Homeschooling Your Child with Autism

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More parents of children with autism are opting to homeschool for a variety of reasons. In this article, you will information about homeschooling your child with autism, including: pros and cons to homeschooling, curriculum options, how to ensure your child has access to social opportunities, and sample schedules.

Requirements for Homeschooling

State law regulates homeschooling, so you will need to check with your State Department of Education in order to find out about their particular laws and requirements. This website has a summary of laws for each state as well as links to every state's Department of Education website. Additional resources regarding homeschooling laws and requirements can be found at the end of this article.

Public School Responsibilities

Public schools are required to perform educational testing on your child if requested. On the other hand, state laws vary on whether they are required to provide services for your homeschooled child. Check with your local Department of Education for further information.

Pros and Cons to Homeschooling

After you've familiarized yourself with your state's homeschooling laws and requirements, it's time to take a look at the pros and cons of homeschooling. Below, you will find a list of pros and cons to help you get started.

Pros to Homeschooling a Child with Autism

  • Parent and child get to spend more time together
  • Instruction is individualized to your child’s learning needs
  • Parent can focus on child’s strengths
  • Flexible schedule and setting
    • Take breaks as needed
    • Homeschool at any time of day
    • Homeschool anywhere - home, library, outside, coffee shop, etc.
    • Follow a year-round schedule with fewer school days per week
  • More time and flexibility for scheduling therapies
  • More time to spend on special interests
  • Home environment is safe and free of bullying
  • Parent has control over nutritional needs and allergen exposure
  • Parent can control the environment for sensory overstimulation
  • Decreased anxiety for your child
  • Decreased pathogen exposure for immune-compromised children

Cons to Homeschooling a Child with Autism

  • May not be possible due to loss of parent income
  • Parent may feel under-qualified to teach child
  • Child may not respond well to parent instruction, but will respond to a teacher
  • Parent is responsible for purchasing curriculum and materials
  • Homeschooling takes lots of planning and organization
  • Can be isolating and lonely
  • Socializing takes effort to plan
  • Lack of structure can be difficult for some children
  • Parent and child do not get a break from each other

Homeschool Curriculum Options

A wide variety of curriculum options and homeschool methods are available to tailor learning to your child. Parents should consider learning style and developmental appropriateness of the method when researching curriculum. Here are some general options you should consider:

  • All-in-one curriculum - same grade level and delivery method for all academics
  • Computer based learning programs
  • School-at-home style textbooks and workbooks
  • Eclectic - parents pick and choose parts of different homeschooling resources
  • Unschooling - driven by student interest and life experiences, not formal lessons

These websites provide free homeschool curriculum reviews:

Children that qualify for an IEP may count therapy hours as homeschool. Work with your therapy providers to conduct an independent assessment and create an in-home therapy treatment plan.

Socialization

Many parents worry about how their children with get peer interaction when homeschooling their child with autism. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Join a homeschool co-operative
  • Participate in local homeschool classes
    • YMCA
    • Zoo
    • Museums
    • Art classes
    • Gymnastics centers
    • Library reading times and groups
    • Book Club
    • Private homeschool groups
  • Join a sports team
  • Group music lessons
  • Playdates
  • Religious organizations
  • Find a local homeschool Facebook group and ask about local options

Sample Homeschool Schedules

There are endless ways to structure your day while homeschooling your child with autism. Check your state homeschooling regulations to find out how many hours per day and days per year you are required for each school year.

Example 1: Access to Community Supports (Academic)

8:00am            Breakfast

8:30am            Reading

9:00am            Math

9:30am            Sensory break

10:00am          Go to zoo science class

12:00pm         Lunch/cooking lesson

1:00pm            Special interest activity

2:00pm            Writing

3:00pm            Speech therapy          

Example 2: Access to Community Supports (Therapeutic)

8:00am            Breakfast

8:30am            Get dressed

9:00am            ABA therapy

12:00pm         Lunch

12:30pm         Reading with parent

1:00pm            Physical exercise

2:00pm            Occupational therapy

3:00pm            Group art class

Example 3: No Community Supports (Academic)

8:00 am           Breakfast

8:30 am           Morning movement activity

9:00 am           Math

9:45 am           Sensory break

10:15 am         Reading

11:00 am         Chores

11:30 am         Art or music

12:00 pm         Lunch/cooking

12:30 pm         Outside play/ PE

1:30 pm           Social Studies

2:00 pm           Board/card game

2:30pm            Science activity

3:15pm            Educational activity on electronics

Example 4: No Community Supports (Therapeutic)

8:00 am           Breakfast

8:30 am           Morning movement activity/Sensory diet

9:00 am           Reading with parent

9:30 am           Sensory break

10:00 am         Occupational therapy activities (sensory or fine motor: crafts, coloring, play-doh, pipe cleaners)

10:30 am         Educational activity on electronics

11:00 am         Life skills (chores, cooking, dressing, bathing, turn taking)

12:00 pm         Lunch

12:30 pm         Outside playtime

1:30 pm           Speech therapy activities (blow bubbles, articulation games, AAC practice)

2:00 pm           Math activity (sidewalk chalk counting/math, math board games)

2:30pm            Neighborhood walk with activity (count mailboxes, find an object of a certain color, work on communication)

3:15pm            Communication/social skills (phone call/video chat/email)

Conclusion

If you're considering homeschooling your child with autism, there are many options and factors to take into consideration. Nonetheless, with a little research and planning, homeschooling can be a rewarding experience for both you and your child.

Helpful Resources: