There are many advantages to homeschooling a child with autism, but there are also difficulties that parents need to be aware of before they take that step. One of the biggest disadvantages parents cite is the lack of free time for themselves. Raising a child with autism can be exhausting. Many require constant supervision. Lots of families are already doing home-based therapies that require extensive hours of one-on-one interaction. Finding babysitters or respite care can be a challenge. For many parents, the only time they are able to run errands or take some time for themselves is while their child is at school.
A second factor to consider is finances. Raising a child with autism is expensive, and most families are already footing the bill for therapies, special diets, and doctor fees that aren’t covered by insurance. Homeschooling would require one parent to give up their job, and this is not realistic for many families. Some families work around this by having the partner who stays home during the day take a job during the evening hours, but this, also, can put stress on the individual and on the marriage. Adding extra financial worries to an already tense situation is not likely to be beneficial for anybody in the long run.
A third factor to consider is the personality of the parent who will be homeschooling the child. Homeschooling requires a great deal of planning, preparation, and patience if it is going to be successful. Setting up an area in the home for academics, researching curriculums, planning lessons, and making sure your child is able to reach national standards takes a lot of preparation. For many parents, who are already feeling stressed-out, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed, this can be too much.
It is also important to remember that homeschooling requires a lot of patience and trial and error. If your child is having difficulty learning a particular concept or skill, you will need to try a different approach. This can be frustrating for many parents.
Another factor to consider is socialization. Autism can be isolating, not only for the child, but for the rest of the family as well. At school, your child will be around other children, and you will have the opportunity to spend some time with other adults, away from the world of autism for a while. Many parents underestimate how isolating it can be to spend day after day cooped up with their special-needs child. Make sure you have a plan to get out and connect with others on a regular basis, for both you and your child. Needing adult interaction that does not revolve around autism does not make you a bad parent – it makes you human, and you will be better able to teach your child when you take care of yourself as well.
These are some factors to consider if you are thinking about homeschooling your child with autism. Our next article will focus on the steps to take to get started.