Discover what to expect your first year homeschooling a child with special needs! via jennyherman.com

7 Things To Expect In Your First Year Homeschooling A Child With Special Needs

I am super excited to introduce you to Gabriella Volpe today! If you are a special needs homeschooler, you need to check out her site. Today she’s going to share with you what to expect in your first year of homeschooling a child with special needs.

If you’re embarking on this homeschooling voyage with a child with special needs for the first time this year, here are tips based on what I learned in my first year as a homeschooler. (more…)

Read on to see how to deal with people who think you shouldn't homeschool your child with special needs. via jennyherman.com

FAQ: How Do You Deal With Those Who Think You Shouldn’t Homeschool Your Child With Special Needs?

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Though homeschooling has become more mainstream over the past few years, there are still those who will ask you why you homeschool your child with special needs. Some will ask, listen, and thank you for your reply. Others will come back with some sort of criticism. One reader asks,

“How do you deal with less than understanding responses and attitudes (complaints) from people you and your child will be around regularly? At what point do you just NOT explain or ask for accommodation, and just try to be diplomatic?”

Good question!

(more…)

Click over to discover why one autism mom homeschools her child! via jennyherman.com

7 Reasons I Homeschool My Child with Special Needs Instead of Sending Him to School

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When my son was three-and-a-half, I took him for an evaluation through the local school district. The social worker said to me, “I understand why you’re concerned, but I can’t check off enough boxes for autism. His coping skills are good enough for now. My recommendation is to put him in a regular preschool room. Either they’ll never know he’s in the building, or his world will fall apart.”

His world fell apart.

It was probably the worst six weeks of our lives. Too much noise and too many kids overwhelmed my son’s system, turning him into someone else. I made the tough decision to put him into the developmental delay prechool room in the district.

It worked. A smaller class with a higher adult-to-child ratio provided my son with a better setting. BUT

But as is common with many kids on the autism spectrum, the teacher got the great kid and I dealt with the fallout. The second year was rough. Getting him onto the bus–a one-hour ride for a few miles–and dealing with him after school challenged me. I basically had to leave him alone for an hour after school to let him decompress. He eventually started bring home regressive behaviors.

I never intended to homeschool my children, despite my experience as an elementary classroom teacher. That year, when the regressive behaviors became too much, we pulled my son.

This is why I homeschool my son with special needs… (more…)

How do you decide when to intervene in playground squabbles? via jennyherman.com

Special Needs Parenting vs. Helicopter Parenting: When Do You Get Involved?

It’s time for a little advocating for those in the trenches of special needs parenting. But first, a story.

Once upon a time there was a child. This fifth grader enjoyed playing at the pool with other children. One day a first grader decided to follow him around the pool. Nothing wrong with that, just a younger child wanting to play with an older child.

But the older child asked him to stop. And the older child swam away. The younger child followed, and so the fifth grader kept swimming away and saying, “Please stop.” Eventually after asking multiple times, he started yelling and splashing the other child. (more…)

What can you do when special needs siblings have opposite sensory needs? Click to get ideas at jennyherman.com.

Special Needs Siblings: When Opposite Sensory Needs React

A little while ago, Shawna of Not the Former Things wrote a post for my readers about special needs siblings. Many parents stopped by. I think they felt that she understood what they were going through. I sure did. Which brings me to another episode of As the Special Needs Siblings Turn.

I know I’m supposed to stretch my child and push him to deal with sensory issues. But here’s the rub. When another child is involved, how far do you push? How often? At what expense?

This came up again the other day when I tried to teach spelling together. My youngest is a good speller and has reached the point he can be at the same point in All About Spelling as his brother. I thought this would save me some time.

Nope.

The first day we tried it was a lesson day, where you walk through a new spelling rule, practice on the board, etc. Their sensory needs and personalities clashed and I needed a chocolate IV.

So, I thought surely I could do the spelling practice days together. All it requires is telling them a word, phrase, or sentence, they repeat, and then write it. Once again the sensory needs clashed. Youngest is a mover, a shaker, a music maker. He’s tapping his pencil while he writes. “Please stop it.” Tap. “PLEASE stop it.” Tap, tap. “I SAID PLEASE STOP IT!” To put it nicely, it went downhill from there.

Of course, trying to talk it out didn’t work. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say sometimes I feel like my life could be titled Clash of the Titans.

I know I’m not the only special needs parent dealing with this. How do you deal with the differing needs of special needs siblings? HOW?

Sigh. The next day in The Loving Push, Drs. Grandin and Moore tell me, “You need to know your child’s rhythms so that you can plan ahead. The worst time to try to push your child out of their comfort zone is when they are already annoyed or distressed. Find a time they are rested, not hungry, and not overwhelmed by sensory input.” (p. 71) Yeah, so trying on a full moon Monday is probably not my best bet. (You can learn more about  The Loving Push here. That’s an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase anything, I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.).

Sometimes special needs siblings have opposing sensory needsI still don’t have all the answers. Life with special needs siblings is a roller coaster and there’s nothing I can do about that. It always will be. But, I do have some ideas. I chatted with my husband and some other special needs parents. Here’s what they had to say.

Me: I still have to stretch him. Currently the rule is you can’t shush if you’re not willing to put your headphones on. And for little brother, you don’t always have to stop, but you do need to turn it down. Additionally, I’ve decided to move the location of our spelling lessons. I used to do my All About Spelling lessons in the bedroom because I could shut the door to minimize distractions. Now I’ll do it at the dining room table to make it a little more formal and hopefully cut down on the need to use silly voices and maybe reduce some tapping.

Hubby: “The other day I had him leave the room to calm down, and it worked. He was much calmer after. Maybe that would help?”

Jennifer: “I try to balance the needs of each child. I work really hard to find a way to help my child with sensory needs meet her needs in ways that don’t drive her sister nuts. We spend a lot of time talking about having compassion for others and realizing that your needs are not the only ones that matter. This requires so much prayer on my part. I want both of my children to understand and work to meet their needs while not trampling the needs of others in the process – and to sometimes sacrifice their needs for someone else.”

You can read Jennifer’s post about the challenges special needs siblings face here.

Sandra:  “Because James’s special-needs are so severe, we can’t push him into much. We do push David, our 10 year old typical son. And my parents pushed me in my relationship with my older sister who has Down syndrome. Like last week, we were at the splash pad and James was in full melt-down mode—crying, screaming, hitting, and trying to take his clothes off. I can’t push him. So David has to be understanding that we have to go and we will try another time. If it’s an activity that’s important to David (like seeing a movie), then just my husband Lee or I take him.”

Sandra has written an article, “7 Phrases Every Special Needs Sibling Needs to Hear.

 

Now it’s your turn. I want to know how you handle the balancing act of special needs siblings with different needs. Have something that has worked for you? Tell me in the comments!

I’ve got a super-duper ebook of 75 survival tips for special needs parents! Get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below.

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I do adore All About Learning Press. I work for them now, but have always loved their multisensory, easy-to-teach curriculum. If you’re looking for some spelling help for your child, why not click on over and grab some FREE colorful spelling rules posters you can print. (That is an affiliate link. I make a small commission at no cost to you should you decide to purchase something. Thank you for your support!)

Get FREE spelling rules posters!

Click to discover one of the invisible aspects of Aspergers syndrome! via jennyherman.com

The Invisible Side of Aspergers Syndrome

I remember reading last year that perhaps the most difficult part of Aspergers syndrome is that which is invisible. In her book How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism and Aspergers, Jennifer McIlwee Myers describes Aspergers as “invisible but crippling”. That resonated with me. Whether you call it autism, high-functioning autism, or Aspergers syndrome, one of the hardest things my son deals with is the inability to communicate. Even when my son tried to tell me communication is hard, he couldn’t quite explain it.

Answering why questions is extremely hard for him. I usually have to turn it into a “what about this…” question. Sometimes it seems like it physically hurts my son with autism when I’m trying to get him to explain something. He scrunches up his face, put his hands on his head, asks if he can just not answer.

How can a parent help with that? I can’t get inside his head and do the talking for him. I do my best to help him walk through it, to offer possibilities. Then I wonder if the answers he comes up with are really his, or if I’m projecting what I think is his answer, but not really.

My ten-year old has made tremendous progress. He is now able to deal with unexpected situations much more easily. The other night he dumped some of his food and didn’t have a meltdown. He can handle touch better now. Nowadays if I tell him he needs to do something else, he’s usually ok with that.

People will tell me, “He doesn’t look autistic.” I think they are referring to his coping skills and how far he’s come. I think they mean it in a good way.

However, he is autistic. And perhaps his greatest challenges are the ones you can’t see, including communication.

So, if you ask him a question and he doesn’t say anything, he just stares at you, please don’t think he’s rude. He just doesn’t know what to say, and sometimes he freezes up. In fact, I’m willing to bet there are a lot of people on the autism spectrum who would like your patience in this area. They simply don’t know what to say or how to respond.

If you need help teaching your child life skills, I recommend Jennifer’s book. One of the best aspects of the book is that Jennifer herself has Aspergers syndrom. You can learn more about it here. (Affiliate link. Should you purchase anything, I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.)

Does your child deal with invisible challenges? Tell me in the comments!

I’m putting together a super-duper ebook of survival tips for special needs parents! My newsletters subscribers will be the first to get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below to sign up and you’ll be in the know.

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Special Needs & Siblings: The Good, The Bad, & The Hopeful

I am really excited to bring you a guest post from Shawna today. I’ve been struggling with the special needs sibling aspect of parenting, and I invited her to share on that topic. Shawna’s a great writer and a great mom, and I hope you are blessed by her post and comforted that you are not alone.

We spend a lot of time on my oldest son, around here.

We spend a lot of time talking – trying to help him calm down, help him socially navigate tough situations, discussing his topic of interest.

We spend a lot of time worrying – if he can handle tomorrow’s play date with the weather so hot, if he will sleep tonight or be up for hours, if he will make it through dinner and eat something healthy.

We spend hours cleaning up – after horrible meltdowns, a lack of executive function in the kitchen making pretzels/sourdough bread starters/pickles/homemade cheese, food eaten in his room under the lycra sheets with the door shut because he just can’t eat with us at the table tonight.

