Homeschooling kids with Asperger's? - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > Homeschooling kids with Asperger's?
eilonwy's Avatar eilonwy 10:26 PM 02-27-2006
This afternoon I had a long discussion with my mother about pulling my nice, ChibiChibi, out of school again. She had been seriously considering pulling her out again for next year (I homeschooled her last year ) anyway, because things are not going well. My mother wanted to know if I'd be able to handle homeschooling her sister, BeastieBeast, as well (because she'd feel bad pulling one out without the other for several reasons). BeastieBeast has Asperger's, and she's a challenge at the best of times, but I'm willing to take her on. I love her to bits, she's a really wonderful kid. I'm looking for resources, information, support, and ideas for home educating elementary-school-aged children with Asperger's, autistic spectrum disorders, and SID in particular. Any thoughts? Have any particular programs worked for you? BeastieBeast will be 6 this summer; her sister is nearly 9, and I've got a 3 year old and 20 month old and will be having #3 (B"H) in a few more weeks, so I won't necessarily have tons of time and energy to devote exclusively to her.

Altair's Avatar Altair 10:43 PM 02-27-2006
I teach kids with asperger's in school-- but I do really believe in homeschooling as well and can see how the majority of thigns we do to help them could be used at home. here's some suggestions:

- keep more of a routine than you are used to perhaps, at least at first. it's easier to START with a routine with ASD kids and wean them off of it, rather than trying to wing it without one. Is she literate/hyper-lexic? I'd make her out a schedule with words and pictures that she can check off as she goes. A lot of AS kids love this.

-keep your "socialization" explicit and explained. Don't let anything social go un-explained... in other words, while other kids can pick up social cues through modeling and just absorbing, she'll need concrete explanations for things you think are obvious. "Other people don't like it if we kick the table while we work. It keeps them from concentrating on what they want to do. if you want to kick the table, you can move to another table. Or, you can stay here and I'll give you something to play with in your hands while you work."

- in light of that, AS kids work well with 2 choices, i've found... both choices being things you all can live with. "It's not ok to grab the dog's tail. you can pet the dog or you can kiss the dog." (probably again) "here are your choices. you can pet the dog, or kiss the dog, which would you like to do?" I know this seems obvious for people who have used GD with toddlers/pre-schoolers... but in some ways you have to revert back to toddler level frustration tolerance issues with AS kids.

- build sensory work into your learning, make tactile/movement/visual means a primary focus of your academic work. when intorducing a new topic.. start with DOING it, then feeling it, then seeing it, then writing it... in level of abstration.

-create a break area in your house with sensory inputs. put a bunch of bean bags and blankets and pillows in a corner and allow any kid to say "i need a break!" and take a few minutes in there. if you need to get a certain amount of work done (if you're not unschooling) you can put a slight limit on the break... "do you need a break honey? alright, go to the break area and set the timer (etc)" some kids like that concrete aspect, some don't! if you see her anxiety levels rising or see her frustration limits being reached, try either offering her a choice or asking her if she wants a break. if she really explodes, gently lead her to the break area so she can use the sensory input there to calm down while you talk to her. again, concrete language, reflect back her feelings, and give 2 choices.

-build sensory experiences into the day so she has a sensory diet throughout the day-- hard clay at some point, jumping/swinging, ball pits (easy to make on your own), hand figits, etc.

- be very proactive throughout the day. dealing with AS is prevention, and then slowly weaning off of prevention/controled environments.

-create social stories for situations she can't handle regularly.

-play RDI ( games regularly. generally, encourage her to have to LOOK at you to figure out what's going on. sometimes i'll stop talking and just act silly using my body to make my point. or make a silly face in the middle of saying something serious to see who catches it. or insert a nonsense word into a sentence. "I went to the furgetty store today and boy the line was long..." to get her to reference you. make experience sharing and laughing together and looking at each other a focus. RDI is so much fun b/c the goal is to create a REAL reciprocal relationship, not just teaching an AS kids how to "act" socially normal... which is the focus of most AS "treatments."

