When Someone Asked Me if it’s Hard to Homeschool My Child With Special Needs

Someone asked me today “is it hard to homeschool your child with special needs?”

The short answer…no.

Our lives are so much easier, less stressful, and more fulfilled because we homeschool. It is absolutely THE best decision we have made. If a program isn’t working for him we have the ability to change it…easily. He is now learning because we figured out what works best for him, which happens to not work best for many others.

Plus, it’s actually way easier than sending him to school. I don’t have to constantly call for changes to his IEP. I’m not getting phone calls everyday that my 4 year old was sent out in the hall…again…for not sitting during circle time. I don’t have to email, or call PT’s, OT’s, and SLP’s constantly to make sure his needs are being addressed. I don’t have to make sure his teachers are using the accommodations in his IEP to help him succeed.

I don’t have to worry about the number of days he has already missed or how I’m going to have to call his teachers and therapists again to tell them he is too sick to come. It is October. He would have already missed 18 days of school this year. He’s only been too sick to do his (home) school work once. So, now I don’t have to worry about if he is actually learning enough after missing so much. I don’t have to stress over getting his medicine in him in time.

I don’t have to worry about whether or not he will come out of his current regression or if I will have a child who can’t speak or walk when he gets home from school. I don’t have to worry about if he can communicate his needs and wants and what he knows to his teachers and peers. I see him everyday talk to his friends and I can accommodate when he can’t process what his friends are saying, without having to call a meeting to add that accommodation into his IEP.

Now for the long answer…YES.

YES, it is hard to homeschool my child with special needs. It’s hard to see his 3 year old brother surpass him in many areas. It’s hard to research every single thing and try new ways to to engage him and challenge him, to constantly think outside the box, to accept and trust that I AM doing enough. It is hard to honor sensory breaks every time he needs them, even if it means we JUST started our lesson.

It is hard to spend so much money on all the things he needs to help him get through the day and to help him learn. It is hard to figure out his learning style, which is so much different than mine, and to find the curriculum that fits it. It’s a lot of work.

It is hard to consult with therapists to make sure we are on the right track, then not get disappointed when they suggest we try ANOTHER new thing that will cost even more money. Because you know, without that stylus pen, or that writing app, or a z-vibe he may not make it in life. It’s really hard to make the decision to not follow their recommendations because you don’t have the money for it and then try to figure out what you can do instead that will most closely resemble their recommendation. Then, go to therapy that next week and admit to them that you can’t do what they recommend because of x, y, and z. OR if we do do the recommendation (which we do often) having to change our entire routine to include a brand new program and deal with the effects of that until my child gets used to it.

It is very hard to defend our decision to every single person we meet. Especially since our decision was an incredibly difficult and painful one to make. To have people pass judgments on you so quickly when they have no clue. It is hard to have to tell my son who wants to go to school more than anything, that he can’t because his body is not equipped to get through the day yet.

But I will tell you this. It is so incredibly worth it.

There is nothing better than being able to homeschool. It’s so worth it to see him have friends who truly value him, who see him for the wonderful person he is. To see him included and cared for every day by them. It is worth it to see him learn how to read and write. To hear him solve his first math problem all on his own because it finally CLICKED. It is worth it to see him THRIVING in every single sense of the word. Watching him sit quietly with an intense curiosity and focus during story times, field trips, and lectures at museums knowing that he was sent out in the hall everyday at school for not being able to do that before. For being able to prove all of the teachers wrong who said he would never learn how to sit still in a group if he didn’t go to school. To know for a fact, that he is not only able to learn, but that he is now on track with his peers, because I homeschool him. It is an amazing feeling to be able to say he is doing better than anyone thought he could. And as for homeschooling his neurotypical brother too, well I’ll save that for another post (it’s awesome, and fun, and challenging too).

So, while yes it is hard, it is way easier than having him in school. Getting a little off topic here, but I need to also say this..homeschooling my son with special needs has definitely taught me a lot about what it means to be a “teacher”. I know there are so many teachers out there who spend so many hours trying to figure out how to reach a student. I truly appreciate all of you who fight for students like mine. Really fight for them and think outside the box for them. You have to do it for 20-30 kids. I only have to do it for one and it’s really hard to do. I truly commend you for your service to our children. You all deserve to be paid more.

October 2017 The Homeschooling SLP www.homeeducatingapraxia.com