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Topic: Should I homeschool my autistic son?

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Subject: Should I homeschool my autistic son?
Date Posted: 9/3/2008 11:27 AM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2008
Posts: 12
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His teachers cannot deal with him. I do not have the problems they do here at home. They all say the same thing; he's got it academically, behaviorally is where his problems are. He's in 1st grade, went through pre-K and did Kindergarten twice. The last school we were in before we had to move did an excellent job with him. This school doesn't know how to handle him. I've taken him to a developmental pediatrician and she said he doesn't need to go to a "Special school", something his teachers tried to do. He needs a structured day tailored toward his capabilities. She even gave me information on a curriculum called "Monarch", where they go and work with the teachers and show them certain things they can do with autistic kids. His teachers looked at me as if I was so presumptuous as to tell them things about their job - even after the Special Ed. director said she she was still getting continuing training for the teachers in that area. (It is the LAW, anyway.) His doctor has said he needs to go to a regular school that will tailor their curriculum to his needs and he does not need medication. But they are constantly frustrated with him and he stays frustrated at school. What do I do? Any thoughts or comments are welcome. I'm at my wits' end.

Date Posted: 9/3/2008 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 48
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Wow, it sounds like you are in a tough situation.  I would check out a site called Wrights Law to see what his rights are. I am a special ed. teacher but I am so tired today I know he has rights but I can't remember much. He is entitled to a free APPROPRIATE education. Is his education free right now? yes. Is it appropriate? no. The school needs to tell you what they are doing to make it appropriate.  Has your child had a Functional Behavioral Analysis for a Behavioral Intervention Plan written? If not, make a request in writing. Send it to the Principal, special ed. teachers, school psychologist and district headquarters. A Behavioral Intervention plan will help the school look at what is causing his inappropriate behavior.  The two most common curricula for children with autism are called ABA and TEACCH. The special ed. teachers may be more familiar with those. I have not heard of Monarch.  I also recommend you read Teaching with Love and Logic . I work at a special ed school.  We use their behavior system and we recomend it for parents.

Good luck, I am so sorry you are going through this!

Date Posted: 9/3/2008 9:31 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 107
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Sorry to hear you are going through that.  I am a Sp. Ed. teacher and I have an autistic boy again in one of my classes this year.  Last year he was initially place in a self-contained class but his parents didn't feel that was the right placement for him so they had a meeting with the head of the Sp Ed. Dept. and it was decided to place him in Gen. Ed. full-day.  At first I didn't know what to expect, but I worked closely with his one-on-one aide, his previous teacher, his (then current) Gen. Ed. teacher and parents.  By the time the end of the year came around in June we were all so happy that he was placed in our classroom.  I have him again this year and am looking foward to another good year with him.  Do I know everything about him and autism? No, but I am willing to learn - to me that's part of our job!

I agree with Samantha and would encourage you to get in touch with the Director of Sp. Ed. or the Director of Pupil Services.  You son in entitled to a free appropriate education, the school needs to look into what it can do for him.



Last Edited on: 9/3/08 9:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/4/2008 9:36 AM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2008
Posts: 12
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Thank you both for your replies. He does have an IEP and all that but I have not heard of a Behavior Analysis. They may have done that last year when they wanted to send him to a another school for "behaviorally challenged" kids. I'll ask if that's what that assessment was called; I may not remember the term. We had a meeting with everyone and the director of that school said he did not need to go there; so did his doctor. She said that would only make him worse and that he needed to be in a classroom setting with a one-on-one aide, like yours did, Jim. This is why I hesitate about homeschooling; it just seems that he - and his teachers - stay frustrated all day long. Academically he has no problem.

Thank you for telling me about the Functional Behavioral Analysis. I will speak to his doctor next week and I have a meeting with his teacher so I will bring that up to both of them.

Date Posted: 9/10/2008 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 107
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I hope everything is working out for your son.  I would really push for the one-on-one aide and finding out about the FBA.  They can be very helpful when done correctly.

