There are many benefits of homeschooling special needs children, and some of them may surprise you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about homeschooling your child with special needs, let Shawna’s experience encourage you!
We had already been homeschooling for a year when we received my son’s autism diagnosis. While determining the next steps for therapies, possible medications, and support, people often asked when I would be putting him back into the school system.
“He needs the experts to help him.”
“How can you think you would be as capable as someone who does this for a living and with lots of different children?”
“You need to get him the help he needs socially. He has to go back to school.”
Honestly, it surprised me at first.
When we received my child’s autism spectrum diagnosis, one of my first thoughts was, “Thank goodness we decided to homeschool him.”
I knew homeschooling would allow him to progress at his own pace, and not face more of the bullying that had been a part of his everyday life in school.
But it seemed like no one else saw it the same way.
Now, almost a decade later, I am relieved and so grateful to share that homeschooling was, by far, one of the best decisions we ever made for both of my sons with special needs.
The Surprising Benefits Of Homeschooling Special Needs Children
Homeschooling a child with special needs is a lot like homeschooling any child – you figure it out as you go, and you learn what works and what doesn’t. The way homeschooling integrated itself as a significant part of my sons’ “treatment plans” surprised me the most.
Homeschooling Accommodates Social Differences
We are all accustomed to the old, stereotypical question for homeschoolers. “What about socialization?”
Believe me when I say, when your child has a diagnosis that affects social function, the question comes up all the time.
What has surprised me most is that homeschooling has provided both of my children with social differences options that are much more in line with their abilities and needs.
They can interact with other children in much smaller, quieter, and easier-to-follow conversations.
There is no bell that rings just when they start to make a connection with another child. They can talk and play with friends for as long as they like most days.
They can interact with other children at our home, where they are most comfortable and, therefore, better able to put themselves out there.
Socially, homeschooling has supported their development far more than any school ever could.
Flexible Schedules Mean Easy Access to Doctors And Therapists
Another benefit of homeschooling special needs children is that it has allowed us the best access to the best doctors and therapists in our area. Why?
Most of these professionals have long waiting lists. Many times, I say, “We homeschool and can make ourselves available for whatever works in the schedule.”
The receptionists love us. They appreciate the fact that our schedules are flexible, unlike most school children who need afternoon appointments squeezed into the packed calendar.
(Our occupational therapist started trying to find homeschooling families to fill her 11-3 time slots. She doubled her income by not sticking to the usual expectation of scheduling therapies after school.)
Special Needs Children Become Confident Learners
Perhaps the most significant benefit I have found in homeschooling my children with differences proved the most unexpected.
Homeschooling allows my boys to learn in the most logical ways for their natural abilities. This freedom instills in them confidence that I am sure would missing otherwise.
The focus of their education isn’t almost entirely on what they can’t do. As the boys have grown, more and more of our homeschooling has focused primarily on their strengths.
Not only have they learned more, but they are also more confident. My boys don’t see themselves as “dumb” or “incapable.” Instead, they recognize their unique gifts and capabilities.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how much homeschooling has helped my children in every area of their lives. If you are questioning the benefits of homeschooling special needs children, don’t. Please know, it matters.
It matters more than I ever thought possible.
If you homeschool a child with special needs, what are the most surprising benefits you’ve discovered?
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Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs. Shawna has written four books for parents of special needs – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She has also been featured in special needs discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, The Huffington Post and Autism Speaks. You can find her online at DifferentByDesignLearning.com. You can follow Shawna and Different By Design Learning on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.