Various other subjects are explored based on Reine’s prevailing curiosity. One of her subject choices in August 2017 was ‘Autism Studies’. Although very happy to explore this subject I was worried as to how Reine would gain any kind of practical experience of autism whilst homeschooling in Mauritius. As I taught therapeutic music to autistic and other differently able children in the early 2000’s I was acutely aware that what we learn in theory is absolutely no substitute for real interaction with autistic children and their quirks, personalities, challenges and abilities.
The very first week of learning, Reine was just finishing her weekly horse riding session at Forbach Stables in the North of Mauritius, when to my amazement a school bus arrived from which a whole group of autistic children excitedly emerged to start working with and among the horses.
This immersion into experiencing autism and the various traits first hand was invaluable to Reine. Children from various ends of the spectrum were present. Some able to mount and ride the horses virtually unaided, with others finding even simple tasks challenging. At first Reine was quite trepidatious of the children, in part because they are all French or Creole speaking which makes communication even more challenging than is normally the case with the differently able.