What makes someone an expert on a subject? It requires knowledge, of course. Beyond book learning, I believe that true expertise requires tested experience and an ability to convey that knowledge in a practical way for others. I’ve been blessed to learn firsthand from many experts in my life on the topics of writing, motherhood, blogging, and homeschooling, to name a few.
When it comes to autism, a spectrum disorder that is still being researched, it’s difficult to make blanket generalizations. Just as each person is an individual, each child with autism is a child first and foremost, not merely a diagnosis. Even with doctors who specialize in autism research and treatment, it would be hard to point to one who really has a handle on the answers. So aside from the medical community, I look to other moms like me who are raising (and homeschooling) kids on the spectrum. It’s our everyday experiences pooled together that makes us experts.
Encouraging words and resources from homeschool moms with kids on the spectrum:
“My oldest son has Asperger’s and ADHD. His learning/social challenges have been difficult, no doubt. However, he is an incredible boy with so much potential (and who loves Jesus dearly)! God has taught me so much through his journey as someone ‘on the spectrum.’ The biggest piece of advice I would say is to focus on and celebrate the small (but numerous) victories you see, and to continually reframe the ‘difficulties’ into the incredible possibilities the situation can offer. Praying continually for this focus is essential because there are many days that it will not come naturally!” ~ Alicia from Vibrant Homeschooling. Read more in her post Discovering and Celebrating Tiny Miracles.
“You can homeschool a child with autism. I pinky swear! When I start to get discouraged or see that bright yellow school bus and get tempted to call the public school I remember the ‘services’ that my son would get and how they wouldn’t even be close to enough to let him feel safe and ready to learn. There are days it will be difficult, and seasons where you focus on life skills more than math and reading, but you are the best teacher for your child. No one can possibly love him and want him to succeed more than you do. You got this, mama.” Kaylene from This Outnumbered Mama
Jennifer Janes has been generous with her knowledge and personal experience of homeschooling with autism (and other special needs) on her blog. She has written about the fears of not being qualified to teach our special learners and ten things you should know about homeschooling with special needs.
Autism has not shaken my resolve to homeschool. I believe that it is the best possible educational approach for our daughters, including the one who happens to be autistic. I have watched our daughter blossom and thrive and make progress over the past few years. She didn’t call me Mama until she was over 3 years old, yet now she is reading and writing. She participates in pretend play with her sisters and makes up her own creative stories to act out. Yes, the quirks of autism are ever present. Yes, there is a communication barrier. These things can’t be denied. But I know she is in a positive environment, tailored specifically for her learning needs, free from bullies and the other pitfalls of a public school setting. There is no one who cares more about her success, her happiness, and her education than we do as her parents.
My best advice for those who are homeschooling a child on the spectrum, or thinking about homeschooling a child on the spectrum, can be summed up in three points:
- Ask questions. It’s the best way to learn.
- Get help when you need it. Join a local support group, or find one online. Facebook can be a good place to start.
- Fear not. Parenting in general comes with risks and uncertainties. Don’t let the autism diagnosis scare you. The more you focus on the fear and challenges, the more paralyzing it can become. Everything has a purpose ~ parenting a child with autism is just a part of yours.
Some of my other posts on autism ~
Lil Sis (living with autism)
Life with Autism: A Sister’s Perspective (written by my oldest daughter)
Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you might have about homeschooling and autism. You can also click Contact to send a private message.
You can read great advice on all kinds of homeschooling topics from the iHomeschool Network bloggers: