Homeschooling on the Spectrum is Colorful!!!

I'm asked all the time about homeschooling Kaden.  What's it like to keep your Kiddo with Autism home all day long?  Well, first of all it does take patience.  Not the kind of patience that you need while your on an 8 hour flight in front of a defiant youngster that has the lungs of an Opera singer and feet like sledgehammers.  Or the same kind of patience you need while you wait for your tax return to come in while your juggling a few late bills.  You just need your normal Parent Patience, nothing God didn't equip you with.  Yes, things will get ugly from time to time.  There may be days, even weeks where you only think about getting out of your night clothes.  But, even on those days, with the right systems in place and support you can do it.  

We felt like it was the Best thing for our little guy to stay home.  I wont get into it on this post, but, Kaden has never been to public school like my other two and we plan on keeping it that way.  
So, how do I keep going even through the bad days?  Here are a few ideas that we use daily.

First of all I want to clarify that Kaden is High Functioning.  So, not everything I suggest will work for every Kiddo.  There are a ton of things I've tried through the years and these seem to make our days smoother.  

OUTSIDE- I did not structure outside time daily for my typical kids like I do with Kaden.  We do things like gardening, chalk, art and reading time outside, breakfast/lunch, trampoline, bike riding.....you name it, you can do it outside.  I have found for Kaden the sensory part of being outside balances him when he is over or under stimulated.  Not to mention change of scenery and fresh air!!

Their Interests-  Whatever they are interested in, run with it.  If they love horses, make everything horse related.  If they like to build with blocks, you can use it for math, tape letters on them and build words together for spelling.  You can use their interest as a reinforcer for appropriate behavior during each subject.  Kaden loves experiments, math and building.  We tend to do a lot of projects to keep his intrests.  He can take sandwich making to a whole new level with all of his project skills.  We tell him he could have his own cooking show one day.

Food-  Yes, food is important.  I make sure he has healthy snacks and a good breakfast and lunch.  Another fun twist is having him in charge.  I have him help anywhere it is safe for him to help.  By giving him more control, not only does it keep him occupied and engaged, it also teaches him life long skills that are necessary.

  Make Learning Fun-  It can be done, trust me.  Everything doesn't have to come from a book, have them experiment with all of their senses.  A lot of Special Needs Kiddos have Heightened sensory needs.  Kaden learns best when he can touch, smell and see what he's learning in action.  We try to live out our Science and some History.  Even Math can be baking and cooking.  Measuring and budgeting.  Spelling can be grocery lists, card lists or letter writing to their favorite fictional character.....Kaden's would be to SpongeBob or Ferb.  We also take time outs to do a little free play with educational toys.  For me I have chosen puzzles, legos, any kind of art, piano, reading, outside play or anything that keeps the mind going, but not having to learn new information.  This way they get a little relaxation while working out their brain muscle.  Kaden, if you can't tell has to be constantly doing something at all times.  Even if he is watching a show he will have his tablet on and a book in hand.  So, I have to work at keeping him stimulated in order to prevent meltdowns.

Encourage Self Learning-  We have always encouraged self learning with our Typical Kiddos, so doing the same to Kaden just came naturally.  Do we expect perfection?  Absolutely not, not even for our Typical Kiddos.  We just want to foster their Love for knowledge and their desire to learn the unknown.  Even if it has nothing to do with the subject at hand.  Here is a picture of Kaden looking up the word Fart.  Yes, you read correctly.  And if you try to say you never did something like that when you were a Kiddo I wouldn't believe you. :)  He wondered out loud if that word was in the dictionary.  I wish you could have seen the smile that was on his little face when I popped my head up and said that I didn't know, let's look it up with a few other words.  I keep a running list of words in my planner for him to randomly look up.  This is great for dinner making time when he wants to go do something that is just impossible at the time. 

Plan B-  Always have a Plan B!!!  Life isn't going to go as planned most days.  And that's ok, what's important is that your Kiddo knows you LOVE them.  Learning comes naturally to Kiddos when they are nurtured.  We were supposed to be doing Math one day.  I couldn't get him to focus and I could see a meltdown in our near future.  I decided to grab some leftover Christmas gumdrops and toothpicks.  Almost an hour later he had created his masterpiece.  Afterwards I took a handful of gumdrops and toothpicks and challenged him to come up with as many correct geometric shapes as possible.  He made 11 different shapes including a 3D figure of what he wanted for his Birthday.  I call that success!!

I want to leave you with all things are possible!  Homeschooling your Kiddo with Special Needs is an opportunity for you to have a front row seat and see how they interpret the world around them.  
*Plan what you want to do for the week, not the day.  
*Have lot's of fun outside and inside by scheduling in things that they love and are interested in.  *Make food apart of their learning and give them healthy options and choices.  
*Kick up the Sensory dial a few notches to keep them on their toes and encourage them to learn for themselves.  
*Give them lot's of tools to learn about their world around them.  *And finally remember what is truly important here....Your Kiddo!  His self-esteem and confidence are being built everyday.  Give them courage to set forth and take the world on one day at a time.  Happy-Schooling!!!!


  1. You are such an awesome mom and teacher! God knew exactly who would love and teach Kaden the best. You inspire me, Sheila!

  2. Oh, but i did enjoy reading this post. Good job momma teacher. :)