Homeschooling a Child with Asperger’s Syndrome
If you are the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, you have probably already been met with some educational challenges. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome often have educational and social struggles in school. Each child has different academic strengths and needs. In addition to learning academics, they have to adapt to a classroom environment filled with complex social interactions and sensory stimulation. Furthermore, many schools do not have the resources to provide as much assistance to students on the spectrum who are entering middle school and high school, leaving parents with little options other than seeking outside support.
For all of these reasons and probably others too, you may be considering homeschool for your child. One of the greatest things about homeschooling your child with Asperger’s syndrome is the individualized instruction your student will receive. On this page, you will find information on considerations you’ll need to keep in mind as well as strategies that can improve your homeschool experience.
Asperger’s and Homeschooling
Although Asperger’s is categorized as a disability, parents of children on the autism spectrum know that their strengths far outweigh their challenges. At Time4Learning, we understand students can excel in one subject and may need a little more time or assistance in another. This is why the curriculum is designed to allow parents to select different grade levels per subject. Parents can create a plan that meets their child’s needs and aligns with their family’s schedule The key to a successful experience when homeschooling a child or teen with Asperger’s is to find ways to capitalize on those strengths.
For example, most people with ASD are honest to their core. That means that when you ask your student how he/she feels about a specific curriculum you are testing or a method that you are trying, you are likely to get candid feedback. This will help you improve your teaching approach to best meet your child’s needs.
Online homeschooling provides an outlet for learning that many children with Asperger’s can benefit from; the impersonal nature of online learning, rather than virtual learning is something many students on the spectrum appreciate. An online curriculum like Time4Learning also provides immediate feedback to students and positive reinforcement that keeps them engaged and motivates them to do their best.
See What Others are Saying…
By Marianne, Mother of a fourth grade girl with Asperger’s Syndrome
“Elizabeth really enjoys the website. She especially liked the language sections (stories, family trees, etc). She also found it easy to use. It is very good for children with Asperger’s, as they are such visual learners and the computer gives prompt feedback.”
Homeschooling a Child with Asperger’s: Learning Styles
Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are often visual learners. They often have poor fine motor skills and writing is often a chore. Their math and language arts skills are often at different levels. They often learn routine social interaction behavior from observing others or through explicit instruction. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome need a highly structured education plan that fits with their learning styles.
Understanding how your ASD child best learns is perhaps one of the most important tasks you can undergo while homeschooling. Another is learning how to provide opportunities for learning through the use of these identified learning preferences.
How to Help a Child with Asperger’s Syndrome in School
Although understanding your homeschooler’s preferred way of learning is a great place to start, there are other strategies that will facilitate a smooth homeschooling learning experience. These include:
- Striving to maintain consistency in your child’s daily schedule.
- Giving plenty of warning and preparation about changes to the schedule or special events that you may take part in.
- Incorporating life skills and social skills instruction into your curriculum plan.
- Being generous with the praise you give your child or teen – – even if improvement is only incremental.
- Keeping distractions and stimulation to a minimum in the area where you are carrying out instruction.
- Tying curriculum subjects to your child’s current obsessions when possible.
Asperger’s Syndrome and a Special Education Plan
You may already have experience with an IEP (individualized education plan) or a 504 Plan, but what are they, what’s the difference, and do you need one for homeschooling?
An IEP, or individualized education plan, is an in-depth document for all students who require special education services. Both documents or plans will usually be created in a group setting that includes the parents or guardians of the student, teachers, ESE Coordinator (special education teacher or administrator), and possibly other specialists such as speech, behavioral, and occupational therapists. An IEP can provide services and support that a 504 plan can’t, such as specialized instruction, which may include different levels per subject and possibly more one-on-one time for the student, to name a few.
A 504 plan can accommodate students who can learn within a general (or mainstream) education environment with stated modifications. A 504 Plan is a better option when the student is able to function well in a regular education environment with accommodations. The 504 is typically less restrictive than the IEP, and also less defining or denouncing. An IEP is a better option for students with a disability that is adversely impacting education. 504 plans are formal plans that schools develop to provide students with disabilities the support they need, covering any condition that limits daily activities in a major way.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you are creating an environment emotionally, academically, and socially, specific to your child’s needs. This is the entire point of an IEP or 504 Plan; a school that is designed for uniform needs rather than individual needs has to create an alternative path, whereas homeschooling is a world that is designed specifically for your student to grow at his or her own pace and develop a love of learning in a nurturing environment.
Time4Learning has a number of homeschool students with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Their parents have selected Time4Learning as an effective way to teach them a range of skills. Beyond praising the academic strengths, which include a visual and interactive teaching method, parents have commented that the lessons model proper conversations. This helps children with Asperger’s Syndrome visualize and internalize standard interactions between individuals. While there is not really a need for the document from the school district to accommodate your homeschooler’s needs, you can always reach out to your school district and verify if they provide free resources or therapies for homeschooled children with special needs.
For instance, many of the elementary math lessons are introduced with a short conversation between two cartoon characters. Typically, one character asks a question, and the other explains the answer. Modeling typical peer interaction for children with Asperger’s Syndrome has proven to be a strong method for teaching them how to relate to others.
How Time4Learning Curriculum Helps Students with Asperger’s
A computer-based curriculum may be part of the educational answer for children with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Time4Learning is an online interactive curriculum used for homeschooling, afterschool reinforcement, or summer study. Time4Learning is student-paced and the levels of the subjects can be set independently. The comprehensive curriculum covers preschool to high school. Time4Learning is automated so over-worked parents can relax knowing their child is getting a quality educational experience without their immediate hands-on involvement.
Many families who have a child with Asperger’s Syndrome have found Time4Learning to be a great contribution to their children’s education. Here’s why:
- Lessons and activities are multisensory and work with a variety of learning styles.
- The impersonal nature of computer learning is preferable to many on the autism spectrum.
- It builds on existing skills in reading, math, science, and social studies.
- It allows for the placement of different grade levels in different subjects.
- New learning opportunities are introduced in a safe, supportive environment.
- Learning is balanced with fun!
Choose your subject and grade level to experience demos of Time4Learning’s interactive curriculum.
Have other questions about homeschooling a child with autism? You may find the following pages helpful.