So. I never ever ever in a million years thought I would be saying this, buuuut…. I’m thinking of homeschooling the kids. Or maybe just Sam to start. And maybe Sophie too, but maybe not. You see, autism is tricky, and the public school is tricky and the system is so very flawed (all systems are, right). And I’ve been feeling ALL of the emotions lately. We’re trying to figure out where Sam is going to be going for Kindergarten next year, and honestly? We have no idea. NO idea. We know the options available to us. Basically boiling down to a 1. Special Needs School, 2. Public School Special Education Class, 3. Private School with an Aide, or 4. Homeschooling. We have his IEP meeting (to determine public school placement) in a few weeks, and we’ll really know for sure what the district will offer us.
And I. Am. A. Mess. I literally feel so all over the place. I have honestly been trying so hard to think where I WANT him to be? And I just go back and forth. It’s SO hard to know the “right” place. And that’s coming from me (and Zack)- who know him the best out of anyone. If even we aren’t sure, how are the “professionals” who don’t know him at all (save for whatever information they have on a paper and from short assessments performed) supposed to be? It’s nerve-wracking. It’s all-encompassing lately. And I feel a bit lost.
We met with a friend who homeschools her boys (one of whom is on the autism spectrum, like Sam). She showed us her set-up, she explained their schedule, how he gets Speech and OT and ABA and goes to enrichment classes and they are free to explore and she can make sure he gets the sensory input he needs throughout the day (something they can’t do at school, not to the extent at which he should get), and there is just so much FREEDOM. And they get together with other homeschooling families, so there is lots of social interaction as well. And moreso, since they can really facilitate great play groups and activities that will cater to the specific child. As his mom, this sounds absolutely AMAZING.
As his mom, I am so invested in his growth. I want him to be independent. I want him to learn and thrive and show us his abilities- of which he has SO many. Because I am so invested though, this also scares me a little. I am SO emotionally invested in his growth, which I feel like with homeschooling, could be both a blessing and a curse? Like maybe I am TOO invested?
I don’t know. This is literally just all of my thoughts being poured into this blog post. Forgive me if I’m a little all over the place or not making much sense. That’s kind of how I feel right now, so I guess that is fitting.
Deep breath. SO. We will see where the district decides to place him. We will tour the placement and keep an open mind. We may even try it out and see how it goes- give it a shot- but honestly? Zack and I have been talking a lot, and praying about it, and I’m feeling more and more led to homeschool. Never thought I’d say that in a million trillion years, but here we are. Funny how life works, huh?
Nothing is set in stone, but it’s on the plate. And looking better and better the more research I do, the more I think about it and the more I pray about it. That’s the most important piece, right? We know what’s best for Sam, to succeed. To become independent. To grow and thrive.
And now we are just waiting and seeing where the Lord wants our journey to lead.
I would love to hear from any of you- do you homeschool? Do you teach special education? All of it, any of it. Please share your experience, your words of advice, your thoughts. I’m all ears.
I truly know how hard these decisions can be! I work in special education but also have a son that was in a Special Education Pre-k and had an IEP for pre-k and k. In my own case he never truly flourished until he was in a classroom with other children, teachers and therapists. The unknown was the scariest part for me before he started school. Would they meet his needs? Would they even care about this one little boy they didn’t even know? He ended up getting the most amazing teachers and I owe so much to those women! I really don’t think either decision will be “wrong”. He will do great either way. But being with him 24/7 with homeschooling I feel could be overwhelming for both of you. I just wanted to give a positive point of view on sending him to school. The environment alone helped my little boy so much.
I have these thoughts constantly too! Thank you for sharing, and for this completely valid and thoughtful viewpoint. I have been worried at each transition so far, with a new team of teachers/therapists, and so far it has all been nothing but wonderful and positive! I’m just so grateful to know that we have options and are never “stuck” with anything if it isn’t right.
I just stopped by to say you are not alone. My son does not have autism, but he has apraxia of speech and he receives speech therapy and OT through his IEP at the preschool level. He will be transitioning to kindergarten next school year and I’m terrified. He is 5 and he has been at a developmental preschool with a 50:50 typical peer ratio through our school district since age 3. He won’t qualify for speech any longer but he has been delayed in so many other areas due to the speech delay (hand writing, letter recognition, etc) and we are still playing catch up. We are in Ohio and my mom is a former special education teacher and we are STILL trying to navigate the system. Do you have any local support groups for IEP or 504 plan parents that you can reach out to? Most educational rules and/or regulations are set through your state legislators. I can totally understand wanting to home school if you think your son will not receive what he needs at school. We are not planning to home school but if there is one thing I have learned in the last 5 years, it’s to never say never! Good luck! :::HUGS:::
It’s always terrifying, just the entire transition to a new program! The unknown can be so daunting. Praying yours goes smoothly and you find exactly what your sweet boy needs to thrive! Yes, I’m in quite a few Facebook and support groups that are so helpful! And amen to that, definitely never say never!
I am just about finished with my first year homeschooling and although I was super nervous in the beginning, I can honestly say it has been the best decision ever! He is only in kindergarten, but I feel confident that this will be our path at least until high school. We did not have any confidence in the public school system here and couldn’t imagine sending him or our other two there in the future. Narrowing down the curriculum you want to use is probably the hardest part of it because there are so many amazing programs. The absolute best part has been the freedom of it all! We can go the park after school everyday, library story times, museums and nature centers when they aren’t busy. I honestly can’t say enough good things about it! Only you know what’s best for your babies, but just know if you choose homeschooling, you are definitely up for the task! I was so nervous that I was doing him a disservice since I wasn’t an actual teacher but he has thrived this year and just learned and soaked up so much! All the family together time is such a bonus as well, as opposed to him being away for 7 hours every single day. Praying you come to the right decision for your family!
