(Inside: Check out these 5 vital things to consider before homeschooling your autistic child for everything you need to think about before taking the leap to homeschool an autistic child.)
When you’re deciding whether or not to homeschool your autistic child, there is a lot to consider.
I mean, can you even homeschool your autistic child?
And if you can… Why should you homeschool your autistic child?
I’ve covered both of those already in my series all about homeschooling your autistic child… And today I’m going to let you in on 5 vital things you need to consider before homeschooling your autistic child.
Because while you definitely can, and there are plenty of reasons why you should, there are definitely things to take into consideration first.
5 Vital Things to Consider Before Homeschooling Your Autistic Child
Before you dive into that homeschool curriculum catalog to find the perfect autism-friendly reading program, you need to figure out a few basic things first.
Why Do You Want to Homeschool Your Autistic Child?
Everything in your life should start with one question.
Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you fight for your autistic child every day? Why do you do the work that you do?
In everything you do, you should start with your why.
For example, my why for Autistic Mama is to help bridge the gap between autistic advocates and parents of autistic children.
My why for my job is to support my family and keep my husband home full time to be with us.
Homeschooling your autistic child needs to have a why…
Maybe it’s so that your autistic child can learn in an environment that’s best for them, or maybe it’s so that you have more time as a family.
Maybe you homeschool your autistic child so that you have plenty of time for therapies and specialist appointments, or maybe it’s because you’re trying to avoid bullying at school.
Whatever your reason for homeschooling your autistic child, know your reason so that you can fall back on it on the days when homeschooling gets hard.
How Does Your Autistic Child Learn Best?
Now that you know why you homeschool, it’s time to take a look at how your autistic child learns best.
Are they visual learners, or kinesthetic? Do they love to read or do they prefer to draw pictures?
A-Man likes hands-on curriculum and he loves anything with a screen.
We’ve found some really great screen based curriculums, and some that are really sensory oriented that have worked great.
(Don’t worry, we’ll dive deep into curriculum choices later in the series!)
Now, it’s important to know that you may not always be able to teach your child in their favorite method.
Sometimes A-Man has to read real books.
Sometimes he has to write with a pencil instead of a marker.
But when you know how your autistic child learns best you can accommodate the best you can, and be ready for those days you have to use a less-than-optimal lesson.
What Realistic Goals Do You Have for This Year?
Okay. So you know why you’re homeschooling your autistic child, and you know how your child learns best.
Now it’s important to take an honest look at what you’d like to accomplish this year.
This will vary widely based on your child’s age, their developmental and academic level, and your personal beliefs and views on education.
My oldest is starting 5th-grade curriculum next year, which is two years “ahead” of his grade level. So his yearly goals are wildly different than A-Man’s, who is working through kindergarten and first-grade curriculum when he “should be” in 2nd grade.
And your homeschooling goals don’t have to be grade-specific.
Maybe it’s working up to 20 minutes of table activities before a break by the end of the year.
Maybe it’s reading one early reader book.
Maybe it’s learning to add and subtract with manipulatives.
Maybe it’s independent teeth brushing or potty training.
(Yes, life skills totally counts as homeschooling… We’re covering that later in the series too!)
Whatever goals you set, try to keep them realistic and make sure they fit your family.
Just because Susie Homeschoolsalot’s kids are learning Mandarin doesn’t mean your children need to.
What Support Do You Have Available?
I’m not going to sugar coat this…
Homeschooling can be hard. And homeschooling an autistic child comes with its own unique challenges.
It’s worth it, for our family, a hundred times over. But that doesn’t negate the need for support.
Before you jump into homeschooling your autistic child, it’s important to evaluate what support you have available.
Does your spouse support you homeschooling? Are they willing to jump in and cover a lesson if you can’t?
Do you have therapists that support your family in place? Have you set up respite care if it’s available?
Try to look at your time realistically and see if you’ll be able to squeeze in time for self-care and your relationships with your spouse, your friends, and your other family.
My husband has had to take over homeschooling completely a few times over the years when I’ve been struggling with morning sickness, other illnesses, or right after I have new children.
Heck, he’s doing most of the homeschooling right now because my work is absolutely crazy-town while working on my book launch.
It isn’t always your spouse that’s supportive, though. It’s also important to have a tribe of friends who support you and what you’re doing, so that you have a safe space to go vent and celebrate and connect with others who get it.
My best friend has no kids, but she’s always there to chat. Even if it’s just about how excited I was when A-Man did his first math worksheet!
Having a person to support you makes all the difference when you’re in the thick of the school year and dreaming about that big yellow bus.
Are You Ready to Homeschool Your Autistic Child?
And finally, let’s chat about you.
Are you ready to homeschool your autistic child?
Maybe you’re a homeschooling parent already, and you’re nervous about meeting your autistic child’s needs.
Or maybe you never wanted to homeschool, but you’re realizing that’s what will be best for your autistic child.
That’s definitely the position I was in. I never, ever wanted to homeschool, but when we realized that’s what our kids needed, that’s what we did.
It took me a while to get on board.
I was nervous that I’d mess it up. I struggle with executive functioning myself… What if I forgot to teach them?
Or what if they grew up and hated me for not giving them the public school experience?
What if I ruined everything?
Friend, I want to tell you that those fears are NORMAL.
If homeschooling is what is best for your autistic child, you can do this.
Just the fact that you’re here reading this shows that you’re taking this seriously, and you really can do this.
But it’s okay to take some time to think about how this will change your life, and make sure you’re ready to take the leap.
You’ve got this.
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