We do this because he has autism, anxiety disorder and autoimmune diseases. (more…)

Discover what video games have taught a mom about living with autism! via jennyherman.com

What Minecraft & Angry Birds Go! Taught Me About Living With Autism

Those of us who do not have autism cannot understand what living with autism is like. After all, we can’t get inside another person’s head or body. But recently I’ve discovered I can get a feeling for what it’s like. Thanks to Minecraft and Angry Birds Go! I’ve had a little peek into the autism world.

  • My son with autism is a Minecraft expert. He can talk to you for hours about Minecraft, and he understands it. For me, it’s like he is talking a different language. Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I feel myself hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher, even though I want to understand. I imagine that is what it is like for some of our friends living with autism. They want to understand social cues, they want to be able to communicate with others. It’s just not working for them.
  • When I play Angry Birds Go! with my boys, I feel very out of control. The go carts race down the virtual track and I stink at steering. I end up crashing. I go upside down. I’ve even gone backwards down the track. It’s a very disconcerting feeling. Think about those living with autism. There are lots of things they can’t control every day. Consider living with that stress all the time!
  • I’m pretty bad at navigating inside Minecraft and I already told you how horrible I am at steering in Angry Birds Go! Working inside these games gives me another perspective of my autistic son’s sensory issues. I have to turn the music down so I can concentrate. I experience motion sickness watching him move quickly through Minecraft or doing the loop on the Angry Birds Go! stunt track. What if your sensory issues didn’t go away? What if you were always unsure of your balance, or voices made your ears hurt? What if eating simple foods made you want to gag? What if you couldn’t stand being touched and the slightest bump set you on edge? For many folks living with autism, that’s how it is every day, every hour.
  • When my son gets to talk about Minecraft with someone else, you can see the excitement. Someone is interested in him. They’re speaking his language, so to speak, by allowing him to talk about one of his favorite things. Minecraft gives him a bridge, a way to make friends and have something to discuss, something to do together. It always helps to have a common interest, doesn’t it?

I have to say, I never expected to learn about autism from video games. These experiences have given me some valuable insights into my son’s life with autism. Where have you found unexpected lessons?

To see 27 other things I’ve learned from being an autism parent, click here.

I’m putting together a super-duper ebook of survival tips for special needs parents! My newsletters subscribers will be the first to get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below to sign up and you’ll be in the know.

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Click to see what one special needs mom says about various quotes! via jennyherman.com

“Say Goodbye to Survival Mode”, “God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle” and Other Things Special Needs Parents Want to Laugh At

Friday was one of those days. I woke up discouraged about a project. I started thinking about other things and anxiety crept in. I had to get ready for a weekend family trip. I made a packing list with the boys so they could learn how to pack for themselves. Of course then we get into other things.

Anxiety kept building as I found new steps to add to my list. Before I could pack I had to vacuum out my bag (long story). Before I could do laundry I had to shower so I could wash the clothes I was wearing. Before I could…

While vacuuming, I hit the ceiling fan with the nozzle as I moved the vacuum to get spider webs, and dust balls rained down on me. I went to change laundry and something had shredded all over the clothes in the washer.

I kept mulling over the things on my mind and my anxiety level increased. Intermittently a child needed to ask me this or that seemingly unimportant question. I had to wash some of my husband’s dress shirts in the bathroom sink because the washing machine has been making them look worse than when they go in…

And I still hadn’t… (more…)

Click to see the surprising benefs this lady has found from being an #autism mom! via jennyherman.com

Surprise Benefits of Being an Autism Mom

Seven years ago I became an autism mom. I drowned in information and was overwhelmed by my child’s needs and delays. I’m pretty sure I never imagined the progress my son with autism would make. He’s come so far!

Though there are still many challenging days, I have found some benefits from being an autism mom that I did not expect. If you’re in the special needs trenches like I am, and you’re having a rough patch, I hope this list of benefits will help you find some silver linings.

  • I’ve become stronger and resilient.
  • Because of my own autism journey, I can help others understand.
  • I am able to use what I’ve learned to help other kids.
  • God has taught me ways to help my son, enabling me to lead a special needs class at church so other parents can go to church.
  • I’ve learned to be more understanding of what is going on when I see situations in public.
  • Due to what I’ve been through, I am able to offer support to other autism and special needs parents.
  • I can help neighbors and their families and friends.
  • Through my blog, I can share what has helped me, thereby helping others.
  • My experience gives me the ability to help other kids at events.
  • I’ve learned to advocate for my autistic son and others.

Though this post is short, I hope it has big impact. Special needs parent, your trials and challenges give you the power to help others. You may not have realized it, but they do.

I’m curious. Has this brought something to your mind? Have you realized a benefit from your role as autism parent? I’d love to hear in the comments!

If you’d like some free resources to help you on your special needs journey, sign up for my free newsletter and get immediate access to my library! You’ll find a social skills checklist, help for persevering, a list of boredom busters for your child, and more! Just click the button below.

I’ve got  an e-book of 75 survival tips for special needs parents! Just click the button below to sign up and I’ll send it to you.

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