment of a character and all the “famous” lines. He really keeps me laughing and it’s something I look forward to and encourage him to do. Dave and I try to play the “other characters” to build on his passion but we often fail miserably as we don’t “say it right” – HOW IRONIC.

We are 100% confident that with Cindy’s help and keeping Sol’s self esteem high, that his apraxia will abate and he will likely go on to be the next Sam Neill – oh, you didn’t know about him either??

Sister Love

I’m Jazz, Sol’s older sister by eight years. My mum asked me to write for her blog. Not sure if its because she’s run out of things to write about or whether writing this blog post for her was another bribe so that I could enjoy back-to-back sleepovers – LOL.

So here goes –  being Sol’s sister… if I’m being completely honest, I’ve never noticed much of a difference between me and my friends who also have annoying wreckless younger brothers. I mean at the end of the day, they pull hair and kick faces just the same right? Well of course with Sol, all of those things were slightly delayed (which worked out in my favor), and I did have a few extra months that I was able to bask in the fact that no one was calling me a stupid poo bum face 24/7, but I do think that just like any other sibling relationship, very, very, very deep down, Sol loves me. I believe that part of the reason I have never noticed a super obvious difference between Sol and other boys his age was because I’ve never really had a basis for comparison. And while part of this was because I’ve always hidden in my room while Sol had friends over so that I wouldn’t be called to clean up after him (which believe me is very annoying), another part is because I had wanted a sibling for so long that I didn’t really care who he was or what he was diagnosed with as long as I had someone to cuddle with and read books to and laugh about our parents with.


Like any other brother and sister, Sol and I have had our fair share of ups and downs, which usually ends up with him down on the ground because I’m incapable of letting anyone beat me at a fight or, in that case, pretty much anything. There are moments where he’ll come into my room reenacting scenes from movies and asking me to play along – like the time when he was three years old. He came into my room at 6 am, lay on top of me, and asked me if “I want to build a snowman”. Or the time we were having a family dinner, I can’t remember what we were discussing and Sol just chimes in with “Are we going talk about the elephant in the room?” and looks at us all very seriously. And then the time we were arguing over something (again I don’t remember what) and he says “You can’t tell me what to do! You don’t know me!” LOL – well, actually I do buddy. But there are also moments where I’ll get kisses for no reason, or he’ll come into my room late at night asking to sleep with me because he’s scared of “the monsters” in his room.

I still remember when Sol had gone for his MRI and Mom had sent us no less than a billion pictures of him with wires of every color sticking from his tiny coconut head, making him look like some odd alien with a big goofy smile staring at the camera. I didn’t even have to be in the room to know that my mom was probably cooing at him so she could take the perfect photo.

One of the things that I’ve always admired about Sol is that he never fails to get up and try again.  He’s less coordinated than the average 5-year-old but this has never stopped him from trying to flip off our couches or literally climb and bounce off the walls, but every time he falls, he gets back up. He’s always ready for trying new things and literally has NO FEAR. Believe me when I say he’s had his fair share of knocks on the head, cuts, and bruises, but not once has he let any of it stop him from trying again or trying something that he’s never done before.  I believe that even that in itself is something that many adults could do well to learn. Anyways, I could go on and on about how much Sol impresses me on the daily when he comes up with new lines and arguments on why he deserves new toys, or even just how good he is at always being himself, but I am going to say that despite everything, I do think that Sol is the very best brother I could ever ask for and I Iove him so much.



-Jazz (13)

We Like to Move it, Move it.

If you’ve read my post called “Brainiac – Villan or Superhero”, you’ll know that we had a very real picture of Sol’s brain and the challenges he would face when it came to balance and co-ordination….. and speech.

As Sol did reach his physical milestones, albeit a bit wobbly, we noticed that his sitting posture wasn’t very strong. He seemed to hunch and was floppy when we held him. I was lucky  to know a young lady who specialised in paediatric physiotherapy and I thought it would be worthwhile having Sol assessed by her. Sol had his first meeting and assessment with Joanna at 13 months old.

