By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.

This morning my son and I discussed literature. Specifically, we noted a good author’s ability to challenge and strengthen the mind and character of the reader in ways mere escapist entertainment never can.

 


Steadfast Goals

Michael wants to protect his mind, because he fears the long-term prognosis of some of his conditions. He does not want to lose the ability to think or to read, as sometimes happens with degenerative disabilities. I promised him he will be well served to continue reading good books. Reading good literature will help protect his mind.

 

I pray for stronger minds for both of my children. As parents of special-needs children understand too well, my children’s prognosis is on my mind too. This helps keep me steadfast in teaching them, caring for them, and loving them.

 


Maintaining Perspectives

I recently spent several days in the Memoria Press office working on the new special-needs curriculum packages. My children were back home in Missouri. I thought of them often; however, I did not want to call so soon and make them miss me. Even as young adults, my children’s special needs often leave them feeling vulnerable.

 

So I had some quiet time on my hands in the evenings. Unaccustomed to quiet time in the evenings, suddenly I needed a book to read. (I learned that when you find yourself in Kentucky with no book to read, Martin Cothran will reach into the trunk of his car and give you a book or two by Kentucky’s own novelist and essayist Wendell Berry.)

 


Continued Blessings
That first evening back in my suite, instead of calling home, I entered Wendell Berry’s stories. The forced slowing of thought, where reading yields to contemplation, led me to welcome those hours. The characters spoke with such a casual wisdom, they reminded me of gentle insights my 100-year-old grandma shared with me without ever intending to be wise.

 

In Pray Without Ceasing,” a conversation unfolds in a farm kitchen. The grandmother describes a horrible day long ago, when she had learned of a tragedy. “Oh,” she said, “I felt it go all over me, before I knew it in my mind. I just wanted to crawl away. But I had your mother to think about. You always have somebody to think about, and it’s a blessing.”

 

As long as our children live, especially our children with special needs, we’ll always have somebody to think about. And it’s a blessing.

Donate To

This article first appeared in The Classical Teacher, Memoria Press.

Reprinted with author’s permission.

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 


By Mary Winfield


You have heard about Temple Grandin, right? If not, study up! She is amazing. During a time where children with autism were institutionalized, her mother refused to give up on her even when doctors told her Temple would never speak or function independently.

Because of her mother’s persistence, Temple now has her Ph.D in Animal Sciences and works world-wide doing autism advocacy. If you want to learn more about her life, HBO did an excellent movie (it is also free to watch on Amazon Prime). She has written several books, but the one I read most recently is called The Loving Push with Debra Moore as her co-author.

This entire book is dedicated to helping parents help their children with high functioning autism learn to become independent and successful adults. There is so much good information in this book, I highly encourage parents of teens or pre-teens to read it. It discusses dealing with depression in teens with autism and dealing with video game addictions. It also talks about preparing teenagers to drive. It follows several different families with their experiences and lessons.

The part of the book that I want to focus on in this article is preparing teenagers for their post high school lives. In, The Loving Push, they interviewed a college professor who had worked with many different students on the spectrum, and he gave 4 areas where he sees the most struggle when students come to his college: household and personal care, using independent organizational aids, asking for help, and keeping a stable mood.

Household and Personal Care
The professor reference in the book The Loving Push said that most of these teens do fine with household chores and personal care when they are at home because their parent reminds them. Their parent will tell them it is time to shower, but then doesn’t teach them how often they need to shower or teach them to look for signs of dirty/sweaty skin, greasy hair, or body odor as indicators that they need to shower. Teaching them how often to shower (and giving them examples of when to shower more frequently ex: if you are involved in sports or physical exercise) will help them be able to duplicate it on their own. 

The same goes for household chores. They may not notice when something needs to be done, but explaining things to look for or even telling them how often chores are typically done will give them concrete guidelines to follow on their own.

Independent Organizational Aids
Sometimes we try to teach too many things at once. Stepping back and thinking about a lesson’s goal and focusing on the goal instead of trying to group multiple skills will help a child learn quicker. Sometimes we may just need to focus on making a list of things to do and how to decide what to do next.

Talk about deadlines and consequences for not meeting deadlines. The ability to prioritize oftentimes is more important than what is actually on the list. Learning to prioritize and complete tasks is something parents often do for children with autism in setting schedules and routines. Helping them to master this skill for themselves is a necessary skill if they are going to be successful on their own. We can do this by having them help us create their homeschool curriculum and plan out the day and week. Talk with them about making a goal and then setting up steps to reach that goal. These are life skills that will follow them forever.

