Homeschool. This is a “two-word” word that for us who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s did not mix. For us “Home” and “School” had two different connotations. “Home” was the place where we loved to stay, have fun with friends without any worrisome at all. While “School” was more of an obligation, learning subjects and taking tests.
Now, the first time my wife mentioned she was thinking about Homeschooling as an option for our son, my reaction was like, “well, sounds good but what does it need to be done?”. What about his therapies? What about social interaction with other kids? After all, he’ll be at home by himself and mom. Also, what about my wife’s mental sanity? It is tough already to be the mom of a kid with special needs, so now having the responsibility of our son’s education.
Those were some of the questions and concerns that I had in my mind when I realized that the mere thought of a potential idea was becoming a stronger reality. In fact, each one of those questions was a big thing by itself. So at this time, I’ll just pick one of the questions… What about social interaction with other kids?
One of the biggest challenges of the Autism Spectrum Disorder is the social interaction with others, especially with peers. My son has a decent interaction with adults and younger kids, but when it comes to peers, it is his biggest challenge in life. I guess part of it is because most of his “bad” experiences while growing up happened with kids of his age. I think it was the combination between his limited speech ability and his likes were more childish than other peers. I always thought that continuous contact with other kids eventually will magically “fix” the social interaction issue, but let me be honest, after six years between pre-pre-school and 3rd grade the improvement was not that significant. On top of that, “bullying” did not help the case either. My son’s behavior got affected at school and at home. He did not want to go to the park or any other places where other kids might be. Actually, the “bullying” experience was the drop that spilled the cup. After that awful experience, my wife and I were determined to pursue homeschooling.
After making the decision to start homeschool, we had to decide how we’re going to compensate the interaction with other kids. The first step towards that was to enroll him in swimming and track & field practices through the Recreational and Park District. These practices were awesome because not only helped him to interact with other kids, but they will count for PE class credit. Our son loves the fine arts. Piano, singing, painting and acting classes are among his favorites. After several months of homeschool and extracurricular activities, we started to notice a huge improvement in his behavior at home and with other kids. In fact, he wanted to go to his swimming practices and acting classes to share with other kids.
What at the beginning was a “BIG” concern for my wife and me, transformed into the BEST decision regarding our son had we ever made? But it does not happen in a vacuum. Most of the credit, if not all, goes to my wife. She has developed an awesome attitude in my son to handle the difficult challenges in life, including school stuff.
If you and/or your spouse have the heart and patience, should consider homeschool. Now a day there are so many resources you can find on the internet to make it work. The start of the journey is rough, but the final outcome is amazing.