Last time we talked about how homeschooling lends itself to teaching your child with Autism how to interact with others and learn to be social.
More to come in Part 3...
Here's another reason why homeschooling can be a great fit for autistic children:
2. Many times, children with autism have a complex range of abilities, being extremely gifted in some areas and significantly delayed in other areas. Generally speaking, typically developing children are vary fairly minimally in their abilities. They may be really gifted in math, and just "normal" or a little behind in all the other subjects, but your not likely to find a typically developing child who is very gifted in math, but extremely delayed in another area, say in expressive language. Schools are really not designed to handle the unique skill sets that many autistic children display. There are the gifted programs, and there are the remedial programs; what does one do with a child who is both gifted and in need of remediation, and who, on top of that presents sensory, fine and gross motor challenges, and who has problems connecting with people in the social realm?
Homeschool is individualized education at it's best, and that is one of the oft quoted reasons people say they chose homeschooling for their kids. An individualized education is critical to a child on the spectrum. Guess what they call it in public schools? And IEP--aka an Individualized Education Plan. But can a school really individualize your child's education when they most likely have other children in the class with IEPs, plus typically developing children? Hmmm....
My background is in teaching, and I will tell you I learned next to nothing in my college classes on special education and NOTHING at all on autism specifically. When I student taught, I had over 90 children come into my class throughout the day due to block scheduling (4th grade). Over half of them had IEPs, for all kinds of reasons from behavioral issues, to developmental issues, to emotional issues, to cognitive issues. I could not give individualized attention to 50 plus special needs students a day, all with different needs, plus keep my regular students on the ball. I could not.
Now as a mom, I have a vested interest in my kid's well being and education. I know a lot about autism, and I learn more every day because I need to know. It's my kid we're talking about. So I have become the self-educated expert in my kid and his particular issues related to autism. I am the best person to teach him because I know his issues best and I am fully capable of accommodating for him because frankly, I am not overloaded with 30 other kids to take care of each day.
Little Bean is extremely intelligent. When we did IQ testing at age 5, he outscored the test in both verbal and non-verbal. The test only gives questions up to what a typical IQ would be for a 7.5 year old and he got them all right until they ran out of material. So he's gifted. But he's also delayed. Emotionally, he is on par with a three year old (he is 6 and a half-ish). He throws tantrums, he cries easily, he gets frustrated and can't tell me what's wrong. His fine motor skills are delayed too, which means he can't write very well or for very long. He is delayed in imaginative thought so he can't write a story that is made up. He has sensory issues that cause him to lose focus easily, which means that he can't do timed testing or be expected to complete things in a reasonable amount of time for his age and cognitive ability level. I could go on, but I digress.
Children on the autism spectrum are often very tactile or visual learners as well. At home, we have plenty of time to do fun hands-on projects that fit his learning style. I can choose to purchase curriculum that works for him and I can choose to abandon curriculum that brings tears to both of our eyes. ;) In short, I tailor the education to him. Not something that can be done in school when the state is mandating certain things be taught in a certain time frame and in a certain way.
The point is, children with autism need an individualized education. Everyone agrees on that point. But the question is this--where can a child with autism best get an individualized education--at home or at school? I vote at home, just because when it's all laid out, that makes the most sense to me.
What do you think?
More to come in Part 3...