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  1. #1

    Default New homeschooler with special needs


    My name is Jessica. I'm from northeast Indiana, married with 3 kids. Our oldest is 15 (my stepdaughter) and she attends the local public high school. Our son is 5 and has special needs (autistic tendencies) and I am attempting to start homeschooling him since I don't believe he will function well in a traditional school environment. Our youngest is almost 16 months old and VERY curious. We also have a 15 year old cat and 5 year old Pit Bull. I am a stay at home mom with my hands very full LOL

    I have been researching homeschool styles for a while and looking for guidance in teaching a child with learning difficulties. I believe my son will benefit from a sort of "unschooling" style or child directed learning. I know we can't "force" him to do something without encountering massive amounts of resistance so I would rather use his interests to lead his lessons and keep him focused. If anybody has any tips or resources for teaching special needs at home, I would be very grateful for your help!

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  3. #2


    Welcome! Is your son in ABA or other Autism-related therapies?
    Sometimes, when people say "unschooling", they think it means letting their kids run wild, waiting for them to decide to want to do arithmatic and reading. Maybe those kids exist in some families, but its not very pro-active.
    Im not sure what the reporting requirements are for Indiana, but you could probably keep a planner, and jot the activities youve accomplished down... both for reporting (if its required), and to help you remember what youre doing.
    You may want to try low-key play-based learning, if you think simple workbooks will be opposed. There are a bazillion math and reading games out and about in the world, most of them free!
    Where is he with his math, reading, and writing skills? Theres a general progression of stages / sequence kids go through for learning these things. Offering advice on how to get him to draw straight lines is not going to be helpful if hes printing upper and lower case letters already, or if hes not yet mastered the index finger drawing yet.

    For science and social studies, you could pick a scope that covers a variety of topics, which you offer up. Let him be interested or not in them. We are using the BYL Kindy curriculum, which visits each continent. This week we were learning about Canada.... some things spark his interest (Moose were interesting today for about 15 minutes of youtube videos), and others he is bored by. We pursue it based on his interest at that point, but if I had waited for spontaneous interest in Canada, or other parts of the world hes never heard of, it might never happen.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    I have a SN DD9, so I fully understand the difficulties of fitting a SN child into a traditional school system without crushing him in the process. It is also easier to justify (if you need justifying) homeschooling a SN child whether it is for yourself, your spouse, MIL, or nosy neighbors.

    I am often perusing different SN resources and the pattern that I see is that SN kids often need a lot more structure and routine than most neurotypical kids. That is something to think about! You can still do unschoolish/child-led type of learning, but you might need to 'dress it up" in more structure and routine.
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  5. #4


    A good read is a book called "Choosing Home" it is about a boy with autism and his family's decision to homeschool him.

    I have a good friend who has a high functioning autistic son. Socializing was important (he is a senior this year!) But, that also meant socializing for the amount of time that he wanted, and then leaving before a melt down.

    A lot of his learning was on computers...he loves computer games. He would even write...if it was on a Leapster! Writing was his bane at school, but given a stylus and the game...he would do it. (And the Leapster was HARD to do!)

    Remember, you have 18 to 21 years to get through what other kids do. There might be great leaps when he turns into a teen. Or not, it is still okay. I don't know your kid and everyone is different. Some kids tune out when they know they cannot do things. Some kids throw tantrums. Some will tell you. If you encounter resistance or tuning out, back up a few lessons and repeat. Find his comfort zone and start from there again. If the first way doesn't work when repeated, find a different way to do it.

    Continue to look for things that might help. Occupational therapy, get evaluated for Vision Therapy if reading is hard. Try different hands on curriculums if needed.

    Don't be afraid to throw in the towel if needed. You are not in Texas where it is an all or nothing kind of place (so I have heard.) If you do decided to enroll in regular school later, insist on testing, and be sure that they NEVER say anything to "blame" you for any deficiencies. Likely, they could not do better.

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New homeschooler with special needs