Homeschooling Special Needs Children – It IS possible! Our Story

If you have a special needs child (or children) and are considering homeschooling I hope you will read through this post (I apologize mine is a little long) as well as the other great posts in this Blog Hop, which you will see at the bottom of the post and that you will feel encouraged and empowered! Homeschooling special needs children IS possible!

Homeschooling Special Needs

When I knew we were expecting our first I knew I wanted to homeschool. I actually knew that if I was blessed to be a mom I wanted to homeschool.

I am very blessed that I married a Godly man who is very supportive of homeschooling. There was hardly a discussion – more of a known agreement. God had really placed it on both of our hearts. We’re going to be parents! God is blessing us with this child (eventually, children), and it is our responsibility to raise them, which includes educating them.

It wasn’t based on anything we knew or grew up with. Neither of us were homeschooled and didn’t know very many people who were or who were homeschooling their children. We were excited to embark on the journey of parenthood and all the responsibilities it entailed nonetheless including their spiritual guidance and education.

Our oldest son was such a sweet, easy baby, and we were so excited to be parents. When he was around 15 months old we realized something wasn’t quite right. I was almost due with our daughter when we first discovered he had a definite speech delay and the first mention came up that he might have PDD-NOS, which is high functioning on the Autism Spectrum.

To be honest, we blew off the idea. He was a toddler! He was just frustrated because he had a speech delay, which is probably genetic because my husband had one. This is what we told ourselves until the behaviors escalated.

To make a long story short we went through a few more evaluations (and a few misdiagnosis) before there was a roundabout that came back to – you guessed it – PDD-NOS. Our son is on the Autism Spectrum. They say that with a diagnosis a little bit of your hopes and dreams for your child dies, but mine started fading in the evaluations, referrals, etc. Everything I thought I knew about our plans as parents, as a family, were becoming blurry.

Homeschooling? How? We had to request a disability-based move from two-story to one-story housing because I couldn’t control my child and my pain disorder and still feel like everybody (including his little sister) was safe. The feeling was overwhelming.

Light It Up Blue for Brayden

So, by the time he was 3 he was in a special education preschool class, and he did very well. Of course, I would get reports back about his typical triggers, but overall, it seemed to be really good for him with the exception of his bad attitude. I figured he was just cranky from no longer getting a nap.

I talked to his teacher who was wonderful, and one of my biggest concerns I expressed was how would I explain to him later on why his siblings were going to be homeschooled but he wouldn’t. Yes, I had made up my mind. There was no way I could homeschool him. He NEEDED that environment, right? It seems to be what so many people recommend and we’re led to believe. I took my focus COMPLETELY off of God and gave into my fears.

By the time Kindergarten rolled around God was using people he had placed in my life to speak to me and encourage me. Some were homeschooling children on the Autism spectrum, and they were telling me how much BETTER their child was doing since they were homeschooled. Some didn’t have special needs children but were just amazing, loving examples that shared their hearts with me.

I may have hardened MY heart to His Will, but they were listening and He was working through them to reach me. Would you believe I ignored them? I sent him to Kindergarten at the public school I was so convinced he needed. It was a nightmare. This decision that I thought was so right finally slapped me in the face as being clearly WRONG. I withdrew him from public school the second week, and we have been homeschooling ever since.

Homeschool

Not everybody will have that “A ha!” moment like me, and I pray they don’t have to. I pray that if you are feeling like I did – like you can’t possibly homeschool a special needs child – stop. Take a moment (maybe a long moment) and just listen to what God is trying to tell you. He may be talking to you through your friends or a nudging at your spirit, but consider the cost if you don’t listen.

I pray nobody has to have negative experiences to say “woah! this is wrong!” That is what it took for me, and that is exactly why I created this project. I wanted others to share their experiences as well. I want to encourage others before they hit that wall. Maybe you have hit that wall and you’re still uncertain. I’ll pray for you. Maybe your child still has a couple of years until they’ll be in Kindergarten but you’ve already made up your mind – I encourage you to open up again! You CAN do it!!

