Autism Spectrum Disorder and Homeschool? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-29-2010, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello...we have a five year old son an 2.5 year old dautghter, as well as two teen girls. The older girls wish to stay in public school, and for now, we are ok honoring their wishes. We are planning to homeschool our son next year. Our youngest daughter has ASD and can attend the local special needs preschool next year. She currently attends (with me) a toddler play group at our ISD. She is VERY bright, can recognize all of the alphabet, count to 50ish, draw well, write her name, and probably much more if we spent more time on these things. Her major issues lie in dealing with others and at some point, I expect an Asperger's dx for her. My concern is this, I don't think the preschool will help her reach her academic potiental. I do think it will help with the social issues she has and do believe the toddler group has already helped a ton. I've discussed these concerns with her current teachers and they all believe she needs to be in the preschool program, of course, and that they will be able to challenge her in all areas. I don't know that I should even be concerned with her academics at this age but she LOVES writing, drawing, being read to, ect. Any thoughts or anyone have a similar situation? Sorry for the super paragraph, my enter key died, lol.
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#2 of 13 Old 04-29-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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I had a similar situation when my ds was 3yo. I wasn't really so much concerned with them challenging him as much as I WAS concerned about:

1) them not squashing his love of learning by forcing him to do work that was below his level simply as a means of teaching him how to follow directions (with the mindset that: because he already knew how to do those things, the frustration level would be with following the directions vs. following directions AND completing the task)

2) their ability to direct his interpersonal development. By this, I really meant: are they truly going to be able to supervise and mentor his relational skills in that setting better than I could do as a homeschooling mother? Who's going to be responsible for this in the classroom? A teacher with training specific to my kid's needs? Or the aide assigned to him who has a high school diploma and MAYBE some specialized training (if at all)?

It really came down to seeing the classroom in session first-hand. I'll be honest: I ADORED the preschool disabled teacher my son would've been with. She believed in all the same literature that I did--had studied much of the theories I was most supportive of. She was really good with the kids.

But at the end of the day, the classroom setting wasn't going to be a good fit for my son. At the time, he had more oppositional behavior than he does now. In a school setting, there was absolutely no way they would legally be able to work him through that in ways that were going to produce the results that I wanted for my child. They wouldn't be allowed to hug and rock him until he calmed down from a rage. They wouldn't know him well enough to understand when it was okay for him to be upset for any length of time (at least not till mid-year). These were very big deals. And with no real way to redirect him into compliance (he had no real "currency" for praise and frankly, I'm not "for" the whole "If you do this, you can do/have that" mentality anyway) I just felt that it was a recipe for him seeing the classroom as a place of no real consequences for poor behavior... and that becoming the mentality about school.

Instead, we tried two different private schools--moving mid-year when the first didn't work out. Neither was a good fit.

The following year (what would've been his pre-K year) we kept him home. I dreaded it given his behavior issues; but ultimately it was the best thing ever. I was able to supervise and mentor his relational skills in a way that made so much more progress. Of course, I also made a serious effort to have him out and about a lot. About halfway through that year, the behavior started to level off and things were really good.

He just turned 6yo and would be in Kindy, but he's home and really doing so much better than I could've imagined. His PDD-NOS dx was lifted in the fall and we are finishing up our services with the district (I take him to the school for this 4x/week for 30mins each--currently just OT) and then we're done.

For US, it was the best decision. The people that gave me crap about him needing the socialization are baffled when I explain that children like my son truly needed more help with socialization--help that *I* could give him by being there all the time. I didn't intervene, but I was there. I saw what happened first-hand vs. what the teacher managed to catch and/or he remembered from the day. I was able to work him through it right after it happened while it was fresh in his mind (and heart). Sometimes I was able to work him through it while it happened (although this was rare). And I was always modeling behaviors for him... when we were at stores, the library, at group activities. He really couldn't have had better social skills training and he couldn't have had it more intensively. Furthermore, it was social skills training that I knew I was in line with, because *I* was giving it to him.

Again, this was what was best for MY kid. And he WAS in a classroom setting until his pre-k year. But my child was becoming the "problem child" and THAT was also something I didn't want to stick.

