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Mom looking for suggestions in dealing with homeschooling her two boys with autism:

    I am totally  frustrated and canít help wondering if I am making the right choice in home schooling my two boys with autism disorders.  I just started in January, but some days/most days I donít feel like much was accomplished and I find myself frustrated.  There seems to be no routine taking place yet.  They are not having the major  melt-downs that were taking place at or because of school.  This is great, but I donít feel like this is the answer either. 

  They both have problems sleeping, so mornings donít get started very early.  Trying to transition into anything almost seems impossible some days. I know there are sensory issues, but when I try to address those issues, it is almost worse trying to get them to move on.

Anybody else run into anything like this? If so, how do you handle it? Iíve gone from being really excited about this path, to feeling completely lost.

 

RESPONSE #1

    I've been homeschooling my five children for 17 years now, including my daughter who is now 15 and is ADHD, inattentive type. Homeschooling always starts off with great excitement, plans, resolutions and goals--and when things slow down later, we tend to feel as though we're not accomplishing much, and that in turn leads to frustration and doubt. No one can meet the unique educational and emotional needs of your boys as well as you can. Try to relax, and forget about starting early. Fortunately, homeschooling is almost 'round the clock in the sense that we can slip so much learning into daily living. Good luck!

    Peg Smiggles64@aol.com

 

RESPONSE #2

    Hello, friend. I am a mom who has always homeschooled her six children. My fifth child, an 11-year-old , is autistic. I KNOW how discouraging it can be, and perhaps my situation is better than many, but I believe yours will get better in time.

    The first thing that comes to mind is that often children with disabilities do not wish to grow out of them, stretch, become more than they are, etc. This can especially be true with autistic children. They can be quite content to live in their individual worlds, not emotionally or spiritually maturing, let alone academically. I used to say that every bit of development in Eden (my daughter) had to be pulled out of her like a bad tooth, me holding her still while she attempted to kick and scream. Eventually, this got better, and I actually (PTL PTL PTL PTL!!!!) see her making attempts to grow and learn on her own now. But for years this was not so. It required absolute diligence on my part, little interest on hers, and the additionally discouraging thing was that if I gave myself a week off out of exhaustion, she would regress. It didn't give me the hoped-for break after all, because now I had to double-time for a bit.

    All of this is not meant to dishearten you but to reassure you that if things are not coalescing into a routine, this is normal. The routine will have to be artificially created and maintained by you. Figure out what you can live with, what you can actually commit to on a continuing basis, and be prepared for any change to take months to see. I promise you that you are not alone, that many of us have walked this road and seen the beauty and benefit much later.

    I would also suggest that you do things in little bits and pieces. Keeping autistic children's attention is difficult (what an understatement LOL), so I never tried to keep us "at school" for hours at a time. I'd aim for 30 minutes of something, give us all a break, and get back to it in an hour or so for another 30 minutes. I would be happy to give some suggestions of things that helped Eden, both sensorally and scholastically, if you are interested. I have no idea what ages your boys are (I'm assuming they are twins?), or what they know already, so I don't know what level you are working with. I found that many things that you do with "normal" children are bewildering and pointless for autistic children, and many resources you would deliberately avoid using for "normal" children are just the ticket for our special ones.

    If you think there is anything I could help you with, please write back and ask specific questions. I'd be glad to be any sort of resource that I could. What often works is talking with many people. No one person will have all the answers for your particular family, but you may pick up one thing here, another thing there, and so forth.

    Others have probably mentioned these internet lists to you, but in case they haven't, I will. I am not at present a member of either, my time constraints and family needs not making it practical for me to follow busy lists, but PREACCH@yahoogroups.com  and AUT2BHOME are both resources. Both are full of parents of autistic children asking questions and sharing ideas. PREACCH is a Christian list; the other is not. However, that other one often has more information specifically related to homeschooling rather than diet, sensory integration, etc. Both may be helpful. I have the AUT2BHOME info somewhere; let me know if you'd like it and I'll hunt it down.

    Please know that you are not alone, that this enterprise is worth it, that the answers are out there.
Praying for you now--

Robin hear_oh_israel@yahoo.com

 

RESPONSE #3

To: 2 with autism

    I home taught five of our seven children (six of them had learning problems) and I have been home schooling our 12-yr. old grandson with severe autism. Our schools were totally unprepared to help him 8 years ago, and our other daughter has a five yr.old autistic also, and is beginning to hit walls with the school -- not to mention the amount of illness he brings home (last week was ring worm!). Be patient with yourself and them. With autism the gains are measured in tiny steps sometimes not seen for months or even years. I have been trying to teach Matthew letters and numbers since he was two and he still makes no connection with them since they are so abstract to him, but he loves to draw and is getting better every month.

    Your advances will be so gradual over time that you may not actually see them except in sudden moments way down the path. Don't get hung up on methodology and "the way" to get something across. Just keep trying and praying for direction. Home is the least restrictive environment for them.

    Sleeping was a HUGE problem for years. I was so sleep deprived I thought I would die! He woke up between six and twenty times a night -- after going to sleep past midnight, wandered around the house and often went outside (until we installed key locks on the doors inside) from a year old until he was just past ten. We use melatonin, "Calms Forte", and a magnetic bed pad made by Nikkan which really turned things around. He sleeps through the night most of the time. The magnetic pad really made the final difference. And when he began to sleep better I was able to deal with his needs better and see everything in a calmer light. Sensory issues have been a problem for years -- just do your best and gently keep redirecting them to something less stimulating. Hope this helps, good luck and God bless. Irene in VA   gni711@msn.com