THE BENEFITS OF HOMESCHOOLING AUTISM
Recently I was talking with an elementary teacher. This is a teacher who has loved teaching for the past 15+ years, and she is very good at it. She was born to teach, and she is one of the few teachers that I have said, “If I could guarantee that every teacher was like you, I would probably have sent my children to school.” However, she was expressing her frustration at having so many children on the spectrum in her mainstream classrooms. And she sees the benefits of homeschooling with autism.
You see, classrooms are not designed for all children. This teacher is trying to get a lot of children through the work. And highly gifted children, children on the spectrum, and any child that does not learn best in a traditional classroom make her job harder. Her words, “You are best suited to teach your own child.” You see my autism child has very special needs. I believe the positives of homeschooling with autism far outweigh the negatives. Homeschooling with autism doesn’t come easy, but many times it is the best option available.
For those that don’t know, Jack-Jack is my youngest son. He is currently 14 and has autism. However, he is reading and doing math at a second-grade level. He is a kind, happy child who never ceases to amaze us with his joy and enthusiasm for life. We feel blessed to be his parents and have learned so much from him. We have homeschooled him from the beginning, and after talking with other autism parents, I believe there is a tremendous benefit of homeschooling a child with autism.
The Benefits of Homeschooling Autism:
I saw the benefit of homeschooling my other children, but I believe there is even a greater benefit to the child with autism. Here are the advantages I see:
LEARNING AT THEIR OWN PACE
My son currently reads at a 2nd-grade level. If he was in school he would constantly be pushed beyond what he was capable of. I have watched other families struggle with this. They believe in the benefits of the school system for their child overall, but they see the disadvantages of pushing a child beyond their ability. Jack-Jack deals with anxiety on a regular basis. Pushing him daily beyond his skills only causes more anxiety.
THE FLEXIBILITY TO WORK ON LIFE SKILLS
Jack-Jack requires time every day to work on life skills. He can make toast (although if you have ever seen Rain Man, you know that I am never far from the kitchen when he is making it). Butter bread. Pour drinks. Take a bath and wash his hair. Get dressed. But there are life skills we work on, but progress is slow. Memorizing his address; crossing the street; money and time – all these are taking much, much longer than anticipated.
TAILORING THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Jack-Jack doesn’t learn best by sitting in a classroom setting. He needs to be moving, doing, and taking frequent breaks. He would be disruptive every day in a classroom. In addition, we can customize his curriculum to work on what works for him.
IMMERSED IN AREAS THAT MOTIVATE HIM
Jack-Jack loves Disney. I have developed a curriculum that utilizes Disney movies to teach him. I believe in the theory of coming into their world. We enter Jack-Jack’s world and make connections with him to meet him where he is. In addition, one of Jack-Jack’s favorite activities is playing with slime. We make slime a lot. And are always on the lookout for a good recipe!
ABILITY TO LIMIT EXPOSURE TO BAD BEHAVIOR
Jack-Jack picks up bad behaviors from others. In a school setting, he would be picking up behaviors that would then take years to deal with. I would literally be spending hours every day to correct wrong behavior.
An IEP isn’t necessary when homeschooling. I talk to parents all the time about the frustration in the IEP meetings and making sure the IEP covers the areas that are needed. Thankfully, I have never had to deal with an IEP.
FREE TO BE THEMSELVES
Imagine someone telling you the entire time you are in school to sit still, be quiet, etc. Working closely with my son enables me to know when he needs a break, allows him to dance and sing when he needs to, and develop his personality. Do you ever wonder how you would have developed if you learned in a different environment?
FOCUS ON SECURITY BEFORE LEARNING
The area of the brain that deals with fight or flight is powerful. If your child does not feel secure in their environment, learning can not take place. When they are young, dealing with issues of feeling safe and secure are more important than dealing with learning how to read.
Reviewing movies for parents from a Christian perspective since 2005. Know Before You Go!
Christian Homeschooling mom – 30 years and counting
Autism Mom & Disney enthusiast