We just had a parent/teacher meeting with my boy and his mom was very happy to see that I would be working with him again this year.  The one-on-one aide was at the meeting too.  She's new to the Autism spectrum, but she is a quick learner (has a couple of children herself) and is working closely with me to do everything we can for my dear boy.  I will admit that at times it can be frustrating (for all of us - the 1:1 aide, the teacher, myself, and of course the student), but he's in 5th grade and we are working on having him verbalize his frustrations which in turn helps us out.  I am hoping to see some real growth this year!

Date Posted: 9/13/2008 10:50 AM ET
Member Since: 2/22/2007
Posts: 2
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I am also a special ed teacher and am trained in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  I received my training through a family that I tutored for while I was in college.  I have nothing but positive things to say from my experience.  The child that I worked with progressed to the point that he did  not require a personal aide at school.  I currently work in a large school district in Florida.  Our district does not provide ABA because of the large expense it incurs.  Their argument is that the programs they offer are appropriate.    

I don't know where you live, but there should be some community resources for you somewhere.  Our area has a large support group for autism as well as community agencies that help parents with privately funding programs like ABA.  Parents here also qualify for "respite care" which pays for babysitters or  day camp so that you can get some respite from the caregiving.  Your doctor should have some information about that.  If your doctor doesn't know anything then your state should have a local Children's Medical Service agency that can help.

As for your question about the school.  As a teacher, I can respect that they need to ensure that your son's behavior is not endangering any other children or interrupting their right to learn.  However, the district should also have some interventions they are willing to try to improve the situation.  I am surprised that they didn't just jump all over your suggestion about the Monarch program.  As a parent, I would really push for that.  It sounds like they aren't very familiar with the special needs of children with autism.  If the principal is of no help, then I would call the special education director of your district.  That usually gets things moving.  If possible, you may need to move to another school where the teachers are more interested in helping.   At my school, we occasionally have children that we just know we are not equipped to help, and we work with the parents to place them in other schools that offer something more appropriate.

In the event that you are still not satisfied, ask for a copy of your district's procedural safeguards.  They detail your rights as a parent and will instruct you as to how you  can begin mediation.  No  district wants to go to mediation or due process.  They will probably do whatever you want including provide a 1:1 aide. 

As a side suggestion, have you been to the school to observe through a door to see exactly what is going on?  You may see some things that are triggering problems that can easily be avoided if the teacher were aware of them.

Good luck! 

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 9/16/2008 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2008
Posts: 12
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Thanks guys. I appreciate all your help.

I have spoken with his doctor again and she gave me some helpful advice, some of which is what's been suggested on here. He is going to get the Behavior Analysis and after that is done I will sit down and talk with the teachers and the Analyst and come up with some things, bringing in what the docotor told me. His docotor even suggested that they can call her if there's any questions. I really wish I could see what was going on when he has his "episodes" because they don't just happen; something is bothering him or frustrating him. That's what we're trying to figure out. The doctor said his behavior is not a motivation problem; it's just the only way he knows how to communicate that something's wrong. He can't say, "Well, I'm frustrated because of so-so....". He can only say something like," No!" , "No way" or "I not!" The trick is to figure out what's going on. I'll see if they will record the first hour there at school (he's by himself at that time with his Sp Ed teacher) and find some other form of observation for the other classes. Something sets him off. I'm trying to figure out what's wrong.

Thanks again for all your input.

 

Subject: Autism and homeschooling...
Date Posted: 9/19/2008 3:31 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 34
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My son is almost 4 and on the autism spectrum. I was SO lucky to get him in to an autism based pre-school (state funded, as well, and as we're broker than broke, I never could have afforded anything private!!) and I'm so grateful to his wonderful teachers. One of the main autism symptoms is impaired social skills and that was my first thought when you wondered about homeschooling. It's so vital for autistic kids to be exposed to social interaction, and even though they may never fully "fit in", I think it's important that they not be sheltered from the way the "typical" population goes about their day to day business. My son absolutely lives in his own world and marches to a drum only he can hear, but if he didn't have the outside exposure that his school day provides, I can't imagine how he would be. I'm not equipped or trained to provide his sole education and I'm often times not as strict as I should be. He's learned independence from being exposed to others that wouldn't have happened if he'd been home with me all day. Granted, I'm a 44 year old mom and there are no other children, and I'm basically clueless, just relying on maternal instinct and then there's the autism angle that requires constant learning on my part, so each day for me is a new learning experience.