I'm not sure this helps you at all... but there were no responses, so I thought I'd share.


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#3 of 13 Old 04-29-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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I googled autism homeschooling socialization. Came up with a lot of hits. This one has a LONG comment from a mom who homeschools her autistic child: http://community.babycenter.com/post...ds_with_autism...

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#4 of 13 Old 04-29-2010, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I share many of your concerns. I had not even considered the idea that hugging/rocking/squishies may not be allowed! That is an absolute must to get through her day and her current teachers DO do those things with her. I will be asking about that next week. Will check out the link you provided. Thanks again
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#5 of 13 Old 04-29-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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QUOTE: For US, it was the best decision. The people that gave me crap about him needing the socialization are baffled when I explain that children like my son truly needed more help with socialization--help that *I* could give him by being there all the time. I didn't intervene, but I was there. I saw what happened first-hand vs. what the teacher managed to catch and/or he remembered from the day. I was able to work him through it right after it happened while it was fresh in his mind (and heart). Sometimes I was able to work him through it while it happened (although this was rare). And I was always modeling behaviors for him... when we were at stores, the library, at group activities. He really couldn't have had better social skills training and he couldn't have had it more intensively. Furthermore, it was social skills training that I knew I was in line with, because *I* was giving it to him.

that

My 5yo dd is not dx with anything, nor have I ever asked a professional, FTR. She is very "smart", and very "ahead" of her peers, extremely verbal (first word at 3mo), but yet lacks the ability to converse well and say what she means. She is at a loss in social situations. The key for her has been for me to explicitly guide her through every scenerio. I tell her things she can say, and what will happen here or there, and she files the information away like a list. (She memorizes children's books with only one or two readings.) Her whole world is very, very black and white, and very much an exact list. I know kids are literal, but this is different. It's extreme, limiting, and confusing for her. As she gets older, and the more scenerios I am able to present to her, and guide her through, the longer her "lists" are of what to expect and how to handle it. She does not pick up on social cues...she must be taught every.single.one.

There's no way that anyone with a classroom of children could help her the way she needs. She would spend a lot of time very confused, and I don't want that for her. Also, when she starts to get confused, she shuts down. It hampers her self-esteem drastically, and she can't think straight at all. I'm fairly confident that she would have to work really hard at school. She doesn't have to at all at home, and, like I said, is about 2 grade levels ahead of where she "needs" to be.

Another thing I really thought about is *how" I wanted her to be "socialized". (I hate the word used like that...it sounds like what you do with a puppy to keep them from being agressive...) Anyway, I'm not raising my child to be a child. I don't need her to interact correctly with other children. I'm raising my child to function in an adult world. Her quirky maturity, and her needs fit much better there anyway. Sure, she has time with other kids, and I help her navigate those situations, but I'm much more concerned with her relational skills with adults. Those are the ones that truly matter in the long run.

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#6 of 13 Old 04-30-2010, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 5yo dd is not dx with anything, nor have I ever asked a professional, FTR. She is very "smart", and very "ahead" of her peers, extremely verbal (first word at 3mo), but yet lacks the ability to converse well and say what she means. She is at a loss in social situations. The key for her has been for me to explicitly guide her through every scenerio. I tell her things she can say, and what will happen here or there, and she files the information away like a list. (She memorizes children's books with only one or two readings.) Her whole world is very, very black and white, and very much an exact list. I know kids are literal, but this is different. It's extreme, limiting, and confusing for her. As she gets older, and the more scenerios I am able to present to her, and guide her through, the longer her "lists" are of what to expect and how to handle it. She does not pick up on social cues...she must be taught every.single.one.

There's no way that anyone with a classroom of children could help her the way she needs. She would spend a lot of time very confused, and I don't want that for her. Also, when she starts to get confused, she shuts down. It hampers her self-esteem drastically, and she can't think straight at all. I'm fairly confident that she would have to work really hard at school. She doesn't have to at all at home, and, like I said, is about 2 grade levels ahead of where she "needs" to be.

