Doctors’ ability to identify autism spectrum disorder has improved greatly since it was first diagnosed in the early 20th century. Thus, society’s relationship with autistic kids is ever-changing.
Even if we still don’t fully know what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how to tackle it, we understand much more about it, which makes the lives of children and parents way easier than in the past. Also, representation in media and popular culture, such as television drama series like The Good Doctor, helps decrease stigmatization.
When you have kids, you have to be a least a bit prepared for surprises you might encounter in terms of behavior, education, social life, and so on. With children on the spectrum, surprises can be more significant.
Indeed, you have to learn how to efficiently deal with each autistic child in ways suited to him/her, but that doesn’t mean ASD prevents him/her from living regular lives.
The big question parents of kids on the autism spectrum are faced with is whether they should homeschool their children or enroll them in a public school. Since a lot of people contacted me with this issue, I decided to investigate and see what experts have to say.
Reasons to homeschool kids with autism
Parents may decide to enroll their autistic child in traditional school out of the desire for him/her to socialize, get the kind of education all other kids do, and so on.
However, it is essential to consider different factors when you work with kids on the spectrum. The classrooms in both public and private schools are often packed with children. Kids with autism do require more attention and time than neurotypical kids. Often, teachers don’t have that much time to dedicate to just one or a few children in the class.
It is also common for teachers in these schools to not have the training and skills necessary for communicating with autistic children. There are many other reasons why enrolling kids with autism in private or public schools isn’t an ideal option, and some are related to other children.
Kids can be, and often are, cruel, especially when something is going on that they don’t understand. One doesn’t have to be on the autism spectrum to be teased and bullied. But when your child does have autism, he/she will likely suffer maltreatment in school because other children rarely learn about ASD behavior and thus don’t have the tools to understand it.
I have researched homeschooling children with autism and will now give you some tips on how to make the transition go smoothly.
Work on topics of interest
Children on the spectrum tend to develop a deep interest in particular topics and fixate on them. This can be anything from music to history to biology and more. Try to figure them out and focus on those interests both as a parent and a teacher.
These topics are the doors to your child’s world, passions, and talents. You can use standard or specific ASD curriculums, or use them as an inspiration for developing a curriculum that will correspond to your kid’s needs. Don’t be afraid to explore and adjust study programs as the child grows.
Parents can provide a much more supportive environment for their child’s education if he/she is homeschooled. They can figure out the best activities for their child and find ways to implement them. Remember, you know your child better than anyone else.
Use computer-based learning
The computer plays an essential role in the education of kids with autism because it’s a less stressful way to learn. There are Virtual Charter Schools that provide encouragement, curriculums, and tech devices that can assist in learning and tests. These schools are funded by state governments, which means you don’t pay anything.
The only thing your kid won’t get is one-on-one support, but that’s where you come in. Homeschooling definitely should not lead to isolation, and that’s why these Cyber Schools are significant. Your kids can meet others, and you can also get to know other parents, exchange experiences, and consult on different topics.
After hearing their child is on the autism spectrum, a lot of parents are concerned about the child’s ability to socialize and participate in the real world. It is essential to know many people with autism function quite well in society and making social skills a priority for your child always helps.
First, keep in mind there are a lot of excellent games for kids with autism that can help to develop your child’s social skills. Also, when children are younger, you can use toys like Peaceful Pals to provide comfort in stressful situations such as social encounters. These toys help relieve the stress the child may feel when he/she meets someone new.
Also, you can incorporate the topics he/she finds interesting into social activities to help your child feel comfortable. As an example, if your child developed a particular interest in dinosaurs, you can take him/her to the Museum of Nature or Paleontology, which is something unlikely to happen in regular school.
A lot of kids with autism are talented in a particular area. But, with so many children in traditional classrooms, teachers don’t have time to give specialized attention, let alone to understand your kid is an exceptionally talented painter. When you are homeschooling, you can quickly figure this out and develop your child’s talent in the right direction.
Most schools have counselors, but that doesn’t mean they are equipped with the skills necessary to work with children on the spectrum or that they will have the right approach. Some kids do much better when they have the support of a skilled individual therapist who can truly dedicate attention to them.
After talking with experts but also parents of children with autism, I believe there are many advantages to homeschooling your child. Are you or your child on the spectrum? Or do you know someone who is? What are your thoughts on the topic?
This article was featured in Issue 104 –Transition Strategies For Kids With Autism