Flexibility of homeschooling those with autism
Many parents of children with autism have considered homeschooling at one time or another. Educating a child with autism can be a challenge, and many schools are not up to the task. Even schools with highly qualified teachers and excellent programming cannot give a child the one-on-one personal attention that a devoted parent can offer. Sadly, most schools are adequate, at best, and many parents wonder how their child will do from year to year.
There are several advantages to homeschooling a child with autism. The biggest advantage is that a parent can tailor the curriculum to fit their child’s learning style, personality, and interests. In a school situation, the students are required to adapt to the teaching style and materials that are offered. Parents who homeschool can adapt the material to suit their child’s needs instead.
Many families use particular therapies or approaches such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or Relationship Development Intervention® at home, and it is often difficult to convince teachers and administrators to use similar strategies at school. Consistency is key when working with children who have autism, and parents who home-school can use the strategies of their chosen methodology while teaching academic subjects.
Another advantage is flexibility. You can schedule your lessons around your child’s doctor and therapy appointments. Many children with autism have sleep issues, which can lead to crankiness in the morning. If your child is a night owl, you can both sleep in, and schedule your lessons for later in the day. You can also allow time for naps, sensory breaks, and other therapies throughout the day, without pulling your child out of class.
Homeschooling parents also have greater control over their environment. You can set up your classroom to accommodate your child’s sensory needs, avoid distractions, and make the best use of your time. Many parents report that they are able to cover more material in a shorter period of time, because their child is not distracted or dealing with sensory issues.
One of the biggest criticisms of homeschooling is lack of socialization, but many parents of children with autism see this as an advantage. The social system of modern day schools is not autism-friendly, to say the least. Children with autism do not understand the social games that typical children play, and are often ostracized or bullied. Children who are being bullied are not in a position to learn. Parents who homeschool can offer their child social opportunities on a smaller scale, through play-dates or smaller social groups, where their child is likely to feel more welcome and less overwhelmed. They can offer opportunities for their child to practice social skills in an environment where they are not going to be shot down or ignored, which will give them greater confidence and desire to interact with others.
These are some of the main advantages of homeschooling a child with autism. The next article in this series will focus on the disadvantages of homeschooling.