Education in public schools can be difficult for any child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder due to the speed in which they learn, the obvious differences between themselves and their peers, and also lack of knowledge in some teachers on the difficulties of autism.
In response to this, you may choose to educate your child via the means of homeschooling to help them reach their full potential, and allow them to have a dedicated teacher for their every need.
However, this may not be an easy task, so we’ve put together some wonderful tips to help you boss homeschooling your autistic child.
Stick to a schedule
Children and adults with ASD perform much better when they have some sort of schedule to their day.
A timetable helps eliminate anxieties about what’s coming next and allows their brain to process the day in front of them.
Create an easy to follow schedule for your child to look at each morning, and give them time to understand what’s expected of them.
Clearly label what you’ll be doing within each subject you’re learning that day and talk through this with your child to help them understand and mentally prepare for the day ahead.
Read at every given chance
Reading is extremely important for every child’s development, and your child may be struggling to keep up with milestone expectations for their age range – but don’t worry!
Every child learns at a different pace, and you can help them by reading guides on how to teach a child to read.
This will help you learn how to encourage your child when they are struggling with their expected level of reading.
Sometimes forming words by writing them or saying them out loud can help with your child’s ability to read.
Try different methods of learning to find the right one for you and your child!
Take regular breaks
While your child will benefit from a scheduled day, it’s important to take regular breaks to allow not just your child, but also allow yourself to have a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
One thing that can be very overwhelming for a child with ASD is working for long periods of time without the chance to take in what they’ve just learned.
The best way to do this is by taking a short break between each lesson.
Allow your child to wonder off for 10-15 minutes, grab yourself a coffee and prepare yourself for the next lesson.
Rushing to get through the day’s lesson plan can leave both you and your child burnt out and unwilling to focus properly.
Use their fixations to your advantage
It’s extremely common for children with ASD to have fixations on certain things for long periods of time.
Whatever your child is showing most interest in at the moment, put into your lessons!
For example, if your child is very keen on using the computer and learning more about how they work (and why they work), then create your curriculum using the computer as much as possible!
This way, you are tying the new knowledge they need to know to something they already love and are interested in.
Not only will this help them to remember the information as they learn, it will make the learning process interesting for them and help to hold their attention.
Keep on moving
Children with ASD struggle to sit still for long periods of time, and this can become difficult when trying to teach your children the knowledge they need to know.
While you can help this by taking regular breaks, as discussed earlier, you could also use lesson time as a chance to move around and learn in a slightly unconventional way to normal.
Give your child the chance to read aloud from textbooks and act out what they’re reading rather than sitting down to read it.
It’s a commonly known fact that you’re more likely to remember the things you enjoy – so make learning as enjoyable as possible for them!
Allow them to play as you learn! By doing this, they are more likely to remember the lessons you’re teaching them when it comes to exam time.
There will be times when your child will need to sit still, exams being one of them, and you may be worried about how they will cope or how you can help prepare them for those moments in life.
You’ll know only too well that children with ASD often fidget and need to keep moving, but there are ways to help keep them planted in their seat when it’s needed:
- Give them something to occupy their hands. There are many toys and gadgets they can play with while still directing their attention towards you.
- Consider a weighted blanket to put over their legs while learning. This can help with the need to fidget and promote concentration.
- Let your child choose a special chair or booster seat, and explain to them that when they’re in that seat, it’s important to sit still and listen. Many public schools use this method for children that struggle to sit still during carpet time.
Plan day trips to help with socialisation
One of the biggest worries for any parent considering homeschooling their child is socialisation, and with a child that has ASD, it can be an even bigger worry as they can struggle to create friendships due to their unique view on things.
However, homeschooling your child doesn’t mean they will miss out on those all-important friendships!
You can plan regular day trips to not only encourage socialisation, but also enhance their learning experience too.
You may also consider basing your day trips around their fixations to further their learning experience.
Adjust your routine to fit your child
One of the best things about homeschooling, is that you don’t have to stick to the normal 9-3 school hours!
If your child concentrates better earlier or later in the day, schedule your school hours around that time to maximise their learning process.
It may mean getting up earlier or later in the day, but your child will benefit greatly from the adjustment.
Don’t rush their learning process
Every child learns at a different pace, and children with ASD may need more time and encouragement before reaching that eureka moment.
Be patient with your child and celebrate every small victory of learning.
Most importantly, try not to rush your child as this can disencourage them from all of the hard work they’ve already put in.
Ask for help if you need it!
Parenting a child with autism is a challenge in itself, and if you’re their teacher too, you may feel overwhelmed and in over your head at points – and that’s completely normal!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
There are many resources online that can help support you and your child!
Outsource wherever you need the extra help
Finally, nobody is perfect, and there may be subjects that you’re either not keen on, or don’t know enough about to effectively teach your child.
Outsourcing a home tutor can help eliminate this problem, and also give you a chance to regain your thoughts and get on with other things around your home.
It’s also a great opportunity for your child to meet somebody new.
Homeschooling a child with ASD is challenging, but completely doable! With these tips, lots of patience, and plenty of guidance, you can effectively homeschool your child and help them thrive into a young adult!
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