Where do you live? There should be advocacy groups available to help you in your quest to get your son the proper learning environment he needs. Does he get any speech therapy or occuptional therapy or any at home services? Let me know youe specific situation and I'll do a search on line and see what I can find...

Hang in there.............

Tracey, Long Island

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 9
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Is the teacher keeping records of your son's "episodes"?  Where I teach, we have to keep track of what happened before, during, and after a student outburst in case there is a simple pattern or 'trigger'.  Here's an example of a form we fill out:

http://www.uft.org/chapter/teacher/special/anecRecord_Blank.pdf

Good luck!

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 4:17 PM ET
Member Since: 2/1/2007
Posts: 208
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First of all, you are to be commended for the fight you are making for your child.  I'm a retired EX. Ed teacher of 35 years.  Please try to keep him in public schools.  He needs the interaction with other kids if , in the future, he can be successful in the real world.  The first few years of school are the most difficult for child , parent, and teacher, but I have seen great things happen after them.  The  Functional Behavior Assessment and the resulting Behavior Intervention Plan is the key to success.  The teachers and parent meet to examine his behavior, documenting what goes on prior to problems, where he is, what is going on in the room, etc.  They then should choose a few problems to address, usually emphasizing the one that is causing the most disturbance to concentrate on, come up with a plan to decrease its happening and to reward appropriate behavior.  This plan must be VERY individualized, emphasizing your child's needs.  Be prepared to let them know what your child would enjoy as a reward for appropriate behavior.

I had worked with an autistic kindergardener who never interacted, even looked at others, often pitched tantrums, kicking, scratching etc.  After only a couple of weeks on his plan which we very consistently carried out, we saw immense improvement.  We found out he liked and he got that when he followed the class directions, such as, work had to be done before play.  It took  2  very rough days of him being carried out of the room during tantrums , but the third day he got his work finished very easily and got to join the play!  After a couple of months he was taking part in the class activities and even playing with a few of his classmates.  I don't need to tell you , there are a lot of little steps. 

I would also advise you that you need to have a lot of input into the behavior plan.  You know your child's limitations, so urge them to keep his goals reasonable.  My child did not look at the teacher as she taught.  It was too much stimulation for him to look and process at the same time.  He was able to still learn without looking directly at her, so that would not have been a reasonable goal.  We also allowed him to tell me when things became overwhelming and he could go to a quiet room with me until he was ready to return. (classroom parties, visitors, Field Day, etc.)  We had picture cards that showed his daily schedule so he would know what was going to happen, but we had to prepare him ahead of time before class changes or unexpected changes such as a fire drill.  Also, his behavior may be more important at this time than learning.  I know that may be hard to accept, but it may be more realistic.  You might be surprised in the future at how much he is learning even though it doesn't seem like it now.

 

You are so right about his being frustrated because he can't communicate his feelings or even needs.  I hope you have communicated this to his assistant and teachers.  I also hope that the Speech and Language teacher is working with him, she could provide a Language board or other ways for im to communicate.

Stay strong!

Subject: advocate needed
Date Posted: 10/1/2008 2:11 AM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2007
Posts: 11
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It sounds like you really wouldn't mind having him at home, but I think it would be in his best interests  to be at school.  The most important thing you need to do is to find out if you  have an advocacy group  for special needs children near you.  If you take an advocate , who is knowledgeable about the laws, his rights, etc. , you will have an enormous advantage in getting your child what he needs. 

I taught special education for elem. ed children for 30 years .  I had one autistic girl in my class for two years.   Was it frustrating? Yes.  Did I have to learn new techniques and procedures? Yes.  But it was entirely worth it..   I am wagering that your child's teacher doesn't want to do what is required.    She doesn't have that choice, however.  She has to do what is right for your child.  

I taught my autistic student  when she was 7 and 8.  I saw her in a regular high school when she was 16 and she had improved so much.  She still hit children every so often, but her language and behavior had improved.  Her academics was still at a 5 year level.  When I taught her , she also had certain phrases she would say: Stop that!  Way to Go! Get away!, Mine!.  I saw none of that. happening at age 16.

