Seven-year-old Bradley Pinksen and his mom, Julie Pinksen, will take part in Deer Lake’s annual Walk for Autism Sunday.
— Star photo by Paul Hutchings
DEER LAKE Bradley Pinksen is right where he wants to be. Playing a game on his iPod, his little dog at his feet, the seven-year-old’s education took a turn last month when his mom, Julie Pinksen, decided to home-school him. Bradley has autism and his mom said teaching him at home has made all the difference.
“He’s much more relaxed now; he’s learning more,” she said. “We can teach him here in a way that he knows how to learn and it’s a lot better for him and for all of us.”
With the help of a home care worker, Bradley is learning subjects that students would learn at any school, such as math and science.
He recently made a volcano with baking soda and vinegar. He’s learning about molecules and even made balloons into speakers so he could listen to his favourite band, the Black Eyed Peas.
Pinksen is rather diplomatic about her reasons for pulling her son out of school. She had good things to say about school staff, who she said tried their best. But Bradley’s day was cut down to half and he seemed very stressed. Diagnosed with Asperger’s a few years ago, Bradley was not doing as well as Julie said she knew he could, so she started teaching him at home.
“This isn’t something I dreamed I’d ever do,” said Pinksen. “But within about a week we noticed a change. He was less stressed and much happier and he’s learning a lot.”
Pinksen doesn’t seem to be exhibiting signs of stress that some parents would after making such a big decision on their child’s education. She actually seems quite happy to have Bradley at home, and with the help of his home therapist, Kelly Rubia, who works with him 10 hours a week, Pinksen said Bradley’s progress is remarkable.
Bradley’s eighth birthday is next month and in August he’ll lose the services of his home therapist because the service is not funded by the province past Grade 3 for children with autism.
It’s a big reason why Pinksen said they are planning to move to Alberta. Their house is already up for sale.
“(Rubia) is a godsend, she really is,” said Pinksen. “I’ve signed a petition. I really believe this service should be available to (children with autism) up until they’re in Grade 12.”
Deer Lake’s annual Walk for Autism starts Sunday at 2 p.m. from Elwood Elementary, which Pinksen said they will attend. She said the community is always very supportive and rain or shine, she said, Bradley is determined to take part.