Jump to content


Question for those with high school aged kids with ASD


Recommended Posts

I've got lots of questions here! First, background....

I've got an almost-10-year old DS who is on the spectrum and has no cognitive delays. He can do grade-level (this year, 4th grade) reading & math. I've been homeschooling him for 2 years now and have yet to do any formal history or science lessons with him. My primary focus up to this point has been strengthening his reading comprehension. I've done a lot of history & science through reading, but it's been limited to neat places/people and neat animals. This is great for elementary school but as he gets older....

So...my question is --- for those who've homeschooled their kids through high school, what is a reasonable academic program as we move forward, especially if we're not sure whether or not higher ed is in the picture for him. I'd like to think it's a possibility if he wants to go for it, so I want to make sure he is prepared. However, I'm also open to the idea that maybe college won't be in the cards for him, in which case, I'd just like him to be educated enough to do things like get a job, vote, etc. 

What kind of program did you follow for history & science? Did you follow the 4-year cycle of classical education? I've found that DS has trouble reading about historical events because he can't picture them or there's so much background info I have to fill in, he forgets what the main point of the lesson is. (Example: Reading about the Golden Spike that united the transcontinental railroad. Had to describe what transportation was like back then; had to describe how hard it was to blast away bits of mountain to lay the tracks; had to do a quick review of geography.... By the time I circled back to the actual Golden Spike, I had completely lost him!)

And then, how do you balance getting all the subjects in with (I'm assuming here) all the different therapy appointments? I find my days are often cut short because we've got to run to ABA. 

(My post comes from reading all the 2019-2020 planning threads and realizing that there's not much I can pull from them for my kid because he goes at a slower pace.)

Thanks for any advice!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My son is a freshman, and we're struggling a bit, but in other ways, we're fine. It's a lot in how you look at it, and somewhat a real concern academically. He wants to be a mechanic, and he'll probably be fantastic at it. He even knows where he wants to go to school. We're planning for him to go part-time (at least) to the local career center to get some training, and then he wants to go to a 2-year vocational school after that. Our local vocational school has a good reputation, and I hear better and better things about it all the time. As a friend told me Friday, "Our kids aren't weird to them." I had hoped to leave the college door open, and realistically, it's probably not going to be his thing. If I fall a bit short, he can always go to a community college first. Our biggest thing is writing. It's very difficult for him. The next would be retaining and using math. He has enormous math potential, but how it sticks is very, very eclectic.

Working on reading comprehension is a big, big deal and a great place to put your time.

History--try to find really high interest documentaries, even if they are indirect (doesn't have to be a timeline sort of history video or even about events/people--can be about cars). It helps my son a great deal. He's very interested in how things have changed over time with inventions and such. Then pair them with readings or circle back with readings. Another option might be to do a curriculum that integrates history and fiction more deeply than a book on this or that interesting person. 

My son really liked Notgrass middle school stuff. He didn't do all the literature, but he did the history, timelines, and maps. It has a lot of pictures. 

You might do a few experiential history things--I have a book on pioneers, for instance. It has a lot of good history, geography, practical information (how they ate on the trail), and then some projects. My son really thinks about all the practical stuff of how things work and why things were invented. He's just super, super practical.

We haven't done that well with "interest led" work--it was always a rabbit hole. That doesn't mean that my son has not used his special interest himself as an organizing principle to learn new things. It's like everything can somehow go back to a car or something that pre-dates the car in some way. He is also just really interested in gadgets and such--he'll watch things like Antiques Road Show and glean interesting background information on things.

I have not tried this, but some people do movies as literature--I think there are even some curriculum options for this. I am not sure that it will help my son much--I think his issues will also be there for movies. He has trouble with understanding the main parts and details in a plot.

We've used a lot of Ellen McHenry for middle school science. She has tons of games built into her stuff as well as extra hands-on things to do. My kids don't always do all the games, but they are very applicable to the topics and are intended to help with familiarity.

I think anytime you can build background knowledge, it's a great thing to do. I am fortunate that my son picks that up easily.

As for appointments--we count some of that as school, and we take as much as we can in the car, whether it's easier work that is portable or it's an audio book for history or something. 

I hope something in here helps. It's hard because our kids can be so alike in some ways and totally different in others.



  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, 2Peanuts said:

I've found that DS has trouble reading about historical events because he can't picture them

It sounds like you need to look into Verbalizing/Visualizing. Also you could get his eyes checked by a developmental optometrist. There can be this cascade where retained reflexes result in vision not developing properly which results in visual processing and visualization not developing. And, as you're finding, visualization is a powerful component in reading comprehension and using visual memory. So you'd go to a developmental optometrist (COVD) to get his eyes screened and you can find the V/V materials through Lindamood Bell/Gander Publishing.