She received a personal aid, language board, moved from a class of 5 mute students to my class of 10 speaking students, plus many more advantages.  This was all done because her mother had an advocate and pushed for what she wanted.   It will be difficult , but it will be so worth it when he is older.

Sincerely, Marci

 

 

Subject: Autism
Date Posted: 10/23/2008 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2007
Posts: 86
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It's important that you know the type of autism that your son has.  Some autistic kids are very bright and some have trouble with school work.  Then you can work out the best placement.  One of the most important elements if self esteem and special activites that your son would enjoy.

Also, where do you live?  Some towns both in New Jersey Long Island have great programs for autistic kids.

Subject: Autism
Date Posted: 11/9/2008 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 2
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I'm really impressed with all of the information shared on this subject.  I am a special education teacher, currently of preschool students.  Two years ago, eight of eleven of my preschoolers were diagnosed with autism - all on different ranges of the spectrum. 

How does your son communicate?  Does he speak, use Picture Exchange Communication System, communication board or something else?  Given my experiences with my former and current students on the spectrum, it is easier to see how these children are more comfortable in their homes and more frustrated in school - most due to communication problems.  I also work as a parent educator so get to see my students in their homes which aids tremendously in planning programs at school for them.

Our speech and language pathologist plays a big part in creating/supporting a communication program.  How active is yours with your son?

Anyone on the IEP team can call a meeting; contact the care coordinator and set up a meeting with all members invited.  My parents know that we are a team created solely for the success of their child and they are the most important people on the team.  I hope you feel that way.  Good luck and keep us informed.

Your son is so lucky that you are his mom.  Please remember to take care of yourself too!!

Marilyn

Date Posted: 11/16/2008 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/6/2005
Posts: 66
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It also depends on how much this fight for his rights is going to do to him. Are the teachers going along with it grudingly? (sp). My son is somewhere on the spectrum. They gave him below grade level work. Tested him 6 months after I did through insurance. They said he was two years behind. Our testing showed he was grade level.  Later on another parent told me her daughter was diagnosised as PDD. I am not sure if that term is even still used. He then told her she had MR. I have heard this from others. Aparently he believes that all children with autism are mentally retarded as well!!   Anyway, I had issues with lunch being loud. I asked them if he could eat elsewhere. They turned this into him being in a self-contained classroom for everything. He was not allowed on field trips.  Things are easier at home mostly. Except I had to deal with him standing up taking two steps and telling me "I am confused what did you ask me to do?". Me telling him "You are NOT confused and heard me quite clearly."  They actually were teaching him to act dumb instead of dealing with him. This was done because they didn't want to deal with his behaviours. Most of which came about do to sensory issues.

K-2 grade was wonderful. It was when he changed schools in the same district that things went downhill. His old teacher could get him to do things over without problems.  He still talks about her now at age 16.

I have a friend whose child is going to another school because he came home with a bruise they could not explain. This was the last straw. The district now pays for him to go somewhere else where he gets the education tailored for him.

Date Posted: 1/5/2009 4:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2005
Posts: 7,143
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I really needed to read this topic. My son is 4 and Autistic as well and in Pre-K. He has a great teacher, but he's not getting what he needs there. I am having to go with him to school because they can't handle him alone. I can't do this forever! I have been looking into homeschooling him as well.

Date Posted: 1/5/2009 6:50 PM ET
Member Since: 3/29/2007
Posts: 1,820
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I teach 11th grade, and I teach autistic kids in an inclusion environment. In fact, one of my Asperberger's students is in AP English (which is not inclusive). The kids I teach are all high-functioning, and they all had early intervention. While homeschooling is a good choice for some kids, I think it's generally not a good idea for autistic kids. (They NEED the social interaction and social training that being around other kids enables.)

Of course, the fact that you are here now asking these questions shows that you're after the best solution for your son, not the easiest. Kudos to you! It's a tough road, but well worth it.

