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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 11:29 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 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 422
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This is exactly why I pulled my gifted but special needs son out of ps and homeschooled him. It was the best decision we ever made. Easy? No, but the best for him.

Subject: homeschooling special needs
Date Posted: 9/4/2008 8:46 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2007
Posts: 337
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We began homeschooling after many years struggling with the PS.  This is our fourth year and as they are now teens, it is very hard.  I wish we had gone ahead and started homeschooling back when they first began school.  They would have learned so much more and been so much happier.  I feel it is very helpful to be part of a homeschool group though for activities and field trips etc.  So  they have friends who are also being homeschooled.  

The PS does have to provide the education by law and we fought for that for so long, but it was so hard for one of our sons who would have done better at home.  It sounds like yours is similar.  We are part of the schools homeschool assistance program which can be very helpful as it is for us.  Others do not like having any connection with public schools, so whatever works for your situation.

I wish you the best,

LaDonna

Date Posted: 9/4/2008 9:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2007
Posts: 89
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I will echo everything that bookwormhouse said - My son has Aspergers and was in  the gifted program in public school.  He had very few academic problems and was not a behavior problem but beginning in the 3rd grade kids started getting mean and he was bullied and teased- he is just a little different...different enough to be excluded and shunned by some kids.  The school didn't know what to do with him and he was miserable.  Long story short...we are starting our 3rd year of homeschooling and he is now a happy, relaxed kid able to learn in a safe environment suited to his needs. As bookwormhouse said it was the best decision we ever made for our son.

There are tons of homeschool message boards that are specifically for parents with kids on the spectrum -I am a member of several on Yahoo - getting info. from those can help ease your anxiety about homeschooling. 

You usually  have a choice -fighting with the school to get what you think your son needs or pulling him out to homeschool or to go to a different school.  i didn't have the stomach for constantly fighting and waiting for the schools help and we explored private school -too costly for us- so homeschooling was the last choice and it's working really well.

Good Luck

Jane

 

 

 

Date Posted: 9/4/2008 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2008
Posts: 12
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thank you both for your replies. they do have a "program" but it's not working and I can't seem to get them to understand that. I think I have a struggle on my hands with the school system as well but I just want to do whatever is best for him, not me or them.

Date Posted: 9/4/2008 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 422
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Last Edited on: 10/30/08 9:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: homeschooling your autistic child
Date Posted: 9/16/2008 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2008
Posts: 9
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I have an autistic daughter who is now 13 years old.  She is non-verbal, and because of that, her teachers at school thought that, of course, she must not be very smart.  She was a behavior problem at school (which she almost never is at home), and came home very frustrated and upset.  She was being treated as if she couldn't learn at school, and she was so bored she just hated it!  I pulled her out of school about 5 years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did!  I decided that, rather than spend these early years of her education fighting with the school system to provide what they should have been willingly providing anyway, I would spend them providing her with the education she needed and was capable of receiving.  Later, when she doesn't require so much of my time, I will make it my business to find out how to fight for the rights of other autistic kids whose parents can't or won't do it themselves.  Right now, though, Hannah needs me, and we can't ever get these years back.  If you are interested, I can let you know some of the approaches that we have used with Hannah that have been successful for us.  Or you may know what you want to do with your child already.  I really didn't know what to do with her that first year or two that I brought her home, but I knew that almost anything was better than what she was getting at school!  Sorry this post is so long!  Let me know if I can help.

Wendy

Date Posted: 9/16/2008 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2008
Posts: 12
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Thanks, Wendy. Your input is very valuable.

One problem is that we do live in a place that does not have a lot of resources, which to their credit, the school is trying to fix. The teacher told me that she has been trained in Monarch and other programs and she seems to be doind everything hse is supposed to. The problem is that, like your daughter, he's frustrated about something and that's why he acts the way he does. He does not act like that here. Something is bothering him or frustrating him and since he can't tell us what it is, we'll have to try to figure it out. His doctor explained that his behavior is not motivational; the usual ruled of time-out and taking away rewards don't work, because you're not dealing with a usual child. He says, "no!" and "I not!" because he can't say, "Well, mom, I'm frustrated because so-and-so......". He's simply doing the best he can.

Like your daughter, she said he's very intelligent, which makes him easily bored. His teacher has told me that he is so smart he just goes through lesson after lesson, some of his reading is on a 3 - 4th grade level (he's in 1st), but once he gets frustrated about something, he wants to quit. The doctor said that was a high level of perfectionism.  She said he's goin gto have to take breaks (which he does) but he's not going to be to the same level as other kids because he's simply not like other kids. She said figure out what's bothering him when he acts like that. Don't just pass it off as being defiant or wanting attention. He knows the consequences of his actions, he doesn't want time-out or no reward, but at the same time he's still got this thing frustrating him; what else is he supposed to do?