5 hours ago, 2Peanuts said:

how do you balance getting all the subjects in with (I'm assuming here) all the different therapy appointments? I find my days are often cut short because we've got to run to ABA. 

Reality is you have to focus on the most important things. It also sounds like you're getting history in, just maybe not in the way other people talk about on the boards.

6 hours ago, 2Peanuts said:

reading all the 2019-2020 planning threads

Yup, good way to guilt yourself and get all wacky and off-track. You have to school your child in integrity, exactly as he is, just as those people are meeting their children where they are. It's ok that he's going at a slower pace or has some other focuses, because the things you're putting your energy into are THE MOST IMPORTANT.

This is a good age to be nurturing strengths. For things you're not hitting at all or even reasonably enough (art, science, whatever), pick a season, do it for a while, then rotate to the next thing. I used to do blocks of science or art with my dd during "May Term" or summer to make up for what we weren't getting done during the school year. It was fun and good enough. But beyond that, I would add things that speak to strengths, skills he might not realize he could develop. I'm doing Cooking to Learn with my ds this year. How is your ds on life skills? Or get the Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction books and let him work on those. Snap Circuits. Whatever really floats his boat.

I've been doing a lot of playing card games with my ds this year. We're thinking long-term about social and how he'll interact with people as he goes into adulthood. We introduced him to snorkeling (he already swims) and I've suggested he might like to pursue scuba at some point. That too has good social. So that's where I'm putting our energy. I can't do everything, so I'm very calculating about what is important for the long-term. Memorizing lists for history is not valuable to him, but having hobbies he can do with others IS highly valuable. He might be on the spectrum, but he doesn't want to be ALONE. 

I think let the question of college answer itself. Your dc is so close to grade level, he's probably right on that line where he can if he wants to. He'll sort that out. He might do it just a year or two later, or he might like some kind of vocational program. Entrance into those is going to be with basic proficiency for math and reading, which he sounds like he's on track to have. If you're doing narrative language along with your reading, then hopefully his writing will be on track. 

6 hours ago, 2Peanuts said:

Did you follow the 4-year cycle of classical education?

Ok, I out and out hate history, but my personal opinion is that some kids are fine with anything, some kids like the WTM cycles, and some kids are better with a WEM (topics across time) approach. The latter makes the most sense with ASD. So if you want to read/prep anything, that's what I would be doing. I would look for engaging narratives on topics he's into that happen to go across time. It sounds like he has some real deficits in visualization. One of the issues with history for me was that instruction had been so linear that I had NO CLUE that things overlapped! I also like really concise, outline-style instruction like the VP cards, because they give you a clear framework, pins, and a concrete, something you can wrap your brain around. I never could deal with this idea of history as a fractal of never-ending narrative, and people who like history LIKE the fractal nature of it, that as you dig in there's more and more detail. I just get lost in that. 

So anyways, no the 4 year WTM cycle is not necessary. It's laudable, but it's not even going to be memorable to some kids. Figure out how his brain works and what would make it stick. For me, they should have done "musicals across time" or something, haha. Like totally seriously, that works for me. And it's your WEM, study a topic across time.

6 hours ago, 2Peanuts said:

a reasonable academic program

My two cents on this is to make some philosophical goals, and then the content will sort out. Like really think HARD here about the outcome you want, the really really big goals. I'm sure they won't be content. For my dd (19 now, in college) I wanted her to connect herself as a lifelong learner of those topics and to figure out how she related to them, how they would interest it. We succeeded at that, and she's now game to learn all kinds of things, an eager learner. For my ds, I think the goals will be more social in application. I really haven't gotten that far. His support level is 2, and his understanding of the world is kind of confused still. A lot of my vision right now is just to clarify how he understands the world. (who is in charge, what we can be passionate about, whether we care what it teaches us about people and life, that kind of thing) If he just understands his place in the world and relates to people a bit as a result, we'll have done really well. I don't have any application aspirations for him at all (writing papers, college, etc.) and he has a gifted IQ. It's just not his reality. And if he can work at a scuba shop or something and have conversations and travel with friends, play cards, that's good enough. I'm making a good LIFE for him, not a report card. I'm literally going through everything he needs for a life (living skills, leisure skills, conversation skills, etc.) and going ok let's nail this. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much, kbutton and Peter Pan, for your replies! They’ve given me good food for thought and feelings of “Whew...I think I’ll (he’ll) be ok!” 

I love the idea of using videos & documentaries. I’ll have to do some research on that. And Peter Pan, I’ve been using V&V with great success with my kiddo. I pair that with IEW’s writing program, which has been super successful for us. 

Thank you for the encouragement!!!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...