We are proof that you can homeschool special needs children. Yes, children. Plural. All three of our children have special needs. Our younger two children have Sensory Processing Disorder – as it turns out – so do I! Can you imagine the despair I would have felt if I hadn’t decided to trust God and homeschool our children. I would be homeschooling none of them because they all have special needs.

We’re definitely not the most likely family to homeschool. We DO have hard days. I have pain flare-ups still, the kids have hard moments and meltdowns, and my husband helps when he cans, but he has had cancer twice, so he has his bad days as well.

But do you know what? We’re doing it! The kids are happy and healthy and plugging along! Our oldest son’s behaviors have improved considerably since we started homeschooling. You see, what “they” said we needed was the exact opposite. He needs his parents who love him, understand him, and care about his spiritual life. He needs to be taught how to live out in the world, not in a class room with same-age peers. They all do.

There are things about our special needs children that we cannot change, but what we can do is pray for them, love them for who God made them to be, and learn from them. Yes, I’ve learned a lot from my children, and our whole family has been blessed by homeschooling. I pray we will be a blessing to yours as well.

Homeschool

In addition to the Blog Hop, some homeschooling moms with special needs children wanted to share some words of encouragement:

“Nobody cares about your child like you do. Being there daily to help them deal with all the challenges can make all the difference.” – Karen @ Harbor Lights

“When I took my son (high-functioning Autism Spectrum) out of school it was because he was small for his age, needs were not being met at school, and {he} would have been entering a middle school that would have been disastrous for him. It has been hard at times, but we’ve never regretted our decision. He has come a long long way with learning life skills and educationally too. We still have difficult days, but we just keep looking forward…..” – Susan G.

“Trust that God has a purpose for putting this desire in your heart and move forward with faith and prayer. You know your child best and no one else is more invested in his/her best interests and education than you are!” – Sara @ Embracing Destiny

“It’s very possible to homeschool a special needs child. No matter how bad you think your day has been your child has learned more that day than being in a classroom!” – Houry

“You may be on the fence about homeschooling your child but that all changes when you see your child’s face just light up because they finally start understanding and they get this look of I CAN DO IT! :)” – Sharon





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Comments

  1. a49erfangirl says:

    You are so right. My son has high functioning autism. I had put him in school but they couldn’t accomodate him the way I felt he needed. They were more worried about mainstreaming and that was something he couldn’t handle. He melted down every day. It was hard seeing that. It took a while for us to get homeschooling right and for him to work with me. Now that I have found things that work it is much easier. We still are undecided on two subjects but we are getting there and that’s progress to me. I see him excel so much more now that he doesn’t have the stress. I loved reading this post!

  2. Karen M in FL says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel privileged to a part of this encouragement to other families.

  3. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am in that “I could never homeschool a special needs child phase.” He is going to Special needs school come august and since he is only 3 I figure it will be ok for now, but I will end up homeschooling if things don’t get better. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • I understand Kathryn. It feels overwhelming. I really do feel Brayden benefit from the special needs preschool because it was more about the experience, but once Kindergarten came it was about mainstreaming them and expecting them to learn at the same pace as everyone else. He’s actually advanced in Math and critical thinking (as many on the Autism Spectrum are) but delayed in reading and writing (writing mostly because of poor fine motor skills), so I’m also able to tailor specifically to his needs rather than forcing him to learn every subject at the same level. Although it’s not “true” one-on-one since I teach Aurora and him at the same time, I feel they both benefit greatly from the more hands-on attention. I will be praying for God’s guidance!

