A recent Facebook Live session answered 15 special needs questions specifically addressed to homeschoolers! We had a great turnout with Jean Wetherilt, MPE’s special needs coordinator and owner of the PossAbilities Pediatric Therapy Clinics in Merriam and Lee’s Summit.
First, Jean spoke briefly about ways to begin your homeschooling journey, once you address your student’s special needs. Then she took questions from the audience. You can replay the video below:
The top 10 special needs questions answered during the Facebook Live
- “I’d love to know if there are any special legal requirements or tips. I’ve heard some suggest creating an IEP even if you homeschool. Thoughts on this?”
- “Are there any programs that provide assistance for assistive technology for our kids? We use Bookshare. But wondering if there is anything to help with other technology”
- “I’m not sure how to phrase this. I’m homeschooling 3 children, 14, 12, and 7. We also have guardianship of a 2 year old niece. We don’t have money for testing, but we suspect that the 12 year old and 2 year old are very low on the autism spectrum. Not severe enough to cause major problems, but apparent enough that things get frustrating quite often. I guess what I’m asking, is, are there any tips for my 12 year old while schooling him, or thoughts on how to deal with my niece while I’m trying to school the other children?”
- “My son has dyslexia, and I’ve heard of different therapy that can help “wake up the brain” and stimulate some areas of the brain. I would love any strategies we can do at home, as well as advice on ADD and executive function for kids with dyslexia.”
- “Should you teach the material/curriculum at grade level or ability level to a child that is intellectually disabled?”
- “I’ve been home schooling 9 years. My special girl has traumatic brain injury, Eosinphalic disease, ptsd, and severe anxiety. I still struggle teaching her to understand math and telling time. She has mixed expressive receptive language disorder. What are some resources I can look into for more support?”
- Curriculum questions: 1) “Do you have recommendations of curriculums to consider?” 2) “What curriculum to use to teach a child to read with apraxia or phonological speech disorder that affects them sounding out words phonically. Tx.” 3) “Can you recommend a social skills workbook? The ones I found are geared more toward socializing in the classroom. They don’t really for with the outside world.” 4) “Suggestions for free or reasonably priced curriculum for a 7th grader w/ an LD in math & reading & who is moderately dyslexic?”
- “Are these info classes always via webinar? Or are any in person??”
- “Any other IEP resources other than hslda (for Kansas)”
- “When a child is tested at your clinic, can the parents sit in?” The answer is absolutely!
Jean also spent some time explaining some of the benefits of homeschooling with special needs: it allows an opportunity to build a foundation for academic learning.
While schools try to teach to different learning styles, some kids don’t always get those needs met in a traditional classroom. Homeschooling can allow them time to develop independence, and life skills – an area that’s sometimes overlooked.
Homeschooling also allows for more flexibility in the day – longer recesses (can we get an amen?!), catering to different sensory modalities, and extracurricular activities.
Jean talked about setting up the optimal environment for your children to learn, especially seating. Visual difficulties, or core postural disability, or other factors could hamper your child’s ability to sit at a desk and focus.
Another benefit of homeschooling is the multigenerational influence. Jean mentioned going to a facility for Alzheimer’s patients with her kids while homeschooling, and how the whole family benefited from those interactions. Just questions like, “How many people can you make smile today?”
Jean also mentioned how homeschool parents need to be a student of their student. Observations in a journal, sensory diets, watching screen time and even dietary changes, can all make a difference.