Friday, January 27, 2012

Homeschooling Asperger's

In my researching homeschooling a child with Asperger's, I've come to realize that this is something commonly done with Aspie kids. You see, in public, or even private school, AS kids have to deal with so much more than just learning. Their brains don't function like the typical person, so instead of just concentrating on the lesson, they're trying NOT to concentrate on a bunch of other things.

Like that kid absentmindedly twitching his foot.

Or that kid chewing on their pencil.

Or the girl who keeps twirling her hair. And the teacher who is trying to make eye contact. And my itchy tag on my shirt.

And my pencil lead breaking. And the sound of pages turning. And the sound of the intercom going off. And thinking "when is the bell going to ring and scare me". And fighting hunger pangs. And missing mom. And dad. And brother. And thinking about Pokemon. And worrying about the rain outside. And...and...and...

You see, people on the spectrum hear, feel,, they over hear, over feel, and over see everything. What other people can shut out, they can not. These heightened senses mean sensory overload, which is definitely not conducive to learning. 

So, they get labeled as "behind" when they are actually very bright. Sometimes this means they just keep struggling and struggling in their classroom and other times it means they get moved to Special Ed. Special Ed isn't any less sensory overloading to them, it's just in a different way. And, instead of using their big brains to learn tons and tons, they aren't usually being challenged enough. 

Enter homeschooling.

The chance to remove all the distractions and focus on learning in a way that promotes productivity in them. The chance to be taught one-on-one with someone they are comfortable with and who knows them inside and out. The chance to cast a very wide net of knowledge so they can explore and learn and absorb more than typical schools could ever offer. All in an extremely comfortable environment.

Now, I realize the socialization aspect may seem as though it's lost when AS kids especially are homeschooled, but it's quite the contrary. The truth is that at Bub's school he was most certainly around people all the time, but he doesn't initiate contact with people on his own, like, ever. So, he was mostly parallel playing or doing quiet activities alone and no one was pushing him to make more contact. At home, we work on things like eye contact, phone etiquette, productive play, pretending (most AS kids lack imagination), conversational flow and more. We go on field trips and take advantage of seeing other people and use them as learning experiences for social conduct. It's quality above quantity

And you know what's happening? He's improving! He's making eye contact without prompting! He's not shutting down in public! He's sleeping and eating better! He's playing with toys and engaging people like he never has before. It's truly a miracle and I'm elated to see it and know that I taught him that!! 

And that's the most gratifying feeling ever. 

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