  4. Thanks so much for this wonderful and encouraging post! I am pinning it! I have a son with dyslexia and dysgraphia and it isn’t easy, but it is doable. 🙂

  5. Your whole family has a great testimony! Thanks for sharing this encouragement with everyone.

  6. Tiffany DeOs
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing. It’s great to hear that it can be done. 🙂

  7. What a wonderful story! I don’t have any special needs children but have friends that do. I will pass this on.

  8. purplesquirrel90 says:

    I don’t have any special needs kids, but I know lots of homeschooling families that do. Isn’t it interesting that no matter if our kids are “Typical” “Learning disabled” or “Gifted,” more often than not Mom and Dad are more likely to be their best/most qulified teachers~ because they know them the best, and have their best interests at heart! How good to know that you aren’t alone!

  9. Angela Wells says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! My husband and I are considering the adoption of a special needs child in the future,and I’ve often wondered about the homeschooling aspect.

  10. I’m so glad you decided to do this series, Emilee. I really believe it will help a lot of people. (And what adorable kids you have!)

  11. Wow! I’m not quite sure how I found your blog, but am so glad I did. I have 4 children. My 3 year old has sensory processing disorder and I am seeing signs in my 2 year old as well. We have been homeschooling our 7 year old since Kindergarten, and I am struggling with how I am going to be able to keep it up with the needs of the other two as well as our new baby. Lots of prayer and lots of years have been shed over this. After reading this post I am encouraged and think that I may be able to do this! Thank you for posting this.

    • *tears not years

    • You CAN Maritza! If you ever need someone to chat with please let me know! I have shared other posts on homeschooling special needs children as well and will continue to do so as I feel a passion to do so. I hope you find it helpful, but if you ever do need to chat as well please know I am available! 🙂

  12. What a blessing it was to find your post. I began homeschooling our son, who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, when he was 5 years old. He had gone to a school for Autistic children from the age of 3 to 5. When the time came to decide whether to enroll him in kindergarten at the public school or keep him at the school for Autism, the LORD called me to homeschool. It hasn’t always been easy, but I never regretted the decision. He turned 13 this year and we are experiencing some hardship dealing with adolescence. It’s been so bad that I was just looking at the website of a local Christian school, wondering if he would be better off there. Maybe I was just thinking I would be better off. After reading your post, I was convicted of what I already knew in my heart. This IS the right path for us. Thank you so much for the encouragement. You have blessed me more than you know!

  13. Tena Osborne
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wonderful of you sharing your experiences. So helpful to others!

  14. It’s not easy homeschooling SN kids (I have two at home now, and we are seriously considering bringing no. 3 home) but it really is worth it because of the ability to tailor their education to them.

  15. My daughter is severely dyslexic, and it would be VERY easy to give in to the fears that come creeping around every time she is around other kids her age who can do laps around her in terms of reading and spelling. Thanks for the encouragement here. God knew what he was doing when he created my daughter, and homeschooling has been a huge blessing for us!

    • I agree. It definitely can be hard to ignore the fears, and I’m so grateful God has our back and gives us strength. I know our children are making progress they wouldn’t be able to make in a classroom environment. I may not be patient (though I try to be!), but I’m definitely understanding. I know when to encourage them to do more or when it’s time to take a break!
      Emilee recently posted…Lacie Girl Boutique Giveaway (ends 7/24)My Profile

  16. what an amazing thing you are doing for your child i wish i would have home schooled my children. What a blessing to be able to do that. Kepp up the good work mom, I know it get overwhelming but the rewards will be great!

  17. I think that it is inspiring that you want so dearly to do right for your son. I think that is the most important part of this story. I think God does speak to us, and sometimes we do need a slap across the face. I find that I do better with slaps, as I can’t second guess my choices. It breaks my heart that so many parents are having to make big big decisions, and are let down by the mainstream environment that so many of the public schools have become.

  18. I am very glad that everything is working out for you in homeschooling. I read your post and can understand how difficult it was to make this decision. As parents we often have to learn and grow with our children

  19. Excellent post! It was a great read. There are thousands of people homeschooling kids with special needs. I did,and interviewed dozens. Choosing curriculum is like choosing shoes, as you explained in this post.

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