Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This Is What Special Needs Homeschooling Looks Like

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Noah officially hit the age where mandatory declaration was required by the State regarding his educational status.   My line in the sand of do we send him off to a public school or do we homeschool?  Really the answer for us has been really apparent for many years.  Noah was never comfortable in a school-like setting.  I tried for years unsuccessfully at a early learning childhood center that incorporated both typical children and children with special needs and Noah couldn't even handle fifteen minutes at a time with a classroom full of peers without some really bad displays of gagging and vomiting which for him is how he displays his sensory processing difficulties.   And there was nothing that ever could get him past it. 

Then there was a period of about five months where I'd get weekly emails with some kind of germ circulating warning parents; hand, foot and mouth disease, lice... that happened several times, whopping cough, chicken pox... and I was so not in the mood to expose Noah to any of that.  A simple cold or illness for a typical child can be super scary for a child with special needs.  A cold just isn't a cold for them.  And we are really honest and upfront even with asking his therapists or others coming to the house to not come if they are ill or have been around someone ill.  Noah's well being depends on it.

I've also really never had a desire to add one more battle to the many battles I already deal with in a day and never desired Noah to have an IEP.  And the reality is that Noah's daily needs and care are really high.  And that I just don't have a huge amount of faith in PARA's designed to handle the care of a child like Noah in a public school setting.  It would take someone a really long time to learn how to care for Noah and all of his individual sounds, cries, expressions, how to safely feed and give him drink, how too soothe him, how to deal with sensory issues... the list goes on and on.   Someone would literally have to shadow me for months to really learn about what he needs on a daily basis and how to care for him.  Mix that in with the occasional horror stories that you hear on the news of children facing abuses and in some cases injuries sustained either by peers or professionals, and worst case scenarios, being lost on a bus for hours on end or forgotten altogether on a bus and passing away until they were finally discovered at the end of the day.   And I just felt like that wasn't for us. 

That's not to say that other parents feel quite differently and that inclusion is a primary goal in the special needs community.  Or that some families have fantastic and amazing out of home schooling experiences. I still love the idea of inclusion and we're able to do it a bit differently and still have it work for our family.  We still can coordinate field trips with other homeschooling families and even local Charter schools willing to include us.  

We made the decision to hold Noah back a year, and bump Luke up a year so that both boys are starting Kindergarten together.  Which is super I can teach both children the same curriculum at the same time which I think will be really beneficial and helpful for Noah's learning experience.   And I'm sure there will be people out there with a world of opinions on why you should send your child with special needs off to school or why or should at the very least send you typical child off to school.   Which is okay, what works for one family like ours may not work for the next.  This happens to feel like a really great decision for our family and the boys are really loving it. 

We're doing a bit of Homeschooling Waldorf style.  Which really feels like a great match for a child with special needs like Noah.  It's a great combination of life learning skills mixed in with educational learning experiences.  It feels natural, wholesome and comfortable for us.  Of course it means that I'm adding to our daily line up of therapies, appointments and now balancing school, but it's all falling into place.  And our decision to homeschool has really eliminated the stresses that I otherwise would have compounded on myself with Noah being as medically fragile as he is. 

This all might sound like I'm in some way attempting to explain or defend our decision, but quite the contrary, it's merely all the factors that played a part in knowing that homeschooling was the best option for Noah and for his little brother.  We're having a lot of fun each day, and we get to schedule or day how we need to in order to make it all work.   All parents are natural teachers... so here's to our new adventures in learning!

"There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”Mahatma Gandhi  


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.