Is homeschooling the best option for autistic children?

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Jessica Sillers, Homeschooled K-12, Writer

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Rather than wondering if homeschooling is best for autistic children as a whole, ask yourself whether homeschooling is the best fit for your child and your family situation. Homeschooling will give you increased control over your child's learning environment, consistent one-on-one attention, and flexibility to pace your child's curriculum according to his or her needs. However, homeschooling also requires significant time investment, which can be hard if both parents work even part-time, and homeschooling families need to be proactive to offer enough social opportunities for students. Ask yourself: - Am I considering homeschooling for primarily academic or social reasons? Do I know where to find support from like-minded families in my area, and where to buy curriculum supplies? - Do I have time to research education materials, participate in homeschool support groups, and work closely with my child if he or she is not able to study independently? - Will homeschooling help me balance my child's education and any other regular needs, like therapy sessions? - If I am homeschooling to prevent my child being bullied, do I have a plan to build a supportive social environment? Are there options I can discuss with teachers or the school board to improve my child's school environment?

Considering I don't know where your child falls on the autism spectrum, consider what you know about his or her academic and career potential (I have known autistic students who excelled in graduate school, and others who will require care throughout adulthood)? Either homeschooling or traditional school enrollment can prepare your child for college and beyond. It's important to ask which option will offer your child the best support in the long run, regardless of the ups and downs of the current school year.

Good luck!

Celi Trépanier, Author, former public school teacher, homeschool mom and a passionate advocate for gifted children

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This would depend on the programs, support and services your school district provides for autistic children. Homeschooling is a very good option for many children, including autistic children, who are not receiving the education and accommodations they need in public school. Also, depending on the laws in your state, even if you do homeschool, your child may still qualify for special services through your public school system.

Jenny Bristol, Homeschooling Parent, Writer, and Editor

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It definitely depends on both what is available in your area, and your desire to homeschool in general. In many places, kids still qualify for services at the local schools, but autism is a spectrum, and where your child lies on that spectrum will also affect what is best for the child's education.

The Institute for the Redesign of Learning, Our mission is simple: to empower individuals with special needs to take charge of their own learning and lives, making it possible for them to be competent, caring and contributing members of society.

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While there are many advantages to homeschooling, the challenges our students with autism face (e.g., deficits in executive function and theory of mind, poor communication, misperceptions, and poor social skills to name a few) are better addressed in a setting in which the student receives their supports in real time and in a natural environment. That is not to say that a 1:1 environment is not beneficial at times, but we all know that parents of children with autism (including myself!!) can be very accommodating to our children; whereas their peers might not be. A school setting provides our students/children the opportunity to practice those skills in a natural setting where everyone is not as accommodating or flexible as mom or dad. However, this is absolutely a personal choice and this response should not be generalized to all students and families; this perspective is shared from the point of view as an Education Director at a school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.

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