Thursday, May 08, 2008

Educating children on the autism spectrum

If you are the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you have probably already had your fair share of educational struggles. Most parents feel overwhelmed at one time or another.....Autism and school often do not mix well. Children with autism have different academics strengths and needs as well as different learning methods. In addition to subject matter, adapting to a classroom and the array of interactions and stimulations in an institutional structure is often a challenge.

One mother said, “My emotions ran from guilt to defeat to exhaustion. I couldn’t stand answering his same questions over and over, or watching him ignore his room full of toys, preferring to peel the paint off of his dresser or the wall. I couldn’t stand to watch him get rejected by other children over and over. There were times when I wished I could just send him away to an autism boarding school. I hated autism, but felt guilty for even thinking it.”

The article goes on to describe one mothers experience with a child with autism's education.

The public school principal promised us the moon and stars and all the autism support we would need. We never got it. He was physically harmed, constantly teased, and his schedule was switched so often that it was confusing for him. Within the first quarter of the school year, my son was miserable. One night, as I was tucking him in, he looked up at me and said, “Mommy I hate school. I want to die.” That was it. I pulled him the next day and began homeschooling.

Although I had been reading about homeschooling for a number of years, and knew many of the methods, I had no idea what to do with my son. We needed help with our education plan. I considered unschooling, but knew that would be a disaster for a child who needed a set schedule just to get him through the day. The eventual abstract nature of classical learning would have been difficult for my concrete little boy. There were a number of good boxed programs out there, but at that point, just looking at a workbook or worksheet made my son shut down.

She then describes how she ended up using an ecletectic mix of materials including an online education program that has proved popular for special needs homeschooling.


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