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Thread: Autism Homeschooling Curriculum : Language Arts

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    Default Autism Homeschooling Curriculum : Language Arts

    I am new, so I hope I am posting in the right place. I did not know if this post belonged here or in the curriculum area. I apologize if I guessed wrong.

    My autistic son is in the second grade, and we are planning on homeschooling next year due to his inablility to fit into the school's expectations. We have tried working with the district and they have just made things worse, and so we are pulling him for his mental health.

    My son is advanced in mathematics, and I am fairly confident in crafting a curriculum for that as well as for science and social studies. (That may be hubris on my part, but my comfort level right now is good, anyway.)

    On Language Arts I am really stumped, as that is where his deficits really come through. He is hyperlexic, so his fluency is above grade but his comprehension is not so good, especially with inferences and anything having to do with emotions or things kids normally like and are expected to know and use personal experiences for.

    His writing is horrid, as his fine motor skills are really bad, and the school's OT program was unable to fix his grip. Also his communication skills make it hard to bring thoughts to paper (or even to mouth) and I will need to prompt and scaffold a lot.

    He tends to test well in grammar, but has trouble applying it.

    I am hoping some wise person has suggestions. Free or close to free is optimal.

    We are also considering using the K12 "free" charter school to start out with the first year. So if anyone has thoughts or experience with that, that would be awesome too.

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    Senior Member Enlightened WhatEverWorks's Avatar
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    In the same boat here - mine is in 7th/8th grade and still struggles with analyzing fiction in his writing. We gave up on the pencil grip and let him type everything. Most of what works for me in middle school is by Lucy Calkins. She has a ton of resources for elementary students. I found a PDF for sale in December for just $10 that was her year long guide for reading and writing by grades. Unfortunately, those cheaper ones aren't on the website any more. But, there are many free guides and examples that can probably help. The best advice we got was to concentrate on his fluency more than the actual content or grammar in the beginning just to get the words flowing from his brain to the paper. This year, I've also incorporated writing into his easier subjects, like science and math, since he can more easily talk about those. Resources - The Reading & Writing Project
    Son - 7th grade, HS
    Daughter - 10th grade, PS
    Blog – in progress, Home Schooling in 7th Grade

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    Senior Member Enlightened leakyowl's Avatar
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    Same boat here. Even in public school, getting him LA was a nightmare, so I just supplemented at home. His reading comprehension stunk when he had to read stories about people, but skyrocketed when he read about volcanoes or dinosaurs. He would write informative information when given prompts about science--he'd even make up stories if it could be about dinosaurs rather than people. But, because "the test" wouldn't let him do that, neither would they. They were stuck with what they could teach him--can't move from the good ole curriculum after all. Everyone (teachers, administrators, and my son) broke down when it came time for the bleeping standardized tests.

    But, G loves science and certain areas of history, so we've been focusing heavily on those. Our LA comes mostly from reading, summarizing, and writing about those topics. Edhelper.com has some good reading comprehension stuff for science and history, too. We mix things around in kind of strange ways. For example, to get him into poetry, we read Science Verse by Jon Sciezka. Then, he'd read The Raven and As I wondered...Idioms are a rough patch for him, but we've got a couple of books written specifically for kids on the spectrum (The One and Only Sam, It's Raining Cats and Dogs)--he loves to draw and that helps his grip, so I have him draw what he thinks and idiom looks like, then write what it really means. He loves it. I also let him type a lot.

    I got the state's curricular requirements for his grade (we're in Texas, so that's the TEKS) and basically have made sure he's got the info he needs but meshing this stuff together. He's more interested and doesn't collapse so completely.

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    Senior Member Arrived dbmamaz's Avatar
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    Bravewriter is a very well loved writing curriculum here - The Writers Jungle, its core, is more of a guide on how to become a coach to your child than a specific curriculum. She is big on appreciating what your child can do instead of focusing on what he isnt ready for yet, and supporting them in connecting with language instead of demanding that they do artificial assignments which are meaningless to them. Her free writes often really help someone learn to get something on paper - but only if you can follow the rules - they can write absolutely whatever they want, and no corrections or editing at first . . . and then very gentle editing and corrections. The idea is that if you give them ownership of their writing and let them write what interests them, they will be more motivated to want to improve their writing.

