Choosing to homeschool my child with high functioning Autism
To homeschool my child with High Functioning Autism was not a decision to which I easily arrived. However, when your child isn’t average, their schooling might not look very average either. Aging out of Early Intervention, at age 3, meant we would need to be included in public pre-k, or wait 2 more years (without services) hoping there were no regressions. Being accepted into special education was a hard-fought battle. When you have a child with High Functioning Autism, they tend to not qualify academically, or even under the autism diagnosis.
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This is our homeschooling story
My son was unable to remain qualified for SPED pre-k, as his only major deficits were social-emotional. The problem is that most pre-schools will not accept these “problem behaviors” from students for long. I was fortunate enough to have a great private pre-k that worked with us on managing Kekito’s anti-social outbursts and reactions. He remained there for their private kindergarten as well.
After moving back to Hawaii, I called the Student Services Coordinator and explained my son’s predicament: He was in kindergarten on the mainland, but in here, he was a 1st grader. I told him that I knew he was academically prepared for 1st grade, but probably not emotionally. He talked me through it all with a brief assessment of his skills and assured me that 1st grade was the right fit.
IEPs and 504s
After re-evaluation, they found Keko to be ineligible for an IEP (that’s another long story of its own). They assured me a 504 was going to be just as effective at meeting his needs. Epic fail.
Anger, frustration, and bullies, oh my!
The teacher was as stunned at the boldness of that particular kid as was I. This is what I was subjecting my baby to each and every day?! The most frustrating part? My child was typically the one to receive consequences because he’d react and the other kids knew how to be sneaky.
Deciding to homeschool
When we arrived at our new home, I asked the school whether I could volunteer full time in the classroom since we couldn’t have an aide. A district-wide policy mandated that parents couldn’t volunteer full time in the classroom.😞 I asked about ABA therapists sitting in. Hard no on that one too!
Specialists determined he had the social skills of a toddler. His last teacher believed he was academically accelerated even beyond his older peers (He was a year ahead because of the cutoff). He was, in some ways, both a kindergartener and a 3rd grader all at once… So we pushed forward with homeschool. I am so very glad that we did.
What about socialization?
Long Answer: He still needs some opportunities to practice his social skills, and we give him those opportunities through church and playground time. We focus on quality over quantity. For this reason alone (but in addition to many others) I’m so happy I decided to homeschool my child with High Functioning Autism!
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