Homeschooling often provides the most conducive environment for children with autism to succeed. Of course, even within the homeschool environment, such kids have specific needs that must be met for them to thrive both academically and personally. The good news is you can get some smart strategies designed to encourage both, as well as your own wellbeing as the teacher/parent/guardian, below.
Make smart use of your child’s special interests
Many children with autism have a special interest. Being engaged in this interest is often something that they find helpful and calming. The good news is that as an educator this presents a unique opportunity for engagement with learning. Indeed, by using your child specialist interest as a jumping-off point you can ensure excellent focus and motivation no matter what subject you are covering.
For example, say your child’s special interest was cars. You can use this as a foundation for a history project covering famous automobile inventors such as Karl Benz, or a project addressing the industrial revolution and Henry Ford.
Similarly, you could teach math problems like measurement in terms of volume of gas needed for a journey, and even science by covering inertia and the combustion engine. You can even cover social studies topics such as ecology and the impact that car driving culture has on this when compared to the freedom and logistics infrastructure that it offers. The options really are endless and can make learning much more relevant and successful for your autistic child.
Seek help and support from others
Sometimes being a homeschool mom can feel isolating, especially when your kid has a special education need. The thing here is that it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it all on your own.
In fact, it is totally OK to outsource some aspect of your child’s education such as teaching them to play an instrument. Indeed, doing so can help provide valuable opportunities for social interaction as well.
Also, remember that as an autism homeschooler you don’t have to reinvent the wheel as there are a whole host of experts and educators like Jerry Jellig that have strategies that can be applied to homeschooling and special education needs situations. It really is OK to use them, and in return, you can share your own knowledge and experience to help build a better community of parents and careers offering homeschooling to kids with autism.
Encourage peer support
While innate social skills may not be strong in those with autism, social interaction is still important. Indeed, providing plenty of opportunity for social interaction can help develop and build upon these skills, something that can make a huge difference to the quality of your child’s life both now and in the future.
With that in mind, building chances to interact socially into the homeschool curriculum is vital, and often the best way to do this is via peer support. In fact, such support can be facilitated online in groups for homeschool and/or autistic children, something that can reduce the stress involved and provide a much happier experience for your child.