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New to homeschooling 8 year old with autism


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Hello, I'm new to this forum. Just looking for suggestions about homeschooling an 8 year old boy with ASD. He has been in public school since age 3 and done well until last year in 1st grade, when his daily silly behaviors got in the way of him completing his school work in the classroom. I tried working with the school to add sensory breaks in, but they weren't too much on board with that. Anyway, then Covid hit and he came home in the spring for remote learning. So now we are homeschooling him and I am feeling the weight of being responsible for his education heavily on my shoulders. 

I'm looking for suggestions on books to read for myself to get a grasp on everything here, especially as it relates to autism and homeschooling. I know I just have to focus on this year, this semester, this month, this week, this day, this lesson to get thru, but I also feel like I need an overarching vision or plan (one that can be amended if needed).  I'm not really wanting to be winging it here....

Thanks in advance....

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Does he have an IEP or 504 plan? Do you have recent testing for language or other areas he might struggle in?

I pulled my son at age 9, just after we got his diagnosis. Silly was a big problem for us, but ADHD meds helped a great deal. 

Finding the right level of challenge also helped--sometimes silly is a cover for being anxious about work. It can also be hard because the same kid can have something go easily one day and be harder another, and that arbitrary success is really difficult to process for a child that age with ASD. 

Are you having issues with specific subjects? Behavior? Selecting materials? 

Is he getting any therapy for his sensory issues?

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Well ironically, I was just flipping through a book of that title (homeschooling a dc with autism) at the library. Apparently I wasn't impressed, as I didn't bring it home.

4 hours ago, Erincmc said:

but I also feel like I need an overarching vision or plan (one that can be amended if needed).  I'm not really wanting to be winging it here....

Why do you feel like you're winging it? 

Or to back up one step, I think the difficulty in this is that autism is really broad. What is his support level? Is he verbal? Was he mainstreamed? Did he require an IEP and academic goals? Or more to the point, is he doing traditional curriculum or is he really off the grid?

The more off the grid you need to be to meet his needs, the harder this gets, definitely. If you're saying you're winging it with the autism, that's important too. 

4 hours ago, Erincmc said:

his daily silly behaviors got in the way of him completing his school work in the classroom.

I'm just curious, is he doing this now? My ds is on some meds for anxiety, some supplements, etc., and yeah he has pushed more toward the silly side. But if you're at no meds, maybe like Kbutton says some adhd meds or maybe he was covering up for his real issues. What do *you* think is underlying the silliness?

Have you ever looked into interoception? https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/  Working on this creates a *foundation* for work on behavior with Zones of Regulation, narrative language with Story Grammar Marker, social thinking, anything else you want to make happen. So if you want something foundational you can do in 8 weeks (before Christmas!) that will make a huge difference and open up a lot of other things, there you go.

Has he been tested for retained reflexes? Is it possible to work with him? I guess we should back up there. My ds was basically feral and exceptionally hard to work with till we got his reflexes integrated. But it sounds like your ds was mainstreaming, in the classroom, not having meltdowns, not having aggression. And he's verbal? Lots of good stuff there. How is the reading going? Other academics?

Your big challenge here is that you're trying to become an expert in two things simultaneously:

-homeschooling

-autism

So my advice, just to dispense some, is to hire/seek whatever you're not nailing. You'll only get so much done, so bring in help. Don't tell yourself you have to do it all by yourself. Homeschooling is not ALONE SCHOOLING. So don't do it ALONE. Hire help and bring in professionals. They'll know jack squat about homeschooling and they may make some things worse if you let them. But they could also help you catch things you're not catching and they might help you feel better about these issues like timeline, how to know you're doing the right things, what to focus on, etc.

In other words, you might want to get him qualified for ABA and hire a homeschool friendly behaviorist. I'm not saying give Johnny DTT and hours of ABA. I'm just saying if you find the right person who does *umbrella* ABA, you might find them helpful, even if it's mainly to make sure you're on track and get a break each week.

The other piece of advice I'll dole out is that, no matter what, you are an expert in your ds. You're now spending quite a bit of time with him, so you're going to become very intuitive on things. Trust your gut and your sense of what will fit him or be appropriately challenging to him. YOU are becoming the expert on your ds, and with the challenge of thinking things through with other people, you can probably have a good plan and make things happen. You can get that help here and you can get it by hiring it. It's ok to do both. It's ok to hire someone and fire them or go through three someones, lol. Try word on the street to find the right person.

Ok, then my personal advice? Besides trusting your gut and not being afraid to bring in help...

