Finding school options for children with special needs is an almost constant struggle for many families.
“Your son is very sweet,” the other mom said gently to me, nodding at him as he walked away.
My son was heading back for his therapy appointment. Her son was already in his, so the two of us were left alone in the beige waiting room, with overly soft beige couches and classical music playing a little too loudly in the background.
Although we had never met, we were hardly strangers. Because of our glaringly obvious shared experience, our special needs mom conversation quickly progressed to the question I am most often asked in settings with other moms.
“What are you doing about school?”
The truth is, she asked it with so much obvious pain on her face, I almost felt bad answering.
She looked slightly hopeful and frustrated all in one breath. “My son had the worst couple of years at school. At first, I couldn’t get anyone to help him. They called me every single day, sometimes twice a day, because of his anxiety and behaviors. I thought once we had an IEP, things would be better, but it didn’t help. He was miserable. I was miserable and they didn’t know what to do with him. We had to pull him. Now I am homeschooling him until we figure out our next step.”
She looked away with tears in her eyes.
Her experience echos what I hear literally every single day, from moms struggling and desperate to find workable school options for their children.
Last week, my doctor told me about her son during my annual physical. “He has ADHD and they call me every day. He elopes and hates the classroom. I feel awful about it all the time, but this is his fourth school in three years. We’ve tried everything.”
Just yesterday, I received an email from a mom beside herself. Her son was just kicked out of the private school that was supposed to be the solution for his educational needs. After only four weeks, the school determined it could not allow him to stay and that his needs would be better met elsewhere.
Finding school options that work for children with special needs is an almost constant struggle for many families.
School Options For Children With Special Needs
We made the decision to homeschool about a year before we got my sons’ first diagnosis. School was a disaster for my child, every single day, and we had to try something different. But when we finally learned that my son was on the autism spectrum, almost everyone assumed I would be re-enrolling him in school.
He needs help from the experts.
You can’t take all of this on.
He is already struggling socially. How will he ever cope in social situations if you homeschool him?
I recognize that homeschooling is not for everyone and I know that some families would love to try it, but feel a financial burden so significant it makes homeschooling feel like a luxury.
I also know that many families have considered it, are considering it, or are desperately trying to figure out how to do and are not sure where to turn for help.
This is exactly why I am so honored to present to you my new book – Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs: Practical Support And Encouragement For Learning With Differences.
I wrote this book to offer another option. I wrote this book as much for the mom already homeschooling a child with differences, as for the mom who has a child in school but is trying desperately to help her daughter at home, at night, knowing she is capable of so much more than the IEP team can see.
I want to be supportive voice out there in this madness we call school for children with special needs. I want you to know you can do it, and that you probably already are in so many ways.
Most of all, I hope it helps all those moms in the waiting rooms and school principal offices, doing the very best they can, but still feeling like they are failing.
Desperate No More
You are not failing. We can argue all day long that the system most certainly is, but the system doesn’t matter when your ten year old can’t read and your eleven year old wants to die. You are not failing. You are figuring this out.
I hope this book helps ease the desperation, even just a little.
Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs: Practical Support And Encouragement For Learning With Differences is available now on Amazon.
(Click HERE to see the book’s Table Of Contents.)
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.