What are HER specific issues? i tried to give an overview of common issues, but chances are she doesn't have all of them. if you tell me what her needs are, I can brainstorm for you.

One thing i can say upfront-- teaching AS kids is HARD but really, REALLY fun.
frogguruami's Avatar frogguruami 10:59 PM 02-27-2006
I have an Aspie! He is 5 and isn't technically suppossed to start school until next year. I pulled his brother out of PS this year and figured I would just start them both and see what happened. Kyllian (my Aspie) was in preschool and it went horribly wrong. They all but asked us to withdrawl him. I always said there was no way I could HS him because of his behavior problems. Boy did I prove myself wrong.

The best thing about HSing with problems like HFA and SID is when they get overwhelmed or over stimulated you can stop, let them go run outside, decompress and then start again later on in the day. Also, you are able to let them excel in the subject they are good at (it is Math for Kyllian). No need to hold them back or give them busy work to keep them on par with the rest of the class.

HS also offers the opportunity to specifically address the social problems that arise AS they arise. It is easier for anyone (especially someone with HFA or SID) to learn something the right way the FIRST time instead of having to unlearn and relearn. If you are able to guide them and help them establish the correct social "rules" the first time around they will be better equiped to handle those social situations the next time.

And when they are having a "bad day" you can skip school and make it up on a "good day". HSing takes the pressure off to "keep up" with everyone else. Many Aspie kids also benefit from doing school year round. A little everyday works well. No need to upset a pattern or routine just because summer is here. My son has an awful time when his routine is disturbed.

As far as curriculum goes. I look for things that have few if any colors and pictures. I find they cause more distraction than anything else. My son is still young and the only curriculum I have bought so far is math. We use Math U See. I do not use the blocks that are sold with it because they distract him and his OCD kicks in overtime (Heavens forbid one of those silly blocks not line up perfectly: ) and I didn't get the DVD so he doesn't know what he is missing. I figure at some point I will have to introduce them but I am holding off. My older son uses Spelling Power (the orange book) and I will use that with Kyllian also (No colors or pictures, just words).

I have also learned not to be a stickler on the sequence of things. My son does everything the "wrong way". Any grade school teacher would freak if they saw how he writes his letters. My theory is...If I can read it I don't care how he writes it. Aspie kids do things in their own way. I have learned to embrace this and go with it. Life is alot easier that way.

boysrus's Avatar boysrus 11:10 PM 02-27-2006
My guy is 9, and has always been homeschooled. We do the opposite of what most people do. We totally unschool and dont impose much of a routine on him. We give him lots of space and tons of access to free time and materials of his obsession. There will be weeks when we barely see him except at meals, and then he will pop out, totally ready to engage in the family
simple living mama's Avatar simple living mama 11:19 PM 02-27-2006
The best article I've read so far having to do with Aspergers and homeschooling is by Anne E. Ohman and it called, I AM WHAT I AM Check it out. I think you will like it.
Altair's Avatar Altair 11:29 PM 02-27-2006
I think another thing to get clear with yourself and her parents: what are your goals?

if your goals are mainly academic, there are ways to help AS kids learn based on how THEY learn best.

if your goals are teaching appropriate social behavior... well, you do it.

if your goal is to create relationships and teacher her how to navigate them, you can do it.

you can do any of these things in a fun way. but you might not want to do all of them if that's not your goal.

kwim? people do things very differently based on their goals, you know?

I REALLY agree with the PPs about how homeschooling is great in that you can take breaks and take advantage of times the child is WANTING to work the most.
eilonwy's Avatar eilonwy 12:22 AM 02-28-2006
Wow, those are some great suggestions!

A bit more about BizzyBug:

She is both literate and hyperlexic; that is, she reads and comprehends at about a first grade (end of year) level, but is capable of reading well beyond that with limited/no understanding. She's been reading for at least a year and a half now, but has only developed comprehension within the past six months or so.