    (I didnt respond to Whatever's post, but my thought is that the ability to analyze fiction is simply extremely unimportant to anyone who doesnt want to be an english major. I couldnt care less if my boys can do that or not - i expose them to it, encourage it, and let it go)

    anyways, its hard to know how to help your son with his grammar unless you understand how he learns best. Bravewriter thinks most kids can learn grammar from dictation and from gentle correction. sometimes as parents we forget that they dont have to be writing college-level papers by 4th grade. Its ok if it takes until high school to be able to write high school quality - they will mature. and most kids mature unevenly.

    my highschooler came out of public 7th grade unable to write a paragraph. He is still not a strong writer, but i believe his skills will be enough to get him through a community college tech degree, which is where we are headed. and i know he's made huge progress.

    Oh, and free k12 is generally not successful unless your kids liked everything about school except being in the building - you are still a public school student, you still have to do the same assignments and the same standardized tests on the same schedule. Esp for asynchronous kids, following their passion while slowly and patiently working on their shortcomings will lead to a happier and more productive educational experience - fighting to try to force a kid to do something he hates actually can interfere with learning . . . go figure

    (sorry about the soap box lecture . . . not sure what happened there )
    farrarwilliams and Rtrujillo like this.
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    Senior Member Enlightened WhatEverWorks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbmamaz View Post
    (I didnt respond to Whatever's post, but my thought is that the ability to analyze fiction is simply extremely unimportant to anyone who doesnt want to be an english major. I couldnt care less if my boys can do that or not - i expose them to it, encourage it, and let it go)
    In real life - not really. But in most high school settings, its required. I chose to make sure he has the skills required for all the intermediate steps on the way to his goal. In that same vein, we deliberately skipped most of the ELA curriculum covered in the local schools because I know from experience that its not ever referenced again at the high school level.

    That's the beauty of home school - we can each make decisions based on what is best for our child.
    Son - 7th grade, HS
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    Thank you all so much for replying. I will definitely check out those resources.

    I am planning to start out with my state's curriculum as a guide, and then extend it when appropriate and scaffold when necessary. There is still plenty of room for customization and changes in emphasis, which I will use to alter what I do. Some of it will just depend on how it goes.

    We have to work on fiction, because my son is very socially impaired and is going to have to learn about people through realistic fictional characters as opposed to real life. That and if he wants to go to typical Liberal Arts college, he is going to need to parse fiction for lit class. Since I do not know what his path will take, I am trying to keep as many options open for him, as I can.
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    Thank you for this thread, it resonates as my son is meant to be practicing writing at home (he is part-time HE due to health issues) and I had no idea where to start, he has Aspergers too so some similar issues. Will definitely check out BraveWriter and please update how you get on! So nice to hear from someone in a very similar boat.

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    You are supposed to learn about life from reading fiction. That is what fiction is for.

    Hobbitinahobbithole, we do a lot of reading out loud and discussing, asking each other questions, doing Charlotte Mason-style narration, and putting sentences on the whiteboard to look at more closely. You may want something more formal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichelleC View Post
    You are supposed to learn about life from reading fiction. That is what fiction is for.

    Hobbitinahobbithole, we do a lot of reading out loud and discussing, asking each other questions, doing Charlotte Mason-style narration, and putting sentences on the whiteboard to look at more closely. You may want something more formal.
    Michelle, I agree with your ideas about reading and discussing out loud. But, I don't agree 100% with the thought that fiction is for learning about life. That may be true for many, but not for everyone. Do you have a child on the spectrum? (Sorry - everyone starts to blend in here after awhile and I honestly cannot remember.) Some children are just hardwired to think in factual concrete ways. A story is just a story to be read and enjoyed at face value. And, that's ok. In our case, we are going further (and he is much older than the OP's son) only because the English classes he'll take in high school and college will require this type of analysis. After that, he'll be back to reading solely for pleasure 100% of the time.
    Son - 7th grade, HS
    Daughter - 10th grade, PS
    Blog – in progress, Home Schooling in 7th Grade

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    I've heard Spelling Power is very good. I own it, but we haven't tried it yet. For reading comprehension, I've used materials from Evan-Moor and Teacher Created Resources successfully, supplementing with lots of free reading--often comic books as that's the only fiction my son is really interested in. I've also used Houghton Mifflin textbooks as spines for exposure to a variety of genres. Third grade is considered the point as which most students are developmentally ready to learn to type, but with your son, the sooner the better. We started with Type to Learn Jr. and Typer Island. There are also several free programs out there, such as Dance Mat typing. Once he can type a bit, word prediction programs such as CoWriter can be helpful. For writing, narration and dictation from books your son likes might be helpful, as well as the Bravewriter program. For more explicit, structured instruction, IEW materials might work.

    I would not recommend K12. IMHO, you will need more flexibility, and freedom to work on specific skills, than they will allow.

    HTH!
    Last edited by Batgirl; 05-03-2013 at 12:36 AM.
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