Another thing I really thought about is *how" I wanted her to be "socialized". (I hate the word used like that...it sounds like what you do with a puppy to keep them from being agressive...) Anyway, I'm not raising my child to be a child. I don't need her to interact correctly with other children. I'm raising my child to function in an adult world. Her quirky maturity, and her needs fit much better there anyway. Sure, she has time with other kids, and I help her navigate those situations, but I'm much more concerned with her relational skills with adults. Those are the ones that truly matter in the long run.[/QUOTE]


Thank you, thank you, thank you. FWIW, two speech therapists whom I adore, trust and love and have worked with my dd for over a year have repeated EXACTLY what you said about filing information away. Ava also memorizes books in one read. We constantly give her phrases and words to say. "You could say...." is something I repeat dozens of times a day it seems. Ava too, is learning, and tries SO hard but is also at a total loss when it comes to social cues. I think what's so hard for me is that she WANTS to fit in. She does try to intergrate herself into my son's class when we take him to school. Yet it's impossible for her to maintain eye contact with the other kids and her tremor, unrelated to ASD, becomes worse. She's also violent. So much so that one "expert" said she was too violent to be on the spectrum. If fight or flight kicks in, it's always fight. Fear in her nearly always means someone's getting hit, frequently that someone can also be her. She bangs her head, scratches herself, and has siezures that appear to be GIANT tantrums. However, you can actually see and feel the fear in her and her irrational attempts to self soothe during these times speak volumes. She frequently breaks out into screaming versions of songs in the middle of begging me to help her. It's not something I ever want to have happen outside of my presence, and is one of my MAJOR fears with allowing her to go to school. As for the "socialization" issue, for us it IS an issue. I hate even admitting this but having Ava has limited and reduced our family activities a great deal and it is adversely affecting our other children. One of my teens just returned home from a ten day stay at a psychiatric facility. While I won't pin ALL of her issues on problems surrounding Ava, they factor in, a lot. We have had to stop going to church becuase even with me in the nursery with Ava and even with a million reassurances that everyone understands, I can't do it. Ava did very well at a play place last weekend for a birthday party, so I do think going to school twice a week is helping but I'm with her and the adult/toddler ratio is 3:1. Two each OTs, PTs and STs plus a parent aide and social worker and a parent per child and there are only 4 kids in her group. We also set her up her own space to escape to at the back of the party room and my 16 year old followed her through the playscape and rocked her and did joint compressions on the spot as needed. I guess I am doing a lot of thinking outloud, lol. Sorry. DH is in Afghanistan and while he supports me 100% in homeschooling, I really want to make sure we are making the right decision for Ava and we don't get to have long conversations about it, or anything else. Thanks again, I'm so glad I posted about this. I feel so much better about homeschooling her and not cheating her out of anything because of her special needs.
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#7 of 13 Old 04-30-2010, 01:32 AM
 
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I have a Dd with high functioning, atypical autism (PDD-NOS) who is 13. She was homeschooled for most of her life, currently attends a traditional public school under a 504 plan, and will attend a private alternative school next year. There aren't any easy answers.

My advice:

1. take it one year at a time and figure out what your best option is for that year. Your DD is 2. Don't try to decide "about homeschooling." Just think through what is in her best interest for this next year. Personally, I don't think preschool is for academics, and unless you are considering "boarding" preschool, you'll still have a lot of time with her.

2. Your options aren't the same as anybody else's. The support in your area for homeschooling, the exact program you are considering, the amount of friend and family support you have, and options you may have that you haven't consider aren't the same as any body else's.

3. In deciding what to do, figure out when you are going to take care of yourself, your marriage, and your other children. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

4. If you are going to homeschool, create a paper trail for your child. You never really know when something will happen, and getting an eval can take months and months. Keep your records up to date. This is sort of like buying life insurance. It's something you do for the sake of your child *just in case.*

5. Don't try to be everything to your child. Enlist the help of therapists, friends, social skill classes, etc.

6. Make the best decisions you can based on the information you have, but then try not to second guess yourself too much. There's no way to really know which would have been best. My DD is VERY high functioning, often when people first meet her they don't notice that she has autism. But I'll never really know if she would be doing better or worse if I had done things differently.

