unschooling special needs? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 01-19-2003, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone!

We live in Maryland and we're in the middle of IEP testing with our second child, Jonathan, age 8, who is autistic.

So far, we've only heard good things from the elementary school where he's being tested, and they have to have all of these 'tests' completed by the end of next month, and then we sit down for the formal IEP meeting.

Does anyone homeschool/unschool with an IEP? What exactly will be expected of us? Will they want to review his schoolwork? (We review once a year with an umbrella group right now) What about unschooling? How would that work with an IEP?

According to what they've told us, so far he's testing average for his grade level academically, so we must be doing something right as far as the unschooling goes!! We read a lot and use math manipulatives every once in awhile, but that's pretty much it as far as our 'school day' goes. Will we be able to continue this with an IEP?

Thanks in advance!!!
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#2 of 4 Old 01-19-2003, 06:43 PM
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Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. I think that you are going to have to get info specific to Maryland. I did a quick search and found this web site, which appears to have lots of links and may be able to help you.

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#3 of 4 Old 01-19-2003, 07:17 PM
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Hi ap mom,
I am unschooling my son who has Asperger's Syndrome. Linda is right, it all depends what your state laws are and how you choose to comply with them. We are in the process of signing up with a public homeschooling charter school and will have to go through all of this as well, but the wait is longer than I thought it would be.(we have gone through the process before though for preschool) This particular charter has been friendly to unschoolers, and I think that we CAN make it work for everyone, but once we get in (especially with the recent budget cuts) it may not.

I just took a look at your state laws for Maryland, and I hate to say it, but it does NOT look unschooler friendly.
That is not to say that that it can't be done- but you will definately need to learn to speak educationalese.
You may simply be able to write a parents addendum, to the IEP that since your son has tested within the average range in his academic areas, you want his education to focus on self help and social skills. (which is reasonable) They can't ask to see a portfolio more than 3 times a year by your state laws, but they may require that 3 times to feel satisfied.

Writing a good IEP is a whole other kettle of fish- remember that you don't write goals for areas where he is not behind (so don't let them put academic goals in it- hee hee) and that the goals drive what services he will receive. If you want him to get OT for sensory issues then you wil lneed to write sensory goals, if you want him to get speech you should have language goals, etc.

Good luck and feel free to pm me
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#4 of 4 Old 01-27-2003, 11:00 PM
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Hi Kelly,

I am an OT who has worked in schools in both California and Wyoming. I don't know the laws in Maryland specifically, but I can tell you a little bit about the IEP process. IEP are developped to address the needs of special education students. For one thing, in both states that I've worked, if your child is performing in the average range for skills required for his education, he would NOT qualify for special ed. therefore for an IEP. So you may have nothing to worry about if he is performing average on the testing. Also, I want you to know that YOU as a parent, are also a vital part of the IEP process. Make sure that you go there prepared with questions and also with your own goals. What do you want Matthew to be able to achieve in a year? Your goals can be academic, social (behaviour), self-help (can he dress himself?..) gross motor, fine motor etc.. If Matthew has difficulty dealing with sensory information (loud noise, tactile defensiveness...) or has difficulty with using his fine motor skills to write or cut or tie his shoe laces, or difficulty with his gross motor skills (coordination), he might qualify for Occupational Therapy. If he has problem with his speech, he might qualify for Speech Therapy. I know that I have provided services to home schooled children in California through the school district for which I worked. The parent came to see me at the school on a weekly basis for therapy and I designed a program with the parents for them to implement at home. If your IEP team is a good team, they will work with you to help you achieve the goals that you have set for your son. Unfortunately, I know that sometimes school personnel can be very judgemental and feel that THEIR goals are the best ones, and not listen to the parents. But if you go to the IEP mtg informed of your rights, you have a better chance to have an IEP that meets your goals for your child.

Also, I want to warn you that sometimes school professionals, can be very negative when discribing your child. They will mostly list what your child CAN'T do as opposed to what your child CAN do. Here is a suggestion that a parent once did at an IEP mtg: the mom brought in a list of positive things that her child could do. From there she told us what she wanted her child to accomplish next. She never said that her child couldn't do certain things, only what she could do, and what her next goals were. It was great!

Good luck with the meeting. Let us know how it turns out!
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