Monday, March 29

Homeschooling Through Autism and Special Needs

What if your child isn't going to get a diploma when it comes time for graduation? What are your options? What does it mean in the grand scheme of things? Is it even necessary for your child to need a diploma? These are serious questions many parents have to ask themselves when it comes to their child with autism as they approach adulthood.

At this point in your homeschool, you should know your child's developmental age and be working at that level. This is, most likely, what brought the he's not going to be ready to get a diploma at graduation to your attention. After taking a deep breath, remember your child. We have to do what's best for our children at all times. Put your blinders on for anything else. It's not all doom and gloom. You have some options...

Non-Diploma Options for Graduating

Keep Homeschooling
Children with special needs are allowed to go to public school until the age of 21. Just adapt it to your homeschool. Just keep homeschooling at their level. You have a few choices at this point. You can graduate them with everyone else at age 18 and not award a diploma at that time then continue working until you meet graduation requirements. No one says you have to stop working just because they are now 18. If public school kids can do it then why not homeschool ones.

Change out their Curriculum for a Job-Oriented One
You could possibly still do graduation with this one depending on where you live. I've graduated kids in two states, Florida and Arizona. Neither state had requirements for home school diplomas. The requirements usually only come into play when college is involved. If your child is able and willing then work towards an apprenticeship somewhere or a job training program.

Admit that They Won't Graduate 
This sounds super mean but it's not my intent. Some kids aren't going to graduate no matter what you do. Perhaps working on life skills is a better use of your time. The more our kids with autism can do for themselves, the safer they are from people who don't have their best interests at heart. Safety is far more important than graduation and a diploma.

It may be more important to put supports in place to help the child live semi independently than getting a diploma. If the child, as an adult, is never going to be able to hold a job then a diploma is not going to help in any fashion. It's a bitter pill to swallow when you come to that realization so give yourself all the time you need to work through it.

Maybe putting a life plan in place for where they will live as adults is your best option. Having a plan in place for when you can no longer care for him through illness or death is always a good idea regardless of school. You know your family situation better than anyone. Do what's right for your family and rest in the knowledge that you did your best. Don't let anyone tell you anything else.

Graduate at a Later Date
Who says you can't have a graduation at a later date? Why would it be less of a celebration because the child is older than the usual graduation age? I would celebrate even more knowing how much work the graduate put into it. You can always have the child take the GED test if you want him to have something other than a homeschool diploma. I say celebrate even if he's 50 when he finishes. Even slow progress is still progress.
How do I handle people who ask?

In this instance, you will get people, family and others , who will ask the inevitable question. Is he going to graduate? When is graduation? Will he live at home forever? People are so nosy and condescending sometimes.

As with anything autism, it's best to practice your response before it comes up. The answer varies based on whether my child with autism is with me or not. I would never say "No, he's not ready yet" in front of Logan. I would simply say something along the lines of "God has a plan for everyone including Logan. " Don't give a long explanation. This opens up your decision for interpretation and debate. Make it know from the beginning that it's not. Keep your head high. Always remember that slow progress is still progress.

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1 comment:

  1. I really like the way you've gone about this. I've not had autistic or special needs kids of my own, but I have friends who do and who struggle with these decisions. Thank you.


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