Homeschooling is the best because your child can follow their passion uninhibated. Here in Autismland this looks different for my child with autism than his typically developing sister.
In the autism world, passions are often described as obsessions. This is partly due to the fact that children with autism will often perservate on one subject or item for long periods of time. Lots of people view this as odd thing but what if you took those passions and used them to your advantage?
Logan, my child with autism, was infatuated with dinosaurs in the early years. This is not uncommon for little boys. What was uncommon was his ability to name them all with their scientific name, what they ate, and their common names.
Utilizing his love for dinosaurs allowed us to enter his world to work on deficits like speech. Logan would talk all day about dinosaurs to anyone who would listen. We were faced with the choice to either encourage this love and use it to our advantage or discourage it and insist he learn the “normal” way. Homeschooling afforded us the luxury of incorporating his passion in order to help him learn best.
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As Logan grew older, dinosaurs were replaced by reptiles and Pokemon. Dinosaurs were still alive and well in our world, they just didn’t take center stage anymore. We used Pokemon cards to teach social skills like turn taking and losing gracefully. The concept of money was cemented by learning how much money he needed to buy rats for his snakes to eat on a monthly basis. It was just a matter of acknowledging his passions and using them to our advantage.
Why would we do that? Because children learn better when they are interested in the subject.
This has nothing to do with autism at all. The autism gave us a reason to find his passions and use them if we wanted him to learn. It gave us incentive to engage with him at his level with things that excited him. We are parlaying that love of reptiles into a career in herpetology.
Lots of zoos will hire someone who will handle reptiles. I am not one of those people. They give me the heebie jeebies. This did not deter me from encouraging him to follow his dream. Homeschooling allowed us the luxury of tailoring his education to accomplish his dreams.
It never occurred to me that this would work for children without autism until we began homeschooling his sister who become passionate about ballet at a young age. She lived and breathed ballet.
As she grew older, ballet began taking up more and more of her time. When she was accepted to the pre professional program for a top ballet school, it became her main focus. At this point ballet trumped academics.
Homeschool is allowing her to chase her dream by making her available for ballet training for hours on a daily basis. Lessons happen in short bursts around ballet class. A teenager in public school would never be able to flex their studies around ballet instruction. It would be expected to be the other way around. Homeschooling allows her, just like it did Logan, to follow her passion although it looks different for her.
People homeschool for a variety of reasons. One of the many things I love about homeschooling is that every child has a different passion. This makes every homeschooled child unique in their pursuits.
No matter why you homeschool, allow your child to blossom into this uniqueness by discovering and following their passions.
Based on my own personal & sometimes difficult experiences with autism, I educate families of children with autism on how to navigate their world from diagnosis to adulthood. I offer real life advice and ideas through my blog by providing printable therapy techniques, ebooks and DIY posts. You can also find me on Facebook!