Not all children with an autism spectrum disorder are sent to a public or private school. For a variety of reasons, many families choose to homeschool their autistic child. When a parent is considering the option of homeschooling her child, finding resources to help can be time-consuming. Whether choosing between a homeschool program and school outside the home or finding an autism-friendly curriculum, having a set of resources together in one readily accessible place makes the entire process easier.
Choosing to Homeschool
For some parents, the decision to homeschool their child with autism is easy. These parents have always envisioned teaching their child at home and the autism diagnosis does not change these plans. Other parents may choose to send a child to school for the early grades but due to bullying or other issues, choose to continue their child’s education at home.
Another common reason that parents use when deciding to homeschool is the child’s diet. Many times children on the autism spectrum are on a special diet – from the Feingold Plan to the gluten-free/casein-free (GCFC) diet, managing special eating plans in a school-setting can be difficult. By choosing to educate the child at home, there is no concern that a slip-up in the child’s diet may happen.
Some parents that choose to homeschool follow a set curriculum. Sometimes called “school at home”, the use of a curriculum can help parents provide an element of structure to their homeschool program. A popular curriculum method that some parents use is participating in a virtual school. One such school, the Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) offers a free online curriculum for Arizona-based parents to use with their children from Kindergarten through grade 12.
For those looking for a more traditional homeschool curriculum, the Charlotte Mason method is one of the more popular programs used by families of children with special needs including autism. The Charlotte Mason method uses literature-based instruction as opposed to traditional textbooks as part of its program.
A family that is considering the option to homeschool their child with autism should look into their state’s laws regarding homeschooling. Some states have very lax laws requiring nothing more than a notification that a child is being homeschooled while others require regular testing and reports to the state. To determine what your state’s homeschool requirements are, contact the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) at (540) 338-5600.
Homeschool and Therapy Options
Even though you may choose to homeschool your child, the child can also receive therapies through your local public school under the guidance of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The local public school district is responsible for providing therapy to all children that qualify for such services, regardless of where the child is being educated. If you would like to have your child assessed for speech, occupational or physical therapy contact the special education department of your local school district.
As autism is becoming more prevalent, the amount of children with autism being homeschooled is also rising. As a result, more attention is being given to creating optimal homeschool curricula that parents can use to educate their autistic child.
This article originally appeared on Suite101.com in August 2008.