Special Needs

Psssst……At present, the fastest growing homeschool population is special needs….because it works!  To expand upon those areas that you know they will need and can attain with no wasted time practicing things that your child has already mastered or never will is a freedom to succeed that allows a parent to breathe deeply.

TESTING and PLANS are a great place to begin.  Susan Blackwell of Homeschooling The Special Needs Child is an HSLDA approved Special Needs Consultant who will make you breathe easier with her warmth, experience, and supportive yet professional approach.  Susan is available for curriculum counseling, special needs testing.  She also can make referrals for psychological evaluations, help implement accommodations in the daily school routine, construct IEP’s (known as Service Plans for homeschoolers), as well as provide practical assistance to parents for their students.

PARENTING CLASSES are beginning to pop up around SC and the US, but two that we have appreciated are The Rankin Institute of Fletcher School http://www.thefletcherschool.org/m/rankin-institute/ and South East Psych http://www.southeastpsych.com/

READING SPECIALISTS  abound in SC, but two of Faithful Scholar’s top picks for special needs students are Academic AssociatesSusan Barton Method.

ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLERS

  • Set goals for your child based upon the areas they will need to succeed in adulthood
  • Focus on self-organizing, self-starting, self-pacing equal or greater than academic needs
  • Electives should focus on future life skills needs, character development, and mastery
  • Subjects do not need to be at grade/age level
  • Teach at their level and move forward as they gain master- or remain in constant review
  • There is no law that says you must complete a text or level before advancing a grade
  • Focus on 180 days of learning and progress AT THE RATE OF YOUR CHILD’S ABILITY

Being a gifted dyslexic as well as a mom of a special needs student (delayed development & Autism), my own dyslexic son, and another son with a processing disorder, I have always counted it a blessing to serve families with special needs students from our unique point of view and vast personal basis of experience.  It was at the age of 8 that I realized my spiritual gift of relating to children, elderly, and (especially) special needs.  It was at the age of 16 that I deeply knew that I would be gifted with my very own special needs child.  It was at the age of 31 that our promised gift was revealed in Maggie-My-Girl.  God is amazing!  It has been a different kind of journey (and continues to be), but we would not trade her for a world of perfection.

 

Rather than your child being in a class with 6 to 30 other students aiming toward the same general goals, you are able to custom build a customized curriculum based upon the strengths and weaknesses of your Sweet Gift.  Gone are the moments of practicing things that your child has already mastered or never will.  Gone are the short sessions that end all too soon in order to leave ample professional paperwork time. Welcome the time to weave lessons, reminders, and practice throughout your day, all day, every day.  It may take some self-educating with private therapists, but the payoff with your special needs child will amaze you.

We graduated our special needs daughter in 2016 and counted each day with her a gift.  Now I am able to watch her take out books on things that catch her attention (solar eclipse, travel, gardening) or have always had her attention (health, nutrition, cooking).  I imagine had we sent her to school she would have arrived home exhausted at the end of each day looking for an escape, and, I imagine, we would have given in to the need for a peace-filled solution for the family, thus allowing our preferred home culture to shift away from what we truly felt was best for Maggie’s future and our family.

We would have traded our culture of education for a culture that did not reflect the joy of curiosity, imagination, learning.  Our daughter would have graduated, shut her last book, and then come home to live with us expecting that life would be the afternoon culture that had everything to do with keeping the peace and very little to do with continued education, helping others, maturing, striving, living.

That is just what I would imagine given OUR daughter’s personality and OUR threshold.  Each situation is different, and yours may be that school is much needed.  Please do not read judgment that homeschool is the only way.  It is not, but it certainly made a world of difference to our family and children with special needs.

SPECIAL NEEDS HIGH SCHOOLERS

Special needs students require the same credits as above but have until age 21 to complete the coursework with a lower level-of-achievement expectation.

  • Set goals for your child based upon the areas they will need to succeed in life,
  • Focus on self-organizing, self-starting, and self-pacing
  • Electives should focus on future life skills needs, character development, and mastery
  • Math will seldom be a high school math, but it is a math
  • Other books may or may not be high school level
  • Special needs students often work 365 days and become life learners
  • Transcript options of
    • grading based upon Passing rather than numerical    Sample
    • vocational/occupational     Sample coming
    • applied studies                     Sample coming
  • 4 or 5 years of high school to graduate with a High School Diploma with Exceptions

We just finished this journey with our daughter and while she will most likely never attend traditional college nor did she take a formal SAT/ACT tests, she is a proud graduate knowing that her hard achieved this incredible goal.  The beauty is that she can still be found with her nose in a book because she knows that there is more to learn.  Our God is far larger than our greatest visions/plans.  Never put a cap on what our child can do.  On this day your child will move forward in all areas of growth, and on this day we will walk with her in thankfulness for her being.

Special Needs is one of the fastest growing homeschool populations at this time.  What we are seeing, and what we have experienced, is that parents know their child’s areas of strengths and weaknesses, and that, if given the time to expand upon that knowledge, are better able to prepare and equip their child for the child’s most successful future.  We are able to tailor make an educational journey that is focused on strengthening needed areas for their greatest success while skimming over areas that they either have in hand or will most likely never utilize.  Bringing our special needs students home is showing greater success than the traditional (special needs) education which focuses on many students of various needs/levels/abilities.

Special services are still available through the public school system to those needing Speech, OT, PT, etc., and often these are of higher importance, so there is a limit to the above statement.  Again, parents are fully aware of these parameters.