Emma shares her story of why she decided to remove her autistic son from school and begin homeschooling.
"J. was bullied by both teachers and children and also left years behind in maths and a year behind in all other lessons. School didn't help him and tried to say it was HIM with the problem."
Homeschooling children with autism is something a growing number of parents are turning to, and the facts explain why:
70% of parents of children with autism are concerned about their child’s education, as compared to 36% of parents of typically developing children.
(Study by the Easter Seals Society and the Autism Society of America, 2008)
Only 19% of parents of children on the autism spectrum felt that their children were receiving education to adequately prepare them for life, compared to 56% of parents of children without disabilities.
Increasing numbers of parents are homeschooling children with autism. Statistics show that this is part of a growing trend, with homeschooling increasing faster than any other form of education.
I tried many different methods to find what suited as obviously having a child with autism you need to find what works to keep their attention but not pressured so as not to set off a meltdown.
We did school at home with workbooks and a timetable with one day a week at a home education group to break it up but he wasn't really happy with that and the only day he was happy, but still learning, was home education group day, so I tried topic envelopes. I'd pop the work for the week into each topic and basically he worked through it when he felt like but it had to all be done in one week.
This worked briefly but as it was still school work based he had no enthusiasm. Eventually we worked through to where we are now which is semi-structured unschooling which is what we were trying when J. said "This is it, mam, this is how I like learning."
He does Conquer Maths and also has a book he is
reading....currently on the ipad kindle app, and then we have topics for History so they span a few months...currently Romans, Science and Geography. It
kind of changes according to interests etc. He is also researching his own
interests and he also uses games, - yes I do believe console and PC games can be
used for learning. He also plays golf competitively so we have two days a week
of semi-structure, two days golf and one day is at a home education group.
With the increase in the numbers of diagnosed children on the autism
spectrum, schools are struggling to cope. Classrooms with up to 30 children can
be very over-stimulating, and general education
teachers struggle with teaching all of the children in the
classroom. Many teachers have not received training in
working with children on the autism spectrum (Simpson, 2004) and are
ill-prepared to have them in their classrooms.
A big thing that I’m sure any parent of a child with autism will know about it meltdowns and we have our fair share here. Some days they don’t arrive until evening time which his own time to do his own thing, other times they are during semi-structured time or during golf (...golf is a whole other world so l'll not go into that) - but when it happens when he is learning we have various ways of dealing with it and helping him cope. Often it is frustration due to not being able to do something to a standard he thinks he ought in his mind. I've got used to looking for triggers.
If I see him starting to struggle or shoulder drop or the odd argh noise I take him from the situation and he either plays with the dog or lies on his bed for ten minutes with his eyes closed or practices some putting.
There are times though when it can’t be caught and its a full on meltdown.....every parent will parent differently and every child with autism is different but we practice respectful/peaceful parenting so respect that he needs to explode at that time. Sometimes it needs lots of tight hugs, sometimes he needs to go for a walk with the dog or lie down for half hour. But I never make him go back to doing whatever it was he was doing when the meltdown hit as there was obviously a reason for it.
Sometimes learning ends then, other times he will go back to learning but something totally different and relatively fun and easy like maybe animal videos on You tube etc, you have to be flexible with children with autism as I know anyone reading will know.
"I’m not saying what I do
with my lad who has among other things autism will work for you as each child
is different but we have finally found what works for us."
Many parents have identified a method they have found to work best when teaching their child, but schools are often unable or unwilling to help.
You can follow Emma's unschooling journey on her blog.
When it comes to homeschooling children with autism, I believe that a large majority of people, teachers included, would probably agree that school is not the best place for your child.
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