Would a diagnosis of Aspergers put our permission to homeschool at risk?

Jen - posted on 09/21/2012 ( 6 moms have responded )

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We're homeschooling our son, age 9, and we think that he might have either Asperger's with SPD, or just SPD. (sensory processing). I'm not worried about the academics; I've learned how to teach him and he's starting to flourish and frankly not even the social stuff too, because we send him out here and there for classes in our great homeschooling community. Plus he has a couple of close friends that he plays with regulary, at length, in unstructured play.



One reason we are considering diagnosis is that when we send him out to "regular" homeschool classes, his habit of (when bored) zoning out and telling himself a story in his head (complete with hand motions, like fluttery fingers, explosion sounds, and the whole bit), sometimes I get the knowing look "have you considered he's autistic?" Having the diagnosis would certainly help with that. I could say "why yes, he has Asperger's Syndrome (or SPD) ---can you still teach him? or at least tolerate his differences?" My son is brilliant, creative, verbal and well-liked. He just has (a) perfectionism, (b) what we call the "twiddles" (i.e. hand movements that he says go with a story he's telling in his head) and (c) low attention span unless interested, (d) emotional intensity (i.e. if he feels put on the spot in front of all the other kids, doesn't understand, he can burst out crying, in the moment of intense emotion, completely not caring of the socially inappropriateness of that amid "traditional" kids (i.e. "big boys don't cry")



Here's the point of my question (sorry it took so long to get to it). I worry that if I "go public" into the medical system (his doctor didn't notice anything in the regular checkup) with this diagnosis, that it will somehow threaten our ability to get permission to homeschool. It's so far, so good with permission.



We visit the homeschool coordinator at the end of each year, hand in our binder of work samples and stories of all his interesting experiences etc, we talk with her for a half hour, and all seems to go extremely well. I just fear that a diagnosis will mean that suddenly all sorts of experts will rush in and try to take over the schooling. I am good at teaching him, trying to balance the skills he needs to learn (solving problems independently, working with others, giving social experiences and/or instruction OUTSIDE the home as needed). I am also totally cool with, armed with a diagnosis, sending him to an OT to learn certain skills he struggles with or is afraid to try (but which he needs), and to possibly find dietary and therapy that could help with the twiddles, which draw unwanted attention & distraction. I'd just hate to lose our wonderful eclectic laid-back homeschooling life and have to put him into school where my right-brained, supremely sensitive, artistic marvel of a child would just get shredded.



We're in Massachusetts....does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Anaquita - posted on 09/22/2012

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There are a lot of parents with kids on the spectrum who home school, if they can. Many find it works better. As long as you continue to have the occasional home school class, and opportunities for social skills, you should be fine. And with an official diagnosis, he'll also be eligible for intervention therapies.

Sherri - posted on 09/21/2012

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It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job and I agree that you should continue doing what you are doing. I live in Minnesota and things may be a little different here...but I think the biggest advantage of having an official diagnosis would be eligibility and access to special services through your school district and occupational therapy support. These would be meant to augment and support what you are already doing with him.

I have two children with autism, we do not homeschool, but the school district has been pretty supportive of what we wanted for our children...especially when we were very clear on what worked for our children and our family. The great thing about homeschooling is that you are already automatically adapting the curriculum to fit his needs and aptitude but eventually your son may want to go to college...a place where his little idiosyncrasies may not be understood or tolerated without the autism label.

Regular doctors generally don't spend enough time with kids to be able to give a diagnosis. See if your doctor can give you a referral to a specialist. After a diagnosis, you may be overwhelmed with people and professionals telling you what to do...but you are the parent...you get to decide what might be hepful or not. So far it sounds like he is thriving magnificently! If you stay strong in the knowledge that you know your child better than anyone else, you will do just fine. :)

Jennifer - posted on 09/21/2012

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There should be no risk to homeschooling. My son is autistic & I'm homeschooling him this year. He is getting special ed services through the school district. As for social skills, he'll learn more from you than from peers who are also learning the same skills in a standard school setting & it looks like you have already taken steps to help him learn those skills. There are several families who choose to homeschool their ASD kids without issues across the country. If you haven't yet, find a homeschool support group for parents of ASD kids in your area.

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Jen - posted on 09/21/2012

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I am new here, and I'd like to reply to Brenda who posted on my thread. She said "Only thing is he wont learn social skills which is very hard for Aspies...." but I can't tell if there's more to her comment. Bear with me!



Are you saying he won't learn social skills by homeschooling? I did mention that he goes to classes. Not only that, there is a great place that we've been to (and will return to)...it is specifically to teach social skills to kids with challenges of all kinds. It's called Social Smart Kids, in Central Mass. - So I think we've got that part covered. :-)



I was just worried if the school district might not give us permission unless I taught him IN school, THEIR way.

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