SPED Homeschool Team

How do families find community while homeschooling? Sometimes, finding our extended network of friends comes easily. And sometimes, it’s a challenge. Every month we ask our SPED Homeschool team to share their own experiences navigating through the highs – and lows – of homeschooling. We live in different places with children that are different ages, have different diagnoses, and different interests. And the way we find community is also different.

 

Finding Our Foundation by Cammie Arn

Building community around here starts with our church and finishes with our homeschool community. 

We began this journey as a military family and moved frequently so finding community was hard because it takes time to build relationships with others. Once we separated from the military, it became easier. Having eight children over a twenty-year span has given my family countless opportunities to plug into different groups and organizations. I have been a ballroom dance mom, a theater mom, a choir mom, a speech and debate mom, a Taekwondo mom, a soccer mom, a baseball mom, and a ministry mom. While involved in all these different activities, we were able to find community based on both faith and common interests.

I find the biggest key to building a community for our family started with being willing to meet someone else’s needs first. That is where community truly begins. 

 

Encouraged by Co-Op by Dawn Spence

One thing that I learned early on in homeschooling is that we needed a community. I wanted to walk along those with similar goals and those who could celebrate the good times and pray for me in the bad times. Having these meaningful connections is one way I take care of myself emotionally and physically. Our homeschooling community included our co-op. They were amazing as they embraced my daughter with special needs. That was important for us because whatever we choose to do, it would have to fit everyone. Through co-op, we found friends that have a big part in our community. While our co-op has not met yet this year, our community of homeschooling friends has been a source of constant encouragement. This journey for our family needs and thrives on our community.

 

Small but Substantial by Lara Lee

It is hard to be involved in everything, but the few groups we are committed to have helped all of us have relationships in a way that is not overwhelming. Even though we are part of the Texas Homeschool Coalition, sometimes therapy schedules and medical appointments make it difficult to attend activities to meet other parents. While we share an interest in homeschooling, I often end up feeling down over the fact that my special needs child is not able to do what other children can do. I end up feeling pressure, discontentment, or that we are behind. I stay in touch with the organization for ideas and resources, but we find our community in other places.

For us, our homeschool communities have come from the various therapies and outside interests my son has. We were able to find therapeutic horseback riding that works with a sliding pay scale. The horses helped my son in so many ways, and we were also to have a group of friends with diverse needs who share this same interest in horseback riding. My son can succeed and even compete at this. 

We also have a great church community with a few homeschoolers. The church has provided support, adoptive grandparents, and friends of all ages.

 

Starting Over Again by Peggy Ployhar

Since we have lived in many places over our 18 years of homeschooling, we have had to build, and rebuild, our homeschooling community. From living in the suburbs surrounded by fellow homeschoolers, to dealing with weather and small-town cultural issues that kept us rather isolated, to being transient as we lived and homeschooled in our RV twice, we found that adapting how we found and created community was different, but nonetheless rewarding for our efforts. In the times of plenty, we chose wisely which groups and activities we should participate in. In times of scarcity, we relished the few friendships God allowed us to entertain and the diversity of community and cultural experiences we enjoyed with those who allowed us to come into their lives. And, in the times when we didn’t have a distinct place to put down our roots for too long, we enjoyed the community of our family and the new experiences and discoveries we were allowed to experience together. We have learned that community is what you make of the relationships you have right in front of you, instead of letting them slip through your fingers in the pursuit of something better, more typical, or what you had envisioned.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Cammie Arn

When I was first told that my 9 year old son qualified for “hippo therapy,” I was so confused. I live in the heart of Texas, and the only “hippos” I knew of were in a zoo. Then, the Occupational Therapist politely smiled at me and explained that “hippo” meant horse. My son qualified for horse therapy or equine therapy. Now, I understood. But what would be the benefits of hippotherapy for my son with Sensory Integration Disorder?

 

That first day a whole new world opened up for my son. Having to assimilate the pungent smell, the dust everywhere, an animal he wasn’t in control of, the breeze blowing and the therapist talking was enough to either shut him down or send him into a rage. I expected the worst. Instead, he got onto the horse, backwards. Backwards? Um, what?

 

It was then explained that riding backwards caused his body to learn to balance and sift through all the other sensory stimuli at the same time. Amazing! My son loved it! Not only that but the extra benefit of hippotherapy was my son’s  pride that he was going horseback riding versus going to therapy. He was excited and motivated to go again.

 

My son continued in this type of therapy twice a week for one year. This was his turning point. Each week I watched him master the skills asked of him along with learning to  control an animal. His confidence grew in other areas as well. Soon he graduated from his OT program. I was elated to see such improvement in my son. Not only did he gain a confidence boost he was able to focus better on his schoolwork, listen to my instructions over the noises of his younger siblings, retain knowledge learned and tolerate food without vomiting. The only bittersweet thing was that he lost his routine for those afternoons until we discovered Tae Kwon Do met at the same time. Hippotherapy gave him the skills and confidence he needed to pursue other things in life.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

Most teens outgrow the therapy model at some point in their junior high or high school years. Transferring ownership for continued growth in these therapeutic areas is a key element to ensuring that your student doesn’t stop working on new skills or practicing ones already mastered in a traditional therapy program. To accommodate your student’s desire for independence, this transitioning process requires your child to adopt regular activities which will assimilate therapy work into his or her normal routines.

