• Homeschooling a Child on the Autism Spectrum

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    You would think homeschooling your second-born would be a given if you are homeschooling your first, right? But even though the special needs of my oldest had necessitated him getting his education at home, I didnít really consider it for my active, happy five year old (who Iíll call ďPĒ). Yes, he was quite speech-delayed, but he had a lot of ear infection troubles as a toddler, and our ped always attributed the delay to that. So with speech therapy and a half-day kindergarten program, we felt like we were right on track with P.

    Until we werenít.

    Only three weeks into the school year, P became lost on a school field trip. He had simply wandered off from the group - - something we had dealt with multiple times in the past, and had again attributed to simple causes. Thankfully, he turned up just down the road from his group, but a couple months into the school year, the speech delays just werenít improving much, and P was getting frustrated at not being able to communicate well with his peers and teachers. And following Christmas, we were having an unexpected sit-down with the school therapist who felt at the minimum he was likely to have dyslexia, and at the maximum, well...just might be on the Autism Spectrum.

    So, upon finishing the one and only school year he ever partook in, we brought P home to be educated at home with his older bro. To boil down the rest of our homeschooling story, Iíll break it down into some major highlights. (And when you read these, do NOT interpret them in any way as advice, but rather just personal choices I/we made which felt right at the time)

    • Because we were homeschooling, I never felt the need to go through an official diagnosis protocol. As his mom, Iím 99% sure heís has ASD, but weíve never applied for special services or even acted as if there were anything he couldnít accomplish because of his unique differences
    • ASD affected just about every aspect of homeschooling P - - from curriculum choices, to schedules, to homeschooling styles, to my teaching/facilitation approach to preparing for graduation and life beyond
    • P was a highly visual learner and just about the only programs that consistently worked with him were multimedia curricula such as Time4Learning
    • The biggest struggle I faced with trying to help my son was trying to ďget into his headĒ...even though he became a much better communicator, I have always struggled with trying to see things from his perspective. Iím a linear thinker (see bullet points here <<<<) , and he is SO NOT.
    • The biggest struggle P faced with me trying to help his was his fear of letting me down. Mistakes in Pís world are devastating, and I had to remind him every single day that I not only didnít mind mistakes, but welcomed them because they meant he was trying something new (not always easy for kids with ASD!!)


    Now that P has graduated homeschool, and works full time (and I should say, to continue to give you hope, that the kid makes as much money right out of high school as I did when I graduated COLLEGE!) , I look back on this experience of homeschooling him so positively. Not that it wasnít sometimes the original-9859-7292113-jpghardest, most frustrating of experiences, but because it simply made me a better person, and let me really, really get to know my sons (well, as much as mysteriously cool people are knowable, anyway). So now, I just want to share, share, share, all those experiences, and mostly create community with other parents in my shoes (or who soon will be). To that end, I want to tell you about a little social networking project Iíve recently kicked off. Iíve opened two new communities online for parents of homeschooled children on the spectrum. One on Twitter, and one on Facebook. These might eventually blossom into something more (I hope they do!) but for now, Iím happy just hanging out with other parents like myself and giving them encouragement and a reminder that it can be done, and it can turn out just fine.

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    Please do feel free to follow those networks, but for now, letís just chat. Tell me about your own experiences homeschooling your child on the spectrum, and what life is like at your house. One thing youíll never get from me is judgment, because everything I learned about parenting/homeschooling a child with ASD was learned by mistakes and intuition. More of the former, and less of the latter. And even though heís 19 now, Iím still learning every day. Which means I can learn from you too, so please do share!!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Homeschooling a Child on the Autism Spectrum started by Topsy View original post
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