BizzyBug definately needs a routine, all the time. She does best when everything is scheduled and followed meticulously, and completely freaks out at any changes. Transitions of any kind are extremely difficult, even if she knows that they're coming. For example, last weekend my kids slept over at her house. When I was getting them ready to leave, all went well right up until BizzyBug realized what was going on; at that point, she threw an absolute tantrum. You'd have thought that I was cutting her arms off! She sees her cousins at least once a week, and she knew that they were coming back in 2 days and she'd see them again, but the transition involved in my kids leaving was just overwhelming for her.

I'm not a big fan of imposing routines or schedules on children, but I recently learned that my own children are much happier with a regular schedule, so I've been working very hard to keep them running "on time," as it were. This has been exceptionally difficult over the past few months, but (God Willing!) things should clear up in the near future and I'll be able to buckle down with it again.

I do have a hard time explaining social issues; this likely stems from the fact that my son is more socially adept than I am. BeanBean has explained such things to BizzyBug in the past (in terms of development, BeanBean and BizzyBug are about equal in most ways), and he seems to do a better job of that than anyone else, with the possible exception of ChibiChibi (BizzyBug's older sister).

As to "academic" goals, I have absolutely no idea whether or not my sister has any, but I suspect not. If I succeed in convincing her that pulling the girls out of school is in their best interests, I strongly suspect that I will be the person responsible for coming up with any such goals, as well as devising an appropriate program for each child. That's not a bad thing. For BizzyBug, my own goals would include greater reading comprehension, more work on physical/occupational issues related to SID (she's been having some major problems, like putting too much food in her mouth and then getting upset when she can't chew it all at once), improved social understanding/empathy (she still has a difficult time interpreting facial expressions, as well as general body language), and time management (taking breaks when she needs them, rather than becoming overwhelmed and having a negative reaction/breakdown).

Those goals are much more important to achieve (in my mind) than any academic skills which she needs to acquire/improve; I mean, who'll care if she knows her multiplication tables if she doesn't understand that the baby's crying because she's hugging too tightly, you know? I could certainly come up with academic goals after I've thoroughly assessed her skills, but the other stuff is, in my mind, much more important to deal with, at least initially.
Altair's Avatar Altair 01:07 AM 02-28-2006
there's so many things you can do for the frustration tolerance and explosions. it's REALLY something you can see improvement with, with consistency. it's a lot of work breaking through it, and you just have to be calm and steady in the meantime and not get upset when they happen. it's like a constant balancing act between preventing problems and teaching her how to manage unexpected things. OT and SID work can really work here... but it's a BIG undertaking, remember.

in terms of academics... it's normal for AS kids to have extreme strengths and extreme weaknesses. comprehension is a BIG issue (esp in terms of fiction/narrative stories) because they don't understand the PEOPLE reactions and interactions within the stories. as they start to understand social cues/relationships more, and what motivates people to want to interact with each other, comprehension gets a little easier. non-fiction is usually no problem in terms of comprehension...

funny story, a little 5 year old in one of my K classes, upon seeing my 1970s time Life Index (a book listing page numbers of topics found in the 30 other Time Life books)...

"Oh my goodness! I've never SEEN a book like that before! I've never even IMAGINED such a book could exist! I MUST have it!"

needless to say, this boy will do ANY academics if he knows he has full access to this book right after. he loves the routine of doing his work, reading his choice book.

you hit on a big point in your post-- teaching her how to recognize the WARNING signs of an explosion before it happens. first, YOU need to watch her and ID the pre-signs... then you need to teach her how her body feels during those pre-signs. teach her through social stories and role playing how she can decide to take a break, decide to do a calming activity, etc, in that time.
SandyBeachBums's Avatar SandyBeachBums 04:19 AM 02-28-2006
Did you know there is a book? I've been reading it this week and it's really helpful.