The report indicated the following:

This assessment certainly didn’t indicate that Sol had any obvious motor development delays. As a baby, he was really active and always moving so I believe his muscle power and ability to meet his physical milestones in his early years was a combination of the time he spent in activity, some of the early movement classes we introduced him to and his personality. Sol is a real go-getter and incredibly determined and these qualities will carry him far. Ironically, one of the traits for dyspraxia is that they tire easily. As the brain is always thinking about where to put that arm, lift that leg, how to turn this way or that, it is exhausting. If we apply this to ourselves, we don’t think about walking, we just walk. A dyspraxic will need to remind themselves to move one leg, then the other and “how did that chair appear in the way?”

Sol started “baby gym” classes with Sathya at Kizsports. For a long time, this was one of the only safe and clean indoor play spaces in Kuala Lumpur and they offered baby movement and music classes. In fact, I used to take Jazz to these when she was a baby, 13 years before! And we also had Sathya back then. The soft mats and multiple options for climbing, as well as socialisation ensured that Sol had a lot of his needs met.


Sol moved onto “TheLittleGym” when he was 18 months old. This was a more challenging gymnastics based class but once again, another space where he was able to hone his skills, particularly with balance. The teachers were kind, attentive and aware of Sol’s physical challenges. He stayed until he was 3.5years when it became more obvious that he was struggling with some of the atypical physical motor skills you might see in a kid his age.


We had another review with Joanna at 3 years, 3 months. The stakes were much greater with this feedback:

  • generalised joint hyper mobility where several of Sol’s joints are flexible than usual
  • hypotonia – low to average muscle tone
  • compromised balance and postural-equilibrium response or the ability to stop yourself from falling.
  • poor midline organisation
  • impulsive movement patterns, not always organised
  • poor timing, fluency and rhythm of movement patterns
  • no pincer grip for fine motor skills
  • holds head at an unusual angle when performing tasks up close

We swapped out Sol’s gymnastics sessions for focused Physical Therapy sessions with Joanna. Sol has been at The Energy Source for 9 months now.

Let me tell you about Joanna – she just “gets” kids that have learning differences and struggle daily. And she does not feel sorry for them or treat them “less than”. Joanna has high standards and higher expectations. Every session is planned to challenge and, wait for it, have FUN! Sol LOVES his sessions with Joanna. They are always laughing and what looks like playing is actually all part of Joanna’s clever plan. Every “circuit” or new exercise is masked as playtime. I think of Joanna’s sessions as a personal training session for a child and about 10 times more fun. When I’m watching, I find myself laughing a lot and marvelling at how creative and clever she is.


The moment it hit home just how much Sol had improved, was his Pre-School Sports Day. They had to carry water in cups, complete an obstacle course, throw things, jumping races – you name it, all the things that kids with poor co-ordination and sucky balance would hate. Not Sol – he had a blast, didn’t bat an eyelid at any of the activities and gave everything his best. And…….he was awesome!!!!!! There were quite a few moments (walking the plank, not spilling any water, throwing beanbags) where he was as accomplished as any other kid on the field. I felt so proud and admittedly a bit teary. Sol did not know that these activities were meant to be hard and that he typically shouldn’t be as good as he was. The time spent with Joanna has meant that my Sol-man left his very first sports day with his self esteem intact.


While many of Sol’s peers will now be starting to find a soccer team to join or trailing new sports, Sol might not have this in his future. I’m not saying never – I just think we are going to continue to focus on the tasks that Sol needs that keep him moving efficiently and safely through daily life. I’m grateful that we have found some physical activities that Sol enjoys and excels at and we are going to stick with those for now. Sol is showing quite good legs for running – if we can just get him running between the lines, we will be winning! Oh – and he’s damn quick on a scooter!

On a side note, I’ve started reading an amazing book I highly recommend for any parents that are struggling to make decisions for their kids who require more of a “scenic route” to education and life.

“Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World” by Deborah Reber – sharing this “I’ve come to realise that if we really want a parenting paradigm that embraces and appreciates who our children are, we have to first own up to the ways in which we are contributing to keeping the outdated one in place” (p.76).


Kizsports Gym

TheLittleGym Malaysia

The Energy Source