Is Homeschooling a Good Option for Your Child with Autism?
When you have a child, you are naturally inclined to do what’s best for them. Once they reach school age, this includes answering the question as to how to educate them – do you go with the traditional public school? Shell out for private school? Or just homeschool them yourself?
This question can be difficult enough on its own but if your child has a condition like autism, it calls for a little extra thought. You might be surprised, though, to learn how much merit the option of homeschooling can be to an autistic child.
In this article, we are going to look at some of the factors that come into play when you are considering homeschooling your autistic child.
Control Over the Environment
When you send your child to public school, you give over a certain amount of control over to the environment there. You can’t control how the teacher act very well and you definitely don’t have control over the way that other students act.
For an autistic child, this unpredictability can take a toll. If they are working in a classroom, for example, and the other students start to get rowdy and loud, it can quickly become overwhelming for an autistic child as they experience a sensory overload. Not only does this make them uncomfortable but it takes away from the learning experience as well.
By teaching your child inside your own home, though, you take out some of the unpredictable factors that are usually associated with a traditional classroom. You can, for instance, keep the environment they work in rather calm and quiet as to not bombard them with stimulus. Introducing special needs products like sensory swings and weighted lap pads will help kids with special needs learn at their own unique pace.
Adapting the Curriculum
Another thing that public school can’t really provide is personalized curriculum. After all, they are working to teach an upwards of 30 students at a time. So, the lesson plans that they use are usually semi-generic so that they appeal to the whole class.
As a parent of an autistic child, it is easy to see where this blanket method can fail if your child is struggling to stay engaged in class. This brings us to another reason that parents of autistic children lean toward homeschooling: the ability to personalize a lesson plan to meet your child’s needs.
A common way of doing this is relating what a child is learning to them specifically. Many autistic children tend to hyperfocus or fixate on their interests. As a result, many parents will revolve their lesson plans around what their child is interested in so that they feel involved and pay attention. This type of technique is favored because it holds the attention of an autistic child better than the blanket method that many traditional classrooms are forced to use.
Socialize Your Child at A Safe Pace
With any young child, a big part of school is socialization and learning to interact with others. This is why you see a lot of classrooms that teach younger children focus on aspects such as sharing and getting along with others.
When a child is autistic, though, throwing them in a room with 30 other children isn’t always an interaction that works out well. As we have already discussed, the sometimes loud and rambunctious environment of the classroom can overwhelm a child with autism.
This is another reason that parents often opt to homeschool their autistic children. When you are in control of your child’s schooling, you are able to also control their socialization – most commonly through field trips. As such, it gives you the chance to ease your child into their socialization rather than just throwing them into the deep end and hoping they can handle it.
However, this should be done carefully. It is, of course, important that you keep your child comfortable but make sure that you don’t avoid socializing them at all. If you fail to socialize your child properly, they will suffer for it later in life when they need these social skills.
Control Over the Pacing
This point isn’t necessarily specific to teaching autistic children but it definitely comes into play: homeschooling allows you to control the pace of your child’s learning. Because you aren’t locked in to an 8-hour day with scheduled time for each subject, you are welcome to a certain fluidity in your child and yours schedule.
Say your child is having trouble with their multiplication tables, for instance. When you are homeschooling, you can reschedule your plans to set aside more time and different methods to help them understand the material rather than trying to force them to learn before a certain grading deadline. Alternatively, if your child picks up on a topic quickly, you can adjust your schedule so that the child isn’t doing repetitive tasks about a subject they already understand, leading them to boredom.
Homeschooling, just like any other type of education, isn’t the answer for everyone. However, it does offer distinct benefits to help your child – especially if traditional learning doesn’t always work in their favor as can often be the case with autistic children. At the end of the day, the answer to the question of how to educate your child is specific to the child’s needs and should be thought of in a personalized light.