How is home schooling harder on my child with autism?
They already don’t know how to socialize. How are they expected to learn if they’re not put into a social situation on a daily basis?
Does a parent who home schools a child with autism make sure that a social situation occurs daily? Or is it just too hard to coordinate (because the rest of the child’s peers are all in school).
Look, school has a schedule, they have expectations, and a child is supposed to maintain a certain amount of agreeable behaviors.
Now, isn’t your job to prepare your child for the real world? Children with autism (if they are high functioning, of course) are still expected to live in our world.
Isn’t it your job to prepare them?
How are you helping them by keeping them at home?
What about the negative experiences of being at a school?
As a parent of a child with autism, I am as fearful of bullying as you are. Honestly, I think it bothers me more than it bothers my child (as far as I know). I think many times my child isn’t even listening to comments. He certainly doesn’t sit around and think about potentially being a victim of bullies. I think about him in that situation often and it worries me.
And my child’s not even in middle school (bullying hell) yet. When middle school does come around, I think I may be a nervous wreck.
But should I home school my child just to avoid potential bullies? If he ever does get bullied, how will he ever learn to handle a bullying situation?
By the way, I do not want or advocate any bullying situation. These days, schools are working overtime to help prevent bullying. But, I am a realist. My child has already had a comment or two thrown his way. One time I even heard it myself!
I simply believe my child will get picked on. He’s a sweet child but you have to really “get” him to enjoy his sweetness. Many kids still don’t understand him. All we can do is about it with our child and try to prepare him as best as we can. If we keep a dialogue going, we feel that he may be able to get through a bullying situation mostly (and hopefully) unscathed. He will have gained experience – real life experience – and hopefully he can move forward.
I believe this in my heart because I have accepted that I cannot protect him from everything. Even if I want to try to protect him from everything, I can’t.
And keeping him at home, safe, in my arms, will not help him.
What else is wrong about home schooling a child with autism?
Children with autism are at a disadvantage when it comes to social situations and the ability to communicate. My advice is to not make it harder on them. Let them grow through the learning process of being a child, even if they have autism, they are still a developing child. Work hard with your school, make sure you’re on the same page with them, and stay with school. I really believe they’ll be better off.
Let me revisit another part of my argument…
What would my child with autism be missing if I went with home schooling?
1. Peer interaction.
You already have a child with autism and that child struggles with peer to peer relationships. Your child already prefers to play alone. Don’t cater to his desires.
Or, put another way…How will home schooling help? You’re giving your child what she wants, a safe environment and less experiences with that scary outside world.
Is that the best way to handle their autism? Is it better to keep home as much as possible? You are simply decreasing valuable opportunities by keeping them home.
Schools provide qualified teachers and a schedule that is followed on a daily basis. Schools provide consistency. And our autistic kids love consistency and schedules. It helps them to have a schedule. Often, they memorize schedules. It gives them peace of mind.
At home, I believe a home schooling schedule can be too flexible. Or, at least, it can never be as structured as a school schedule.
2. Other administrators
Again, you take away the opportunity for more social interaction. Your child has to learn how to interact with the principle and the librarian, and the RSP person and the cafeteria workers and many others. A school experience is a more wide-ranging and fulfilling experience.
3. Teachers and aides
Even our kids need to learn about authority. They need to learn when to sit quietly and listen to a teacher. And our kids may even have an aide to assist them. But, they need to learn to respect people who are in charge. You are a parent, and you get different treatment. It is a hard task to be the parent and the teacher all inside a home.
4. School functions and your involvement with the school
Yes, they do get tiring at times. “Not another fundraiser!” “Is there a PTA meeting tonight?”
“That mom is crazy.” “I just can’t go over to school and help on a Saturday.”
Isn’t being connected with a school what school is all about? Your child has their role in a school and you have yours. Isn’t the experience complete because you spent half a day volunteering at your child’s jog-a-thon fundraiser? You ran with your child, took pictures, laughed with other parents…and you and your child were both a part of something.
Home schooling takes too many things away from your child. It makes studying and classwork more of an option. It takes away peers and a sense of authority. It takes away from a traditional experience that has proven to work.
Home schooling simply takes away more than it gives. It is about a parent taking control of a situation, yet not necessarily for the benefit of your child.
Think about home schooling long and hard before you consider doing it with your autistic child.
Instead of simplifying your life, I believe you’ll be making it so much more complicated. Home school is too easy of an option. Just don’t make it an easy one for you.
To Find Kimberly Kaplan:
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”