Honestly, with all of his therapies, that is what I feel so strongly that we’ve missed so much: the family time. I’m thinking homeschooling would be so great for us, and as I dive deeper into it, my heart really is feeling led that way! Eeeek, we shall see! I just love that I have the confidence that I was lacking before- like, YES, I CAN do this, if we decide to. And that freedom right there is LIBERATING and exciting! It’s everything! Thank you for sharing your positive experience- it’s so nice to hear! :)
I have NO idea what your school district is like, but as a seasoned autism consultant for a school district and BCBA, I can say don’t underestimate special educators. You may run into a dud or two, but all in all, most of us care a lot and have a lot to offer. Raising a child with autism takes a village and sometimes other school professionals see things the parents don’t. One of my little ABA tots just started pre-K and he is THRIVING! He does things in the classroom with his SpEd teacher and aides that none of us have seen before (even in our clinic!). My own (neurotypical) child shocks me with what his teachers report he can do when I’m not around. I do believe that sometimes these kids blow our minds when handed over to the right teachers. Also, I think once kids age out of intensive ABA years of early intervention it becomes important to be around lots of typical peer models and adjust to school routines. The ultimate goal is for our kiddos to be as independent as possible, right? But that’s just my take and only you will be able to gauge the competency and your comfort with the programs available to you. Also, if your heart is in homeschooling, go for it. You can’t go wrong, you will land where you need to be eventually.
So good to hear all of this! Yes, the ultimate goal is absolutely independence. Thanks for your perspective and experience- so helpful!
Aww hang in there! You’re doing great, and totally understandable all the worries and questions you have! While I can’t speak directly to the American school system (I work as an education assistant in Canada- called a Teaching Assistant where you are?), I can speak to the fact that the right supports within a public school can make a very positive impact for the student. That being said, there are positives and hardships with what I do; so cudos for you for doing your research! Keep praying about it! Also, have you heard of Hybrid Homeschooling? I’d never heard of this option until recently, but does your district/state allow for part time homeschooling/ part time public school? Insta accounts: the rambling redhead and COTTONSTEM have some interesting info about what they do!
That is very interesting, and no I haven’t heard of hybrid homeschooling, but basically since Sam is on the spectrum, we would kind of have it set up like that, with homeschooling and also ABA therapy, speech and OT, as well as enrichment classes. We shall see! Thanks for that info- I’ll look into those accounts! :)
I have friends in Iowa who dual enroll. She has a few children on the spectrum. I don’t recall the details, but they’re able to go to the school for certain classes and assistance and homeschool for everything else!
Homeschooling is amazing!!! I’m a homeschool grad myself (with a masters degree!) and we’re homeschooling our 6 children. I don’t have an autistic child, but my six-year-old is a type one diabetic. He has a huge amount of medical needs that need met every single day. I cannot tell you the amount of relief it brings to have him home with me where I can manage his care, instead of having to entrust him to a nurse who may or may not know what she’s doing, and all the bullying that comes from kids. Homeschooling is WONDERFUL! It’s not as hard as it seems. It’s a gift to live in a country where we can homeschool. Go for it!!
Amazing, Carolyn!! So nice to hear such positivity! :) I can imagine the relief it brings you to be able to manage his care. I can definitely understand that! Thank you for sharing.
I was a Special Education teacher in the Bay Area for 6 years before having kids. The class I taught was self-contained language enriched for K-1. I loved the class and teaching but you’re right- the system can be a real challenge. My specific program was so wonderful but I heard a couple years after I left that they changed it completely. There are some great classes/teachers/programs, but also a lot of tricky things to navigate. There was also a ton of turnover with the special ed teachers, OTs, psych, and SLPs and I don’t know if that was just because we were in a challenging district without a ton of support or that’s the norm across the board. I hope that you find an option that feels best for Sam!
The turnover is definitely never a good thing. Thank you for sharing your experience! I agree, it always comes down to the teacher(s) and aides and we’ve been so blessed to have some amazing ones so far! Praying about it, for sure.
I am a public school teacher, and I love my job and strive to do the best I can for every child. However, as parents you ultimately know what is best for your child. If you feel strongly about homeschooling, and it sounds like you do, pursue that. Many areas have a strong network of homeschool families, and you have mentioned in other posts about your involvement in a local church, so your child will have interactions with other children. Follow your heart.
Thank you for this thoughtful and kind comment! Still deciding what we’ll be doing, but it’s always nice to know there is no “finality” in any of it- we just have to take it day by day! I know the main thing is to find a teacher and aides who love their job and love the kids- that’s the most important thing. :) We shall see!!
You can so do it! IF you want to. I was homeschooled from 1-12 grade and now hold a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership, was a K-6 teacher for ten years, and now am a university instructor. My point is – homeschooling can be so effective! I loved it and the years of being home with my mom and sisters were the best. I think what’s good to remember is that you can always do something different if you don’t like it. Homeschooling has blown up lately, with so many resources and social opportunities for your kids! If you think it’s best for your family, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Best wishes <3
You can so do it! IF you want to. I was homeschooled from 1-12 grades and now hold a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership, was a K-6 teacher for ten years, and now am a university instructor. My point is – homeschooling can be so effective! I loved it and the years of being home with my mom and sisters were the best. I think what’s good to remember is that you can always do something different if you don’t like it. Homeschooling has blown up lately, with so many resources and social opportunities for your kids! If you think it’s best for your family, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Best wishes <3