I have always wanted to homeschool my children, even before my first daughter was born. The one thing that I did not plan on was Autism. My son was diagnosed with severe, non-verbal Autism at the age of 3. I was determined not to let this derail my plans of homeschooling him. I ran up against some professionals who said that it would never work, but I just kept researching our state’s homeschool laws and asking tons of questions of anybody I thought might be able to help. We are now headed into his fourth year of homeschooling, and we are going strong.
There are days when homeschooling is hard, but add in Autism, and there is a whole new level of difficulty, but I know it is what is best. Here are the main reasons that I homeschool my son with severe Autism:
1. Sensory Needs – He often has issues with getting over-stimulated with lots of sound and activity around him. When this happens, he gets very hyper and stims, often noisy vocal stims. He gets too focused on everything around him to learn. At home, I can control his environment and we also work on his coping skills when dealing with sensory overload. He often needs deep pressure as well, so several times a day, we take a break and he gets a deep pressure activity. It calms him and refocuses his attention.
2. Bullying – I just can’t imagine sending him into a daily situation where he would be at risk of a possible bullying situation. He is non-verbal, and very trusting, so this would be an easy scenario for him to fall into, and I would not even know. He has dealt with his share of bullies in his life in other situations, so I prefer to keep him home where I know that he is safe.
3. Life Skills – Life skills do not come to him naturally, as is common with many children on the autism spectrum. At home, we are able to repeatedly practice these skills in our day-to-day life.
4. Diet Restrictions – My guy has a very strict diet, which has helped him so much, but it would be difficult to implement if he was in school. He is very food driven, so seeing people’s food would definitely draw him into disaster. I have to control the food situation because he does not have the ability to control it himself.
5. Developmentally Appropriate Learning – When a child is learning at home, there is freedom to direct their learning in a very neurologically appropriate way. My son is very much still into toddler interests. No problem, we just meet him where he is. This often means learning in very short blocks of time, sometimes as short as a couple of minutes, and we take breaks as needed.
6. Safety – My boy is a darter. If he sees something of interest or just needs to move suddenly, he will make a dash for it. This can lead to very dangerous situations. We have experienced some scary moments over the years. It used to be a constant issue, but it is improving as he is responding better to his name and simple instructions, but it still is a something that happens. As a family, we have become very aware of this behavior and we can often anticipate it and stop it before it happens. It worries me to think of leaving this huge responsibility to another person.
7. Therapy – My son has a very intense therapy schedule, so we are able to work throughout the day. If we tried to do that after school, I know that he would burn out quickly.
These are my main reasons for homeschooling my son. If you are considering doing the same, your reasons might be completely different. Just remember one thing – you can do it. It is not any easy task, but what part of being a parent is easy? If you homeschool your child with severe Autism or are considering the possibility, I would love to hear from you!