 

Here are some ways your teen can continue working on occupational, physical, social, and speech therapy goals without going to regular therapy.

 

Speech Therapy Ideas:
Read out loud
Order food at a restaurant
Ask for directions
Sing
Memorize jokes and then tell them to others
Story telling
Make videos or voice recordings


Occupational Therapy Ideas:
Cooking
Yard Work
House Maintenance
Auto Repair
Assemble Purchases (“Some assembly required”)

Laundry
House Cleaning
Gardening

 

Physical Therapy Ideas:
Martial arts
Swimming
Golf
Tennis
Rollerblading
Ice skating
Biking
Running
Walking

 

Social Skill Therapy Ideas:
Join a club or special interest group
Participate in a local event as a volunteer
Be a mother’s helper
Volunteer at church
Start conversations with vendors at your county or state fair
Participate in 4H
Join a book cub

 

I am sure you can think of many more great ideas, and we would love for you to share them with our community by commenting below or on our social media shares of this article.

 

If you are looking for more resources for homeschooling your teen through high school, make sure to check out these other resources on our website:

 

 


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By Amy Vickrey, MSE

In my time as a teacher, I worked with many therapists. They are wonderful people with a wealth of information and resources! I also had the opportunity through one program I worked in to take part in home visits. If you are considering or have therapists who come to your home, here are some things to consider helping everyone be more comfortable.

  • If you offer a drink, offer something that comes prepackaged like bottled water. Your therapist may not be comfortable drinking out of other people’s cups like I was because of my food sensitivities.
  • Most will not accept offers of food or drink…they are encouraged to take care of these needs between visits.
  • Most will not use the bathrooms as they do not want to make you feel uncomfortable about them being in your house. If you are okay with them using the bathroom, it is ok for you to let them know in case there is ever a need. They might still say no.
  • If there are changes occurring in the home, it might be important to share so that the therapist can take this into consideration if your child slows down or regresses in therapy.
  • Before or after, save a few minutes of time to ask questions and let them know about progress or issues that arise related to the therapy. You see your child every day; they see them once or twice a week. You may see something before they do, and it helps to set a bigger picture.
  • Talk to them about questions and concerns that you may have, even if they seem unrelated. Many therapists have worked in teams with other specialists and can at least steer you in the right direction for concerns you have.
  • Share good things you are doing to help therapy along, like practicing skills, adding cross-midline exercises or even supplements that might be beneficial!
  • It’s ok to listen in, take notes, or watch what the therapist is doing so you can learn about how to help your child too!
  • Say “Thank You!” Even just a verbal thank you, a card made by your child, or praise for the work they are doing is appreciated! Many companies don’t allow the acceptance of gifts (especially if they are valued over a certain amount) but a simple thank you is always appreciated!

Are you looking for more ideas on how to incorporate therapy into your homeschooling?  Then make sure to check out our at At Home Therapy Resources as well as the SPED Homeschool Therapy Partners page.

 

 


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You’ve been staring at the paper for what seems like hours. It answers your questions, but now there are so many more.

 

The diagnosis
Now you know the specific issues, but do you know what to do or what specific program and organization to choose? When you feel overwhelmed with the big picture, it helps to break it down into smaller pieces with action steps.

 

1. What are the specific needs of my child?

  • Testing shows specific areas of strength and weakness in our kids. The diagnosis is a jumping off point, a road map of where you are with goals of where to go.
  • Do you understand the diagnosis? It’s up to the diagnostician to explain the results. Many people leave the meeting not understanding what to do or where to go. There are people who can help. The Thinking and Learning Center and other SPED Homeschool partners offer consultation to help you decipher the results. 
  • Make a list of the specific areas where your child is struggling and what type of help you want for those issues. Be sure to also list the areas of strengths!

 

2. What are my boundaries?

Before you start any therapy, take a realistic look at where you are and what you can do. Therapy needs to be taken seriously by the child and the parents.

  • Will be there be work to do between appointments?
  • What is the time commitment, for actual therapy and driving?
  • What costs are involved?

List what you are willing to do and what you can not afford to do,  financially, time-wise, with travel, or emotionally. 

If you find a program you want to pursue, but think it is outside your set limits, ask the provider if there is something they can do to help you stay within your desirable boundaries. Some places offer payment plans or financial breaks to offset their costs. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

 

3. What aspects of this program would work for my child and which would not?

  • Make a list of what you want to get out of a program. Does the specific program offer it?
  • Put the list of your child’s needs next to the attributes of the program and write down what part of the program would specifically help each issue.
  • Are there any issues that the testing showed, or any that you or your student want addressed that is not in the program? Ask the teacher/therapist if the issue is addressed and how.

 

Before starting any program, make sure it is the right one for your child. You want a program that will set goals and reevaluate those goals periodically. Once your find a program, trust it. Some programs or issues take time for results to show. Be patient and keep in contact with your child’s therapist.

 

 

 

 


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