-deal with the most foundational things first

-don't trust blithe answers that don't ring true to you

-do things in chunks

-invest in things you can do together

-play together

-don't worry too much about academics. Focus on the really important things for long term. 

-take care of yourself

-don't drink

There you go. Do those things and everything will be FINE.

Edited by PeterPan
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4 hours ago, Erincmc said:

I am feeling the weight of being responsible for his education heavily on my shoulders. 

PS. What is working and what isn't working?

4 hours ago, Erincmc said:

I'm looking for suggestions on books to read for myself to get a grasp on everything here

https://www.amazon.com/Uniquely-Human-Different-Seeing-Autism/dp/1476776245/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=prizant+autism&qid=1602978106&sr=8-2  That's your overall head on straight about autism book.

I don't know, I have tons of books on autism and therapy topics and I just, I don't know. None of them really say what should be said. I think just go to the library if you want stuff in general about autism. You can get book about homeschooling, but nothing I've ever read looks like what I do with my ds. And the more the challenges are, the more off the grid and less likely to fit the homeschooling books are. And it's not going to help you to try to *shove* him into a method or system or whatever.

So I go back to my earlier question about what is working and what isn't? It just depends on how your dc functions. There are kids with ASD (support level 1 obviously) who can do curriculum. They may be really quirky about it, shying away from certain components, refusing things, wanting to hyperfocus on interests, and all that's fine. But you can actually go buy a math curriculum or whatever and they can do it. 

My ASD2 ds has SLDs, and he requires significant support for academics. Everything has been modified, everything is different. Where my dd actually had a list of curriculum, with ds I have this quixotic basket that we work through, some notebooks of pages I made, and therapy/intervention goals that I'm constantly trying to apply to any situation I can. And honestly, that's not an uncommon scenario, and you start to realize that's what you're hearing about when you meet these really off the grid homeschoolers. They're working with undiagnosed autism.

So if you have to go really off the grid, it's just responding to the dc, not being a bad homeschooler. You just look at your dc and do what they need. You only have to teach ONE. Or do you have more? But you only have to solve ONE. I don't have to understand EVERYBODY'S autism and situation because I just need to work with mine.

 

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The foundational things are (not an exhaustive list)

-interoception/self awareness

-social thinking

-self regulation 

-behavior (including self-advocacy and ability to function throughout the day)

-routines that work

-independence

-transition to work

-narrative language which is esssential for both academics and self-advocacy

-work skills, including soft skills

-independent living skills

So there are some kids who need less in some of those areas and some kids who need a lot in all those areas. And honestly, I don't know of any book on homeschooling autism that tells all this. It's stuff that typically is done by a TEAM in the ps. So you're asking how to CLONE yourself and become a whole IEP team. Sound exhausting? There's a reason, lol. 

So if you want to learn about those things, that's a list to start with. Read professional books on each thing and start going to workshops. Or hire it done. Being your whole IEP team will be exhausting. Consider building a team and getting help.

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21 hours ago, PeterPan said:

The foundational things are (not an exhaustive list)

-interoception/self awareness

-social thinking

-self regulation 

-behavior (including self-advocacy and ability to function throughout the day)

-routines that work

-independence

-transition to work

-narrative language which is esssential for both academics and self-advocacy

-work skills, including soft skills

-independent living skills

So there are some kids who need less in some of those areas and some kids who need a lot in all those areas. And honestly, I don't know of any book on homeschooling autism that tells all this. It's stuff that typically is done by a TEAM in the ps. So you're asking how to CLONE yourself and become a whole IEP team. Sound exhausting? There's a reason, lol. 

So if you want to learn about those things, that's a list to start with. Read professional books on each thing and start going to workshops. Or hire it done. Being your whole IEP team will be exhausting. Consider building a team and getting help.

I wanted to point out that this excellent list is applicable across autism levels, but the volume on each of these items is going to be set differently for each child. Working on all these areas will translate into better academics as well as better life skills.

Both of my kids have/had significant executive functioning challenges with ADHD (only one has autism), and I have NEVER regretted the investment in life skills. Life skills can bring in language, problem-solving, planning, physical therapy and OT, etc. It's the ultimate tool for generalizing skills.

That said, we still did focus on academics, heavily at times. But academics are a lot harder when a child can't regulate their bodies or problem-solve. In our case, life skills mostly looked like age and ability-appropriate chores, not specific therapy. Some kids need more foundation stuff, but it's still a life skill and a chore for them--it's a skill that's needed to make them do life well.

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