It talks about different types of homeschooling, too.
Doulaluna's Avatar Doulaluna 04:42 AM 02-28-2006
We homeschool my DS who is a 9 yr old Aspie. We have really practically forgotten about his dx while in the home environment. He needed the dx to cope with ps when he was in it, but he needs it less in a less intense and less stressful place. He likes some structure, but needs to feel like he has time to pursue his interests or he starts to feel out of sorts (which can lead to melt downs). We do a combination of classes outside the house and a loosly followed curriculum in the house.

The classes he takes he LOVES and they give him both the social practice he needs in a smaller, lower stress classroom. He takes art (which is a new found love of his, up til now, we couldn't get him to even do craftie type art, let alone draw or paint), karate (which he LOVES and is giving him sensory stimulation as well as learning to control his body more), science and social studies (which is led by a homeschool club once a week and has a small class size that works well for him), a Lego Club (a great interest), and his socialization group (once a week for the last three years). It may seem like a lot of classes, but it helps us to provide a structure that is absolutely preditictable and lets the rest of our structure be looser. He also doesn't find it stressfull since each class is only once (karate is twice) a week and he has plenty of time for everything he would like to do outside of these classes. He wouldn't trade any of them in for anything, which is good too.

I find that the socialization of these classes is great too. He has made a couple of very close friends (something that never happened in PS). He can handle being in classes, just not large ones and not every day for hours at a time. He doesn't have to socialize with 30 kids all at the same time in class and then a hundred or more at recess.

At home we try to have a more relaxed pace. We spend time on math, cursive (we do cursive because it's actually easier for him), cooking, music lessons, reading and projects (He wanted to create a book of myths that has a craft or recipe at the end of each myth. Nutrition and health project since he's really into cooking right now. And we've been growing seeds from our kitchen (beans, rice, popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds) and watching and taking care of them as they grow). We have some of these things at a structured time, but alot of them come when they come with lots of breaks and time for being sidetracked. When he's done with working on "school" stuff, then he has free time for whatever else he wants to do. We are usually done with our day at the same time as the ps kids are, but we've spent alot more time goofing off, hanging out and spending time together or with friends.

I also have to make time for my DD who is 2 1/2 right now and still needs me to direct and help and guide her.

It is a lot of work, but it is sooo worth it. It sounds like it would be hard for you with 5 kids, but if you feel like you can manage it, I am sure all the kids would benefit from you being with them a great deal. I would make sure that you get help. It's HARD sometimes to work with kids who have such sensitive temperments, let alone with 4 more kids on top of that one. Schedule as much you time as you feasibly can so you can remain centered. Even if it's only quiet bath time or time to read alone in your room at night when the kids are all tucked in. But time just for you and about you. And like I said, get help when it's available to you.

Good luck!!!!

Mama to DS, Shay 9 and DD Indigo 2 1/2 going on 12!!!

littlest birds's Avatar littlest birds 05:12 AM 02-28-2006
We are considering homeschooling again next year with our 6yos. They have been in public school kindergarten this year. (We hs'd our 11yo for several years)...

I don't know--my son really likes school--but he is just sort of floating along and missing the point of so much of it. I mean, at home he talks about how many thousand make a million and things of that sort--for many months he was fascinated by phonics rules and letters (before going to school) but his school papers are barely started, or he completely misinterprets the instructions, or something... (Maybe I should be helping him more at home with those things, IDK.)

For me, he is very hard to be with many hours of the day. I guess he has serious issues with attention span for normal interaction as part of his Asperger's. Sometimes I am lucky if he can remember one simple instruction even after he has told me what he is going to do himself. He goes to the bathroom to wash his hands and forgets to wash his hands, almost every single day... even though he wants to eat his meal and does not wish us to start without him. He gets into things as persistently a toddler, waits for me to turn my back and then squirts the caulk gun out on the floor--not once or twice but about eight times recently. He makes promises to never do this again *every* *single* *time*. It drives me Nuts, IYKWIM.

