More Than One Way
An IEP in public school is not the only path to educational success for your special needs child. I do not doubt or dispute that teachers in traditional schools are doing their very best in providing specialized therapies and services to special needs students. I am not debating this topic here. In this space I will explore teaching special needs students at home, without IEP’s, without any judgement of the amazing teachers that are serving kids in our public schools. I am not bashing the system, teachers who serve our children, or the families with kids in public school. My purpose is to encourage and support parents of special needs kids who want to do it a different way-to do it at home.
Yes You Can
Homeschooling can be intimidating. To say raising kids with special needs is tough, is an understatement. Is it truly possible and beneficial to bring these two worlds together? Yes! If you have a kids with special needs and want to homeschool, be encouraged. You can do it! It will take work to find and get support where and when you and your child need it. If you don’t have a diagnosis yet, consider getting one so you can begin to narrow down where to go get the help that you need. If you already have a diagnosis, you are already on your way.
Mama Knows Best
You are (and have always been) your child’s first advocate. You have primary and deep insight into their struggles and strengths. You want more than anyone in the world to see your child have a successful and fulfilling life. Because you are the most invested in our child, and know them best, you can successfully homeschool your special needs student, if you are committed to do the work and solicit assistance when needed.
Sometimes you can find information, support, resources, and guides online to exercises and therapies you can do on your own at home. Other times, you will need to call in the support of professionals. There will be seasons for various methods and practices. When you are in a period of needing professional help and start to feel burdened, take heart, in many cases it will not go on forever. When therapy is done privately, progress will look differently than what you might be accustomed to with an IEP. Everything will be more intense and financially tight while you drive to and from appointments. Everything will feel strained when you dedicate your family to doing the work at home to support your special needs student amidst your other responsibilities. The results will likely be more drastic and rewarding as well.
One of my sons was severely speech delayed. We got him set up through the early intervention system in our state. They provided in home speech and occupational therapy. We then moved on into an IEP in a local school. They worked really hard with him, but I didn’t see the progress I knew he was capable of. He was miserable and so was I. I pulled him out and we went to private speech therapy. I picked up It Takes Two to Talk: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays for myself to read, Signing Times videos to watch together, and no spill bubbles for him. I got to work educating myself so that I could work with him at home. I shared what I was learning with my husband and my sister who was watching him while I worked, and we all worked together to teach him how to talk. He progressed exponentially faster through our work and the private speech therapy than he did in the school environment. It was successful, and he learned how to talk, well.
One of my other sons struggles with dysgraphia. We were able to use Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy manual to help him with his writing. He will likely never be completely comfortable with a writing utensil in his hand, but he made huge progress in his writing and is not intimidated by writing the way he used to be. He is no longer scared when I say it is time to write and has much more confidence in himself. He is able to joke around and says that he is allergic to pencils. He learned how to type and recognizes when he feels that he needs to make an accommodation to be able to do his school work.
When you know what your child’s diagnosis is, visit the lists at the bottom this page for more information on some of the special needs. Check out my Pinterest Board on homeschooling with special needs.
If your child has a diagnosis that is not listed here, please consider sharing the need and any support info with me so I can get it up on the site for other parents who can benefit from your experience. For support in Colorado, please see this page for state resource listings. If you do not live in Colorado, and know of resources that can help other parents, please submit that information so that I can post it to help other parents in your state.
For information on how to get a special needs diagnosis and what to do after receiving one, check out the following resources:
kidsinthehouse.com-Getting a Special Needs Diagnosis Videos
National Institute of Health- How are learning disabilities diagnosed?
Children’s Inclusive Care Council of Amador and Calaveras All Children Are Special: How to Know When a Child Needs Help
Seattle Children’s Hospital- Getting Started After a New Diagnosis