Despite the wide availability of specialized schools for children with autism, there’s always the fear that your child might not get what they need. When this fear becomes too overbearing, many parents opt for homeschooling.
But what does it mean to teach a child with autism at home, and can you do it? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about homeschooling a child with autism.
Considerations Before Homeschooling a Child With Autism
Homeschooling a child with autism can be challenging. But, if you plan it out well and have everything you need, it can become a manageable and fulfilling experience.
Before you get to it, there are a few things you need to consider to ensure your child gets the most out of the experience. Here are some of the most notable considerations every parent or guardian needs to think about before homeschooling their child.
Can You Afford to Do It?
The cost factor is perhaps the most important thing to consider before homeschooling a child with autism. Like with a neurotypical child, you’ll need lots of supplies to set up a proper learning environment.
Additionally, depending on whether you choose to homeschool the child yourself or hire a professional to do it, you also have to consider the cost it might have on your everyday life. You might have to quit your job and endure early mornings and late nights preparing learning materials. Or get another job to cover the added expenses.
Like neurotypical children, children with autism in different age groups have different academic and social needs. As a general rule, you should start homeschooling your child at an early age. Homeschooling provides a more individualized and tailored educational experience.
But how early should you start? There’s no general rule of thumb that dictates the best age to start homeschooling a child with autism. All children are unique and have different cognitive abilities and developmental levels.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult a professional so they can assess the child’s needs and provide guidance on the appropriate time to start homeschooling.
Children with autism need to be engaged in social activities to promote their social and cognitive development. Therefore, the homeschool environment should incorporate these activities into the child’s curriculum.
Most families that homeschool their children with autism meet this need by joining education networks, sports clubs, and drama clubs. This way, their children get to interact with their peers and make friends.
The law dictates that the level of education you provide an autistic child in a homeschooling environment should prepare them for life in a modern society and give them the tools they need to progress in life and meet their full potential.
Therefore, in addition to meeting their social needs, you should also include core subjects like English, math, and science as part of the curriculum.
Special Educational Needs
Children with autism have unique learning needs. This means that they may require specialized instructions and resources to enable them to thrive academically. Some needs, like adaptations to the curriculum, and accommodations, such as extra time for tests or breaks during class, are pretty straightforward and easy to meet.
With that said, children with autism also require specialized programs and techniques, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which can only be met by working with a professional.
How to Start the Homeschooling Process
There is no standardized solution for homeschooling a child with autism. Every child has unique strengths and challenges. And it may take some time to understand their specific needs and develop a plan to address them effectively.
First, you need to consult a professional such as a pediatrician, occupational therapist, speech therapist, or educational specialist to provide guidance on the best time to start and how to do it.
Next, you may need to research your state’s homeschooling laws and regulations to ensure that you are in compliance. Once you’ve got that covered, you need to develop an individualized curriculum, establish a routine, and monitor their progress.
But ultimately, you need to be flexible, adaptable, and committed to giving your child the best education possible. Be ready to do some trial and error till you find what works best for your child.
Benefits of Homeschooling
Homeschooling a child with autism may provide added benefits over specialized public schools, both for the child and you as the guardian. Here are some of the most notable benefits of homeschooling your child.
Homeschooling a child with autism allows you to adjust the schedule and curriculum to meet your child’s specific needs. It also allows you to find workarounds for any problems or challenges that may arise.
This includes everything from tailoring the learning environment to your child’s specific needs, providing a hands-on approach to learning activities, and adjusting the curriculum accordingly. A specialized public school may be unable to provide such levels of flexibility.
Homeschooling your child gives you plenty of time to know and understand them. Once you figure out what your child needs, you can develop an effective curriculum and purchase any toys and educational materials necessary to improve your child’s learning.
Knowledge of the Curriculum
Along with customizing the curriculum to fit your child’s needs, you’ll also know what they’re learning and what makes them learn better. This allows you to improve your teaching methods on a level that specialized public schools cannot.
Safety is every parent’s concern, especially when it comes to children with specialized needs. Due to the high number of children and limited staff, specialized public schools cannot provide the level of safety a home could.
Although it’s quite difficult to guarantee an individual’s success, various factors influence the success rate of homeschooling children with autism. These factors include a customized curriculum, hands-on teaching methods, and the ability to continuously improve by looking at other families’ success stories.
Experiences Children Might Miss Out On
No matter how hard they try, specialized public schools lack the ability to provide each child with the life experiences they need to thrive. In a homeschool environment, you can work with professionals to create the perfect experiences to help your child learn better.
These experiences can also improve the social and cognitive abilities of children with autism.
Meeting a Child’s Unique Needs
Children with autism have unique needs. Working directly with them throughout their learning journey can help identify and fulfill these needs accordingly.
Moreover, parents and guardians who homeschool their children with autism often meet to discuss their observations and share ideas on improving their children’s learning experience.
Developing Social Skills
Children with autism often have a hard time developing their social skills. These children are exposed to more social situations in a home setting, giving them a significantly higher chance of honing social skills.
Can I Really Teach My Autistic Child?
The question of whether you can effectively teach a child with autism in a homeschool environment comes down to your commitment. Many parents are already doing it and have many success stories. Additionally, there are numerous guides all over the internet that are specially designed to help you teach your child effectively.
The Bottom Line
Homeschooling a child with autism has numerous benefits over taking them to a specialized public school. You get to interact with your child directly and curate the perfect learning environment. It’s also safer to teach your child at home.
If you’re ready to homeschool your child, it is advisable to first consult a professional to get proper guidance.
If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.
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