Well, I really doubt my sanity in considering HS again, and I think he gets some good things out of being in school, but I fear he will be lost in that place and it will get worse as he gets older.

And I miss being at home and "owning" our time as a family.

I don't know if I am a good enough mom with energy and patience enough for ds's nonstop need for direction and redirection and boundary-marking on and on and on.

I don't believe homeschooling is always best, and I do have an appreciation for some things my kids get to do at school, but I always feel nagged at by all the little problems of "schooling" as it is practiced in ps and the pressure sort of builds up over time to quite a large frustration.

I have been lurking here but probably foolishly for a couple of weeks...

But howdy. It's good to peek in on this conversation and will you remind me of that book title? I heard of it a while back but never looked into it.
MistyMM's Avatar MistyMM 03:04 PM 02-28-2006
My son is a 4.75 year old aspie/SID kid. My husband is also aspie/SID as is my bil. We keep a basica routine with tommy, but we also try to unschool him as much as possible. Putting him in public school is absolutely out of the question, he would be labeled a trouble kid and never learn anything. He's actually brilliant, and is hyperlexic with minimal reading comprehension. We DO instead of using textbooks etc. It also helps his sensory issues, to really be exposed to all sorts of sensory things, instead of just being in front of a book and pencil and paper all day.

momofcutie's Avatar momofcutie 02:33 AM 03-14-2006
I'm interested in this too, so...BUMP!
Lillian J's Avatar Lillian J 02:49 AM 03-14-2006
There's a book by the homeschool mom of an asperger's son - Homeschooling the Child with ADD or Other Special Needs: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the Child with Learning Differences. There's a section on her website called Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Personality Disorder, and it has links to email lists and other resources, including two other books on the subject. Lillian
momofcutie's Avatar momofcutie 03:46 AM 03-14-2006
Wow, thanks!

(Hey, this is my 100th post!)
momofsixkiddos's Avatar momofsixkiddos 03:35 PM 03-22-2006
This is more of a post than a reply. WOW! I have been searching online for months and months for a site like this! I am in need of help. I have a 10yo son who has been diagnosed recently with PDD/ASD and we are at odds with each other. For years he and I have gone head to head. He has always been "different", and quite a puzzle to us, but I always thought that he was just being stubborn, selfish, out of control and plain mean......I never thought that a disorder like this existed and could be lending to his issues (DUH on my part). The reason this has been so confusing is this:
When he was in PS he was a shy, quiet, almost painfully withdrawn kid. He never volunteered information, but he never caused any trouble and always obeyed his those in authority over him. BUT at home he is the polar opposite. He will yell, scream, fight with sibs, demand his way ALWAYS, not understand discipline. Consequences are far beyond him in relating to his actions, etc. He doesn't like to do anything that isn't his idea first, and with 6 kids, this is impossible. I was wondering if any of you out there had suggestions on how to really regain some lost ground between me and my son? How do we promote more peace in the home? I still struggle with what he CAN control and what is OUT of his control.
frogguruami's Avatar frogguruami 03:54 PM 03-22-2006
I just finished reading a book called Parenting the Asperger Child (or something close to that at least). It had alot of insite on how their little brains work.
littlest birds's Avatar littlest birds 02:10 AM 03-24-2006
amseiler, if that book is the one by sohn and grayson that is one of the best I have come across,

but I just ordered one about homeschooling in particular:

