Homeschooling your child with ASD is a special time to spend with your child watching and helping them grow and learn. There are many reasons to homeschool children, but the need for individualized teaching, safety, health and behaviors are the most common for homeschool versus the traditional school system. Many children with ASD have the academic skills; however, behavioral, social, and emotional issues will be the most important ones for your child to learn.
You can use standard education curriculum, specialized ASD curriculum or create your own. One of the best parts about homeschooling is you find the individualized program that fits YOUR child’s needs and you can make changes hourly, daily and weekly as needed. You choose and adapt the curriculum to suit your child and work at their speed. There is a flexibility in the schedule that is not available in the traditional school setting. Some kids learn better in the morning and some in the evening. Some need longer breaks in the day and homeschooling offers this flexibility.
Homeschooling can be done very cheaply but there are things you may need to pay out-of-pocket for. When you are in the public school system, all services are free to you. When you homeschool, that is rarely the case. There are certain things you can use from the public school system (in home therapy and teacher visits), even as a homeschooler, but the rest you will need to pay out-of-pocket, and then write it off on your taxes.
In order to ensure success, set up a separate room just for school. Your home is a place of comfort, but you should create a separate workspace just for schooling. Keeping the distractions to a minimum and all the supplies in the same area, it helps keep your child focused on learning. If you have a child who fidgets or needs sensory input to stay focused, try a ball chair or wiggle seat. Inexpensive white boards and a sturdy desk with drawers and a bookshelf will be a great start to the perfect school room.
Another option for homeschooling is working with virtual charter schools. Virtual charter schools are paid for by state funds so they are free to you, and they provide you with the necessary tools for homeschooling your child. Those tools include a computer, printer, curriculum, assistive technology devices, learning support help, evaluations, therapies, social outings and much more. The virtual charter school also deals with the state for attendance, state testing, portfolios, etc., so you don’t have to.
When you begin your homeschooling adventure, know what your state laws are before you begin. Every state has its own laws about homeschooling. If your state requires a portfolio of your child’s work, and most do, be prepared to provide samples of his or her work. A portfolio will contain lesson plans, progress notes, hours per week spent learning, any written work, photos of projects, and proof of field trips.
The most important thing, don’t do it alone! You don’t want to isolate yourself when you start homeschooling and thankfully, there are many homeschool groups in every state. They can help you understand state laws and requirements, make friends, get support and recommendations for local providers or services, find social outings and much more!
If you decide to homeschool your child with ASD, as I have, I wish you luck and will be here for support if you ever need it!