For some families, homeschooling a child with autism is a wonderful choice. How do you know if you're one of those families? Check out this list!
1. You Can Live Without Two Full Time IncomesIf you're already a single-income family, or one of you is working nights, weekends, or flexible hours, you may well be able to fit homeschooling into your life (assuming you're okay with occasionally ordering out for dinner or letting the housework slide). If, on the other hand, you're barely squeaking by on two salaries, you may find the change very difficult indeed.
2. You're Comfortable with the Role of TeacherFew homeschooling parents are ex-teachers. And most homeschooling parents find ways to share the load of teaching with partners, tutors, or community organizations. Some parents choose Cyber Homeschool programs that do the lion's share of presenting material, assigning homework, and even grading assignments. That said, though, you're still going to be a teacher, and it will be up to you to research and select the materials your child will use. In some cases, you'll be the one presenting that material. Is that okay with you?
3. You're Comfortable Taking Responsibility for Your Child's Educational OutcomesYour school district may be driving you up a wall and down the other side - but at least you know it's their responsibility to educate your child. If things don't go well, it's not entirely your fault. Once you take your child out of school, though, responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders to choose materials, present them, and find a way to get your child to understand the concepts you're teaching. Even if you make extensive use of homeschool groups, therapists, and even online educational options, the buck stops with you. Is that okay with you?
4. You Find the Idea of Teaching Your Child Exciting and EnergizingWhen we took our son out of school, we were exhausted from the constant meetings, confrontations, advocacy and frustration that made our lives feel like an endless roll of red tape. More importantly, though, the idea of teaching Tom at home was exciting - we had a million ideas that we wanted to try out.
5. You're Comfortable with the Idea of Teaching a Child with Special NeedsOf course, it's ideal if you actually have training in the field of education - but most parents of children with autism know more about special education than most trained teachers! That's because you've been in the trenches, you've read the books, you've attended the parent meetings... in short, you know your stuff. The question to ask yourself, though, is "will I feel comfortable in the role of teacher to my child with autism?" If the answer is yes, probably, maybe, or "I'll give it a shot" - give it a shot. The worst that can happen is that your child goes back to school.
6. You Have Resources Available to Help You Reach and Teach Your ChildIf you live in a community where there are homeschooling groups, social skills groups, consulting therapists and programs for homeschoolers (sports, music, and so forth) - you've got a great set of resources to draw on. If you're isolated, though, it could be very difficult indeed to put together a set of activities, programs and therapies that are right for your child. Before taking the leap, be sure you have a clear idea of what's available. If you've found good options, go for it!
7. You're Able and Willing to Network and TravelEven if you do find good resources nearby, chances are that you'll need to travel and network to find the perfect matches for your child with autism. The local sports program, for example, may be much less welcoming than a Challenger League program two towns away. You'll need to network with other parents to find out about the Challenger League - and then you'll need to travel to get there. In the long run, it's worth it - but if you're truly a homebody, you may find all that socializing and travel stenuous.
8. You're Flexible and CreativeHomeschooling is a creative process that requires parents to really listen to and understand their children's needs and abilities. Homeschooling a child with autism requires even more creativity, and the flexibility of a pretzel. You may think you'll have great luck with a Cyber Homeschool program, and then discover that your child's computer fixation is limited exclusively to gaming. You may think you've found the ideal curriculum, and then discover that portions are over your child's head or too simple. If you enjoy creating and flexing, you're making the right choice!
9. You Actively Like Your Child with AutismThis may sound like a strange requirement, but parents who love their children don't always like them. That's particularly true when your child is prone to aggression, tantrums, or general unwillingness to comply. When you think about the idea of spending a whole day alone with your child, and you can't wait, then homeschooling is for you! If you're not quite sure you can handle the WHOLE day, you can certainly find ways to get out and about - whether to the library, the gym, or the museum. If the idea of spending more than a few minutes alone with your child makes you nervous... well, you get the gist!