 

Date Posted: 1/8/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 352
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I am a special education aide.  I don't know as much about autism as I would like, but I am willing to go to any training that they will allow me to attend.  I work with 2 autistic children that I dearly love, as frustrating as some days can be.  Having a 1 on 1 aide is the best possible thing I can imagine for your child.  There is someone with our 2 children at all times.  One of the biggest fights we had was that 1 child had 8 different aide throughout the day and I thought he would do better with the same person all day.  In my state if you have an IEP, we are required by law to follow through with it.  Also, you are allowed to go to school with your child to observe what is happening in the classroom.  We can't tell you that you can't come.  Observe your child from the outside of the classroom so that you can see what he is doing and more importantly what they are doing with him.  The only person who needs to be aware that you are in the building is the principal.  Check in at the office and stay where they can't see you but you can see them. 

Subject: Homeschool kids are not home all the time
Date Posted: 3/2/2009 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 7
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I know the original post on this is old, but just in case any other moms check out this topic--I am homeschooling my son who is on the spectrum and he is doing great. At home, he has none of the problems he would have in school.  He is 5 years old and can read books for 3rd graders; can add and subtract; can use the computer and play games on it, and loves anything to do with electronics or physics. He would be bored out of his mind in a normal school, and at the same time, he would be bullied to death because he is very mild-mannered and quiet.

The idea that homeschooled kids are home all the time, and that they never see any other kids, is a myth. We belong to two homeschool groups here on Long Island, with hundreds of familes and kids in them. There is something going on every day of the week: field trips, nature hikes, cooperative learning groups (we're in a science club), sports, 4-H, language classes, music classes, scouts, church groups, cultural events, etc. We actually go out somewhere every single day. He interacts with people of all races, ages, religions, and conditions, ranging from babies, to kids his age, to our 92-year-old friends. He has a much broader socializing experience than he would ever have in a school, sitting only with kids his exact age.

So, if you are curious about homeschooling your special-needs kid, it is definitely a great option. I know other moms of special kids who are very happy homeschooling and who are thrilled that their child now gets individualized teaching that allows him/her to succeed in areas of talent, with special attention and time allowed for subjects that are difficult. for the child. My son, for example, can't write or draw, so at home he can use the computer to type words.

There are many web sites for homeschoolers, and there is a homeschoolers' forum on this site. Check them out, you may be surprised and happy to find that this is a good option for you and your child.

Date Posted: 3/23/2009 4:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 227
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I don't have autistic children, but I have some friends that do and I am part of a homeschool network that includes many parents with children with learning disabilities and with autism.  It's definitely tough at times, but all the moms I know would undoubtably say they do not regret the decision to homeschool one bit.   

Subject: Homeschooling the autistic
Date Posted: 5/2/2009 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2009
Posts: 11
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I don't know where you are located but I would suggest checking for  homeschoolsupport groups in the area .Many have planned play dates or study groups so that the socialization skills can be met. See what they offer.Homeschooling has come a long long way from the non-involvement groups from 20 years ago.

Now their are actual classes that meet in different home like a co-op I can teach english and science you know and teach health and higher math. So look for a homeschool group and see how active it is .Check if anyone else in your area is homeschooling an autisic child and then talk to them.

In alaska they even had special ed assistants for those homeschoolers  who needed extra help,

I won't say go homeschool or go public I will say thouroughly check out the different options in your location . Socialization isn't the primary purpose of school. socialization can come from church ,community activities ,volunteer work ,scouting etc. After all real life is not only made up of our peers there are a multitude of people much older and younger in our every day existence and we need to be able to interact with all of them to be truely social.

Look at the homeschool support groups as carefully as you do the schools and then evaluate what works best for your child and your family.

Date Posted: 5/4/2009 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2006
Posts: 35
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I am a sped aide who has worked one on one with an autistic child.  The child I worked with benchmarked academically and we were able to work through the behavior issues. 

I feel that you need to be polite but firm and be insistant on his and your rights, getting an advocate if necessary.  The child I worked with was even able to mainstream for reading.  It can be done.

 

Date Posted: 5/11/2009 8:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/10/2009
Posts: 1,691
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Last Edited on: 8/10/10 5:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1