Monday, August 1, 2011

The challenges of homeschooling a child with Autism



I really enjoyed writing my series on homeschooling a child with autism. It was great therapy for me. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of all the reasons that I do choose to keep Little Bean at home. Not just my general reasons for choosing homeschooling for all our kids, but my nitty-gritty reasons for choosing homeschooling for Little Bean specifically. I need to be reminded. Because I'll be perfectly honest with you; homeschooling Little Bean, largely due to his special needs, is really, really, really hard.

For the longest time, in our pre-diagnosis days, I would read about these perfect little homeschooling families, and I'd sit back and wonder, how come my homeschool days didn't look like theirs?? How come every time I was fun and creative my son would end up in tears? How come every time I followed his lead, he'd end up melting down? How come he couldn't sit still or be quiet? Or look at me when I was teaching him? How come he would become distracted by the smallest thing and couldn't get back on track? How come homeschooling him wasn't as fun as I thought it would be?

Well, post-diagnosis, I know better. I don't have to wonder as much any more where some of his behaviors are coming from. Course, every child is unique and presents his or her own challenges. I'm not "blaming" anything on autism; I'm just saying that the more I learn about autism, the more I seem to know how to better teach my son.

I remember opening up Tony Attwood's book, The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome a few weeks before we got Little Bean's diagnosis. I devoured that book. It spoke to me because it was like reading a book about my son, word for word, letter by letter. I've devoured plenty of other books since then, and I love learning all I can about autism, because every new piece of information I take in helps me. It helps me parent him, and that in turn helps me homeschool him.

I want to talk about some of the challenges we face in our homeschool due to behaviors Little Bean presents each time we sit down to work. I want to talk about this because I feel like, and maybe it's just me, but there seems to be this hesitancy in the homeschooling community about opening up about our struggles. We like to show off our curriculum and our school rooms and our projects. But we don't often like to talk about the hard parts about homeschooling. I think we should. I hope someone reads my blog and they can see their own homeschooling situation in it, and they can say, "Hey, maybe I'm not alone. Maybe this is doable." That's what I want.

So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be writing some posts about the challenges I face in teaching Little Bean in our home. The things I've discovered that have worked for us, the things I've had to question and let go of, and most especially the things I haven't figured out yet, because there are surely a lot of those too.

I look forward to sharing my heart with you in this series, and I hope you all enjoy reading it too!

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5 comments:

Angela said...

OH, thank you thank you thank you. I still struggle having 2 special need children homeschooling. I tend to post the good. But the truth is we struggle daily with things that others don't, or do but don't talk about. Homeschooling the past two years with my daughter have been great, but my famous saying is, When it's good, it's good, but when it's bad, it's REAL bad! It is nice to see that someone is willing to be so candid. You will help many mom's.

Angela said...

OH, thank you thank you thank you. I still struggle having 2 special need children homeschooling. I tend to post the good. But the truth is we struggle daily with things that others don't, or do but don't talk about. Homeschooling the past two years with my daughter have been great, but my famous saying is, When it's good, it's good, but when it's bad, it's REAL bad! It is nice to see that someone is willing to be so candid. You will help many mom's.

Rachel said...

I look forward to reading more of your homeschooling journey. I am starting this fall with homeschooling my oldest dd with Autism. We are also going to use a workbox system.

Desiree said...

I am really learning a lot from you. I don't have a child that is officially diagnosed with Autism, but sometimes I wonder if that's part of his challenge. He is mostly normal, but is a challenge everyday. Maybe this will help me too in our daily homeschool.

ttfnqt said...

Where does one begin? What's needed to get started homeschooling. Iowa g'ma.

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