"Homeschooling the Child With Asperger Syndrome: Real Help for Parents Anywhere and on Any Budget" Lise Pyles and there are actually more than a couple titles available on this subject in particular. I haven't received the book yet. (I tried to stay away from those that were obviously trying to talk the reader into homeschooling, and this one looked more practical as I can talk myself into this and just about anything else that catches my fancy quite frankly.)
hsmamato2's Avatar hsmamato2 01:02 PM 03-25-2006
My little sis is almost 19- FINALLY we knew she had Aspbergers when she was about 10 or 12 yrs old.... up till then, she was just a kid who couldn't fit in in school or anywhere else except at home- Mom took her out of school in the 3rd grade, and just plain muddled through the best she could, she allowed her the extra time she needed to grow emotionally- academically, very smart!
At 18 1/2, she's an incredible pianist,getting close to concert level, wins many competitions, co-runs a business with my mom,where she interacts well with customers - taught herself chinese,and japanese, is going to Japan this summer on an exchange program(without Mom) and is getting her license very soon.She already has a car(business) and is very responsible.
This is the child who the school gave up on b/c it was too much trouble to try and figure out a label for her, we didn't have one either(a blessing) we just knew she needed extra time to catch up, and she did! BTW, totally unschooled, part of her personality is extreme stubborness,Mom just let her live and grow...
This was against what almost everyone in the family advised- "she'll never learn if you don't force her into situations she can't handle, she'll always be hiding behind you-she'll never grow up, she'll always be weird..."
Growing up, her best friend was my son,6 years her junior(they're still best friends)
My suggestion to anyone, and especially those whose child may have a different timetable for growing up...just let your kid go at the pace she needs, and trust your mother instincts! Not necessarily unschooling if that's not your thing, but just knowing your kid will be fine someday, and allowing them the space they need to mature.
eilonwy's Avatar eilonwy 08:45 PM 03-25-2006
That was so cool to read! I'm glad your sister is doing well, thank you for posting that.
Lillian J's Avatar Lillian J 06:41 PM 03-26-2006
I just ran across a fascinating Wired article!

The Geek Syndrome

"Autism - and its milder cousin Asperger's syndrome - is surging among the children of Silicon Valley. Are math-and-tech genes to blame?"

- Lillian

eilonwy's Avatar eilonwy 08:29 AM 03-27-2006
Interesting article... I never really thought about the similarities between ASD and dyslexia before, that's fascinating. My sister (BizzyBug's mom) is dyslexic in a big way, always has been. Hm.
momofcutie's Avatar momofcutie 05:28 PM 03-30-2006
Originally Posted by Lillian J
There's a book by the homeschool mom of an asperger's son - Homeschooling the Child with ADD or Other Special Needs: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the Child with Learning Differences.
Hey Lillian! I'm so glad you recommended that book! I loved it! Man, I had all these things I planned to write down as notes from the book, but I forgot and returned it to the library. I'll have to check it out again. You were quoted in the book, weren't you?

Can I have your autograph?????
Lillian J's Avatar Lillian J 08:39 PM 04-02-2006
Originally Posted by momofcutie
You were quoted in the book, weren't you?

Can I have your autograph?????
Ohmygosh! I'd completely forgotten about that! Yes - the article on vision skills is in there and/or maybe the one on dyslexia??? I don't remember.

Here - this is the closest to an signature sort of font we have here: : Lillian


livingglitter's Avatar livingglitter 06:37 AM 01-30-2014

I'm an aspie and therefore my future child will also likely be an aspie. I was homeschooled and while the way my mother handled it didn't work in many ways for me, there are some elements I'd love to be able to offer to my child (science! art! gardening! many museum visits! going to the theater!). However, I started PS in 6th grade and it took me probably until high school to be able to form decently healthy friendships and I still struggle with some social things like texting, twitter, small talk with people I don't know well, etc. I'm worried that if I homeschool my future aspie, she'll be extra slow, even for an aspie, in picking up what's appropriate to say when, how to handle different social situations, etc. My family is currently 3 adults (me, my platonic partner, and her DP) and we'll all work with her on socialization, but I worry about not having other kids around. Also, we live in the country, which can be isolating for children. Do you think part days at public school supplemented with classes at home would be a good compromise? Or should I just put her in full time?