I don't know if she does so well because I got so many things right, or if she stills struggles with some very basic things because of choices that I should have made differently.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 13 Old 04-30-2010, 02:12 AM
 
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I have to agree with Linda on the move. I didn't try to be my son's whole world. I WAS, however, very careful about where we went, what he did and what kinds of things I enrolled him in.

And all those activities documented in the last social eval for his IEP (where they interview the parents about family life). That woman was clearly supportive and she was the one who was pulling it out of me (I didn't think it was relevant!) so that it was clear that my son was getting social exposure.

Also agree that it's hard not to burn out... especially if you wind up with life situations that pile more on your plate than homeschooling. Such is my life for the last 10 months. It. has. been. hell.

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#10 of 13 Old 04-30-2010, 12:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post
But my child was becoming the "problem child" and THAT was also something I didn't want to stick.
This is where we are right now. Ds1 has been in several preschools, and found his "best" fit in a Montessori classroom. He was there for preschool last year, and Kinder this year.

In deciding what's best for him for first grade - Montessori no longer being an option - we have decided to homeschool.

He's bright, and sweet, and also disruptive and manipulative, and has huge struggles socially. When it comes down to it, we knew that him being in a classroom all day was going to be a problem for him. He needs to move around a lot, he needs to be able to work alone, he needs a lot of direction, he needs to have no noise/chaos. That's not something I see him getting in a public school classroom. So we'll homeschool.

Our plan is what a previous poster suggested - we are taking it one year at a time. Right now, where he is socially and emotionally, homeschool is our best option. And we will constantly re-evaluate.

My biggest concern is dealing with the oppositional behavior with no breaks. But I'm hoping to find a good local hs group to offer some support.

Good luck!!!

Jess
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#11 of 13 Old 04-30-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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My dh just got back from Afghanistan in December. Our communication was pretty sparse, too. The longest we went without contact was a month this time. It's tough to make big decisions on your own, and to explain what's going on with everyone and everything AND still keep your relationship strong in a 15-30 minutes, every-other-week-at-the-most-phone call.

I second the suggestions to only think about the now. Sure, you have to factor in where you are headed, and what your long-term goals are, but just make a plan for 6 months or a year, and then re-evaluate. You don't have to live all your tomorrows today.

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#12 of 13 Old 05-02-2010, 04:41 PM
 
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We are in a similar place. My son will be 5 next weekend. He's always been ahead of his peers academically, seeming to soak up "book learning" without any effort. On the other hand, he has been very delayed in other ways. He was VERY late potty training, his OT says his fine motor skills are at about a 2 1/2-3 year old level, he still engages in mostly scripted paralell play. He clearly doesn't understand social cues.
His current diagnoses are ADHD (which I agree with, btw,) and motor delays. The developmental pedi won't diagnose him with anything else officially at this point, since he is apparently pretty high functioning, and still pretty young. Unofficially, the drs have discussed the possibility of PDD or Aspergers, (which I think is likely.)
We have always intended to homeschool, even before we had children, mainly for the purpose of letting the kids pursue their own interests, and enjoy the process. We are now homeschooling him with other issues in mind, mainly that he is at once too advanced for and too delayed for any program the school has to offer him.
At home, we're able to break when he needs to, structure things around his "good" times of the day, focus on what he's good at, and try to help him process things as they happen. Even the best teacher would have a difficult time doing those things, because of the other demands on her time, (ie, other children.)
It has it's downsides. As someone else mentioned, dealing with the difficult, oppositional behavior day in and day can be maddening. I very rarely get a real break. I also have a pretty demanding toddler to care for, and it usually feels like I'm trying to run in 2 different directions. I fall into bed at night mentally and physically exhausted.
For us it's worth it. I feel like homeschooling is the best thing for my son. We'll continue to do it as long as it seems to be the right thing for him. If that changes, we'll reevaluate.
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#13 of 13 Old 05-02-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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There is so much material here you can do at home with your daughter. I love the SuperFlex series http://www.socialthinking.com/
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