I am thinking about enrolling my eight-year-old son at a school for children with “special needs”. However, I think that it is important that you understand his “special” needs before you can offer advice that could help this transition move smoothly. He has a condition called Asperger’s Syndrome; this is the same as high functioning autism.
Since he started learning when he was five, he has been home schooled because I worried that normal schools wouldn’t handle his condition. Although he is intelligent, sweet, fun loving, creative and generally eager to learn, his condition sometimes causes him to be difficult to work with at times.
At times he may seem uncooperative; but this is not a sign of defiance or disrespect. He may be overstimulated, or just very interested in what he is doing.
My husband thinks that we should continue home schooling him but I believe that being around other children might just make a positive difference. What do you think? I’m kind of open to anything as long as it shows promise and are there places you can recommend for this?
The counselor’s thoughts...
Dear Kathy, a special education programme is very important to children like yours because it’s specifically packaged with particular objectives and an outline of educational services that meet the needs of exceptional students who typically require additional supports in order to meet their learning potential.
If there is open, constructive dialogue that puts the child’s needs at the centre of all decisions, creative and positive solutions can be found to assist this child in building a much brighter future.
Although parents have the right to home-school their child under certain conditions, you cannot hire someone nor do the entire teaching on your own to assist your child satisfactorily at home because going to school goes beyond just attending lessons to socialising with fellow learners, which is a key factor in every student’s future life.
Contact your local school and arrange to speak with the principal. The school will discuss the ways the school might meet your child’s needs. If you agree that the child has special education needs, then the nature of special education programme or services are best for the child.
The school principal ensures that qualified staff is assigned to teach your child in a special manner. Teachers have professional experience and are trained to handle children with special needs. Try to monitor the child’s progress by keeping a close link with the teachers and the school administration, asking for provincial report cards is also one way you can validate the progress of their child.
Parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s learning and to share any information that would assist in decision making relating to their child’s learning at the school. They have a right to request regular meetings with school staff and with the classroom teacher to express any concerns they might have about their child’s learning, assessments and evaluations. You should speak with your child’s teacher(s) explaining the reasons why you think a special needs programme would be beneficial and share any relevant strategies of helping the child learn better.
Your feedback: Readers advise Lucy
Give home schooling a chance
I don’t think you have anything to lose by giving home schooling a chance. You can always enroll your child in school and since your husband also agrees with that, continue homeschooling him where you can make a close follow up.
He needs to interact with other kids
Your child is lucky to have such an understanding mother who wants him to get the necessary assistance. I think you should enroll your son in school because being with other children will help him grow into a confident person, homeschooling your son will just make it worse for him and yourself when he grows up.
Explore all options
I encourage you to explore all options for your son. Homeschooling may be the best for him but there are a number of schools out there that may work extremely well too. If you homeschool your child I think it’s the best way to follow up on your child, especially if he has special needs. But whatever you decide, I wish you and your son all the best in future.
Don’t make hasty decisions
One of the things that could be very useful would be to do research before you make any conclusions since this will affect your son’s future. If need be, talk to a therapist, but in my opinion, I think you should take your child to school since this will at least improve his social skills through interacting with other people.
Don’t limit his abilities
Being at home will not make it easier for him, it will be like avoiding what he is incapable of doing and this will not be of any help at all. It’s up to you to force him out, deal with his inabilities and get him near people instead of keeping him indoors.
He needs to go to school
Let him go to school and be like other children. What if he was born without legs, would you homeschool him too? Sometimes we make things look more complicated than they are in real sense. There are children born with far worse complications than that, don’t make your son feel out of place, let him see the world from his own perspective. Take him to school.
Help him adjust
Teaching your son about his condition and teaching him to accept himself as he is will help tremendously, whether he is homeschooled or not. All people are born different and it’s just a matter of understanding and being yourself that matters the most.
Talk to parents in the same situation
I advise you to continue homeschooling your son, may be find parents who have children with the same condition, you never know your son may experience changes in his life for the better. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll do great with your son.
A special school will help
I know this is a tough situation and I pray that you will figure out what your next step is. Remember that even if you do not enroll your son in a public school, he will still have the problem. So I think you’re right about wanting to put him in a special school. This will at least help with the situation.
Isolation will not help
I urge you to connect with other parents who are experiencing the same thing with their kids. But I would advise you to take your child to school to be with other kids, isolating him will only worsen the situation.
School might be better
I think you should send your kid to school, homeschooling may work best in the short run but it won’t work that well in the long run. A person with social difficulties needs social interaction. I think sending him to school is the best.
He will be bullied in school
Children with Asperger’s have a hard time growing up and it’s complicated for them to have a happy life at school. If you want your son to have a happy life and not grow into a deep depressed, you should homeschool him so that he is not bullied at school.
Help people understand his condition
If you’re willing to be open about your son’s condition you have to let people know your child has a special condition, people respond better to things they understand. If they know your son has different social skills because he has Asperger’s and isn’t just “weird”, they may be more helpful, so consider enrolling your son in a school instead of homeschooling him.