ADHD, aggression, bullying and being bullied, meltdowns, oppositional, auditory, visual and other Sensory Processing Disorders, are among the many challenges of modern school-aged children who are recovering from the conditions that are categorized under Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Individualized educational plans have gone a long way toward providing an increasing number of affected youngsters with a more appropriate academic environment. Yet, there remain numerous educational situations in which young children face significant obstacles.
Considering such challenges, an increasing number of families have chosen to home school their neuro-diverse offspring. Here is some of the valuable information that parents have provided about the decision to undertake such a situation.
What are the common characteristics of families who choose to home school?
The most disruptive children require additional medication, and/or one-on-one supervision. Sometimes, only a family member or therapist can achieve control, performed at home (or equivalent).
Families live in locations where there is an serious shortage of appropriately trained personnel.
The IEP and associated adjudication of services do not appear adequate to meet their child’s need. This could involve a lack of classrooms with ‘higher’ functioning individuals, or not enough services for those who have more troubling signs and symptoms of autism.
Parents concerned that, inattention, lack of focus, and hyperactivity in the neurotypical academic environment – by their own child and others – will likely negatively affect performance, grades, and self esteem. Indeed, the psychological profile scores are usually ‘all over the place’, indicating that processing is affected, not IQ.
Sometimes, the choice is influenced by the reluctance to administer stimulant and/or anti-anxiety medication, especially in the youngest students.
What are the biggest challenges?
Relationships with affected children, neurotypical siblings, and blending teaching with family activities, takes a quantum leap in patience, time and effort.
The discipline to prepare lessons and implement the required syllabus is a full-time job.
The outcome of all of this work requires evaluation to assess whether avoiding a traditional program is the preferable course. Has it been worth it?
Caretakers need to determine the best means to ensure exposure to others, and additional ways to foster socialization.
Ultimately, there needs to be a decision if/when to merge the children into a traditional academic environment.
Home schooling enables the ‘teacher’ to maximize learning by individualizing. Caretakers notice when affected children are ‘present’, or allow the necessary time to ‘get the jitters out’. If a youngster is able to avoid taking a test on a particularly squirrelly day, their score will probably be higher. Self esteem improves and anxiety abates.
For those under the age of 6, any suggestion that medication will ‘improve the academic situation’ should be carefully scrutinized. When there is a stay-at-home-parent, additional help, and other resources, home schooling may be the better option, especially for those who are most affected with ASD.
Though it’s not for every parent, or child, this path does provide some families with the most optimal opportunity to guide their offspring to their highest potential.