Tips and Benefits of Homeschooling Your Child with Autism
RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
For many families, school districts and specialized schools provide appropriate levels of support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These children benefit from the expertise of specialists, structured learning programs, supported interactions with peers, and customized learning plans.
Other families, however, do not find success in these or traditional school programs and are increasingly turning to homeschooling as an alternative to help their children reach their full potential.
Homeschooling Benefits for Families with a Child with Autism
Time4Learning is a Certified Autism Resource by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards and since 2004, has proudly served a growing number of families who have children with autism. Let’s explore the top reasons why homeschooling is a popular choice among families with a child or children with autism.
Individualized Instruction: Homeschooling can be customized to a child’s individual needs. A parent can choose a specialized curriculum or bring in specific educational materials that will support a child’s needs or allow for the deeper pursuit of a child’s interests.
Environment: Parents can provide a safe, loving environment for learning without comparison to peers or the misunderstanding from others. They can also build strategies for success in real-life situations through role-playing and other methods.
Socialization: Children with ASD can experience social interactions that are purposeful and supported while avoiding uncomfortable, overwhelming social events and activities.
Control of the Schedule: The flexibility of homeschooling can enable more options for maximizing effective times and modifying for “not-so-good” days. Parents can guide learning when a child is most receptive to learning, change the pace of instruction, take breaks, and adjust the schedule around therapies and other supports, while also supporting transitions and providing strategies for when change occurs.
Monitoring of Health: Another homeschool benefit is that parents may be better able to monitor health changes, results of medications, and eating and sleeping habits since the child is learning from home.
Specialized Services: Depending on state homeschool laws, parents may be able to hand-pick services and service providers to target specific skills or functional challenges.
Tips for Homeschooling a Child with Autism
Homeschooling a child with ASD can be challenging, but there are some methods for making your role easier as the parent-teacher and helping your child succeed. Of course, like all students, children with autism have a wide range of needs and abilities, so tailoring learning to your child is the most important thing to remember. Below are a few tips:
Set Up a Structure/Routine: Create a schedule that works for you and your child, and make sure to post it for your child to easily see. Include breaks for movement or sensory needs, or to simply relax. When each activity is finished, have your child check it off a chart or board to note that it has been completed. Support transitions and any unforeseen changes to the schedule, which are bound to happen from time to time.
Use Your Child’s Interests: Incorporate your child’s interests in what they are learning. This is one of the many benefits of homeschooling! For example, if your child is interested in dogs, create math word problems using dogs, talk about dog breeds from around the world when doing geography, or read stories about our furry friends.
Practice Socialization: Design social experiences, playdates, and role-play using scripts and preset expectations prior to the events. Include discussions about socialization within other subjects—by analyzing character interactions in a story, for example, or creating a small store experience before cooking.
Provide Opportunities for Independence: Include an area where your child can go to take a break and support them in making decisions about when to use that area. Ask for input and give your child options throughout the day. Begin with choices that have little impact and are very supported, and gradually move toward bigger decisions with less support.
Selecting a Curriculum for a Student with Autism
Families with children with special needs choose Time4Learning due to its flexibility, platform structure, socialization support, and confidence-building features.
Looking for more helpful tips and support? We invite you to join Time4Learning’s Families Facebook Group, which is a great resource for families with children with ASD.
Choosing to homeschool a child with ASD is an important decision, and there will be naysayers, but there are also a lot of families who have already walked the path. Connecting with others who have already walked the same path through local and online groups can give you the support and encouragement you need before you start on your homeschool journey!