That really put it in perspective for me.

We are also looking in a different area of the state to move, an area where there are resources for him. As you said Wendy, fighting the school would only take time away from my son and that would be even worse.

Thank you!

Date Posted: 9/17/2008 12:52 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2006
Posts: 2,157
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My dd is 15 and lives with Fragile X Syndrome, survived a stroke a birth, and was diagnosed with autsim a few years ago in addition to everything else.  She completed three years of early childhood special ed and then K and First grade with a full-time aide.  We finally pulled her because I couldn't manage the stress of dealling with the district anymore.  She was not making any progress, the environment was way too stimulating for her, and they just wouldn't keep their word and follow the IEP.

Bringing her home has made all the difference.  She has beautiful manners, she has a sight word vocabulary of 100 or so words, she feels good about herself as a learner and as a person.  I know that she is safe.  My hat's off to parents who are willing to fight the district to make them do the right thing, But I'm glad we put the fight away and focused on our daughter. 

Jodi - the bottom line is that none of the people at the school have the committment to your child that you do.  Bringing him home may seem overwhelming, but I bet you'll be amazed at what he can accomplish when he's in a peaceful environment that is focused on his needs!

Subject: question for Theresa
Date Posted: 9/17/2008 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2008
Posts: 9
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What kinds of activities do you do with your daughter at home?  Hannah is 13 and has terrible motor skills, so we spend some time each day working with fine motor skills.  As far as cognitive skills, she is non-verbal but reads very well.  The problem is that she won't (or can't) stay on task, so I have to either read her "school" lessons out loud to her or point to the words as she follows along.  That takes a lot of time, but there really is no other way that I know of to make sure she is getting the information.  Then I use something called the Rapid Prompting Method to check understanding and retention.  In other words, all of that to say that we use "regular" materials for her school work, but I just have to alter the way I teach and test her.  I do use materials that are a couple of grade levels below where she would be in school, though,  If she were in school, she would be considered 8th grade, but I use her brother's 6th grade materials with her.  It saves me money on school materials, and it makes the work a little easier for her to handle.  Many people have said that I should just work on self-help skills and not worry about cognitive material.  I disagree, though, because she seems to really understand and enjoy what she is learning.  If she were to become verbal one day, I don't want her to have no knowledge of academics at all.  Besides, if she enjoys the academics, I think that alone makes it worth taking the time to do.  I am always interested in finding out what other parents who homeschool their autistic children do, though.  There are no other parents in my area who homeschool their autistic children, and I feel like I'm kind of out there on my own. 

Wendy

Date Posted: 9/17/2008 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2006
Posts: 2,157
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Wendy - My dd is not an independant learner either.  We work on her reading with Edmark Sight Word reading program.  (It's amazing how well she's doen with it, the district said she'd never read.  It uses repetition and total communication to teach reading for kids who can't manage phonics.)  We do a lot of craft and cutting, cooking, writing activities to work on fine motor.  We also use some simple math workbooks, a handwriting book (she started with handwriting without tears, but is currently using a book from Borders), and some of the Kumon cutting books.

My daughter has right hemiparesis because of her stroke and has almost no use of her right  hand.  So that means that her non-dominant left hand is her dominant hand.  (Does that make sense? :) She does very well all things considered.  She does have speach and language issues, but is verbal and has great receptive language. 

We do focus a lot on life skills, but I feel strongly that all of her capabilities should be maximized.  If your daughter can perform near grade level - that's wonderful and she should be encouraged to learn as much as possible!!

I think that the biggest benefit for my daughter in being at home is that the environment is quiet and calm.  She just couldn't manage being in a classroom with 20 or more children.  The school wanted her to be medicated, but the medications reduce her seizure threshhold and so were not an option for us.  I probably wouldn't have agreed to the medication anyway.

Are you finding that the academics are taking too much time each day?  Would it lighten your load to drop a subject or two and pick them up later?  We have tried to stick to the basics since everything takes so much more time.  Before our move, we had speach and OT/PT comming in twice a week.  It was great to have someone to brainstorm with and also to give me a break while they worked with her.  Does your daughter have any services?

I just love hearing how well your daughter is doing.  Cheers to you for being willing to take the challenge and give her such a great opportunity!!!