Homeschooling a Child with Asperger’s5 min read
Finding out that you are homeschooling a special needs child comes with a mixed bag of emotions.
On the one hand, you find yourself feeling relieved that you can now stop blaming yourself for your child’s challenges. That whatever your kid has been struggling with has not been a result of your inadequacies as a homeschool mom, but rather a part of something bigger… a part of an actual condition that was never in your control.
And then, on the other hand, you find yourself feeling grief. The internet can be a scary place sometimes. It will give you every possible worst-case scenario and you find yourself spiraling into a whirlpool of panic and emotions, wondering what the future really holds for your precious child.
But now that you are aware that your child has special needs, what next?
Do you continue, as usual, hoping that as he eats mud and bugs and walks around barefoot, he’ll probably be just fine?
Or do you live in denial that all these diagnoses and conditions are simply figments of people’s imaginations?
What do you do when you are homeschooling a child with special needs, and specifically Asperger’s?
- Get a proper medical diagnosis
- Identify your child’s challenges
- Understand your child’s needs
- Examine and take care of yourself.
- Tailor your homeschool curriculum to your child
- Motivate, encourage and always celebrate your child
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help
First and foremost, you will obviously need to get a proper medical diagnosis. You cannot self-diagnose after reading a few things on Google.
Once you know for sure, as a parent you will have to understand everything you possibly can about your child and Asperger’s.
According to the dictionary, Asperger’s is a developmental disorder related to autism. And it is characterized by pedantry in speech, awkwardness in social interaction, and preoccupation with very narrow interests.
Try to identify what the challenges look like for your child.
Is it social/emotional immaturity?
Have playdates always been difficult? Have you witnessed and experienced various chaotic and tough social situations that have led to melt-downs?
Instead, maybe your child is pulled towards books and educational documentaries.
It is possible that your kid cannot understand simple social norms that his peers could naturally comprehend.
Does your child have a deep emotional attachment to material things?
Does your child have scattered skills?
This could be another thing that you notice in your child.
While he may own a hundred books and have amazing reading comprehension, maybe his spellings aren’t great or his handwriting is barely legible?
You know your child better than anyone else. You will know what works best for him.
Once you have understood your child’s various challenges, strengths, his weaknesses, what do you do?
As a homeschool mom, you take advantage of his strengths and keep working on his weaknesses. And all this while trying to avoid a whole heap of tears.
Examine yourself too. Are you putting too much pressure on your kid and yourself? Do you need to take a step back and relax a bit? Do you need to deal with your tendency to get angry when your child cannot keep up with you?
Understand where you need to push your child and where you need to learn to back off.
It’s okay to have difficult homeschool days; it’s about how you deal with yourself and your child when you have these days.
Are you trying to bring your child with Asperger’s at par with your other kids or even kids from other homeschool families? Why? Your family is different. Each one of your kids is unique. Don’t try to make them into people they are not.
Pray for wisdom and courage. Take care of yourself.
Maybe your child has brought out every single fear, insecurity, weakness and even selfish tendencies to the forefront.
Maybe he can push your buttons like no one and nothing else can.
But have you reminded yourself that this unique and beautiful child that has been given to you is such a blessing? A special blessing.
Your relentless love for him should make you care less about what the world thinks, and worry more about what actually matters.
And realize that it’s okay to tailor-make your home education to fit your child’s needs and abilities.
Maybe you’ll have to do a lot of trial and error. And that’s totally fine!
Don’t force your child to adapt to something that is just not built for him. Instead, learn to adapt the curriculum and build something especially fit for him.
So what if you have settled with a messy curriculum? As long as it’s doing a good job of meeting your specific needs and helping your child to learn and grow in the best way possible, it works!
Keep motivating and encouraging your child no matter what. Celebrate every little achievement and have him know that you are right there for him, cheering him on.
Your homeschool does not need to look picture perfect or neat and tidy all the time.
You will not always have your own emotions under control.
Some days you may desperately need external help. Ask for it! Phone a trusted friend or a family member. Call them over. Take help.
And as you realize that your special child is wonderfully unique and continue to work with and for him, you will grow as a parent and a homeschool mom.
After all, it is an incredibly awesome privilege to be his mom, and you wouldn’t trade it for the world, right?