Asking for Help
The college professor they interviewed also said he saw so many students who could have done the assignments if they had asked for a little help, but they didn’t think to reach out and ask. Instead, they would try to accomplish the task on their own, and when they hit a roadblock, their conclusion reached was they just couldn’t do it. They opted to leave the assignment undone because asking for help wasn’t something they were used to doing.

Parents of autistic children often offer our help their child when he/she is struggling instead of teaching the process of asking for help. Another way to work on this skill is to enlist the help of a mentor for your child. This person becomes someone they learn to reach out to for help and guidance that isn’t constantly around them. This will further help them to practice the skill of asking for help instead of giving up on something.

Stable Mood
Having a positive mindset and reacting proportionately to situations can sometimes be a struggle for our children. One tip discussed in the book is to help them know how to duplicate good behavior and a positive mindset by giving specific and positive feedback. Temple says saying things like, “You are so kind” won’t hold very much meaning for teens on the spectrum. Saying, “Helping me with the dishes was so kind. It made me feel happy and proud of you” instead will help them to know what constitutes being kind, how it makes someone else feel, and incentive to repeat the behavior.

Furthermore, helping a child with autism remember that one failure or setback isn’t permanent and doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in the future is important. Reminding them of past successes when they suffer a setback and talking about solutions to their current problem will help them learn to persist through a struggle. If they struggle in one area, showing them their whole life is not a failure by reminding them of the areas they accel is also important. Be sure to show them strengths and weaknesses in other people as well.

“The Loving Push”
The title of the book explains to us how we need to approach preparing teenagers to be adults. Our kids are more likely to just want to stay in their routines and scripts instead of venturing out and trying new things. That means that we have to be the ones who give them a push out of their comfort zone and make them try new things. Giving them these pushes in a loving way so they know they have a safe place with lots of support will help give them the confidence to try new things in the future and transition into adulthood successfully.

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

 


By Peggy Ployhar

How NOT to Transition
I wish I could say I was calm, cool, and collected when I transitioned my oldest into high school, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was a massive bundle of nerves.

To make matters worse, in my pursuit to try to turn my frenzied state into a systematic approach for the upcoming transition, I signed up to attend a “How to Homeschool High School” workshop for typical students. I subsequently left that full-day seminar almost in tears because I felt the outline I had been given to follow was a near impossible task to require from my son.

Needless to say, I have made it through the high school years now with two struggling learners and am on the home stretch in homeschooling my youngest who challenges me on the other end of the spectrum as a gifted learner.

Over the years, I have learned a lot of lessons about what is really important to know when making a transition into high school for an atypical student and what you need to throw out the window OR put off until a later day so you don’t lose your mind.

Below are my biggest transitioning tips I want to pass along so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made.

10 Tips for Making Your Homeschool Transition to High School Successful

1 – Start with the Right Perspective and Make a Preliminary Plan
To start out your 1st year of homeschooling high school, in a much less stressful state than I did, here are 5 perspective setting points to guide you.

  1. Focus on where your child is at NOW, not where you wish they would have been when starting their high school transition.
  2. Develop GENERAL graduation expectations you and your spouse feel your student MUST accomplish before you will allow him/her to receive a diploma
  3. Include your student’s aspirations, skills, and interests in your plan.
  4. Don’t even look at putting together a transcript until the end of your 1st year. This time delay will allow you to get a better handle on what pace your child can keep, and it will put a lot less stress on both of you as you during this transition year.
  5. Each year focus on 3 main goals and make those goals measurable and relative to the items you have determined above in your preliminary plan. Fill in with other classes and learning activities once you feel your student is making progress on these critical goals.

 

2 – Take One Year at a Time
It would be wonderful if we and our children had a clear-cut idea of where their lives are headed once they transition out of high school, but very few do. Instead of setting your plan up for failure by laying out a 4-year transition plan before you start your first year of homeschooling high school, it is best to write your plan one year at a time with a projected outcome you can tweak along the way.

I would also warn against not having a plan at all. Check out this short video for a bit more information on how to go about creating a 4-year transition plan one year at a time, while still maintaining a focus on your student’s education. This video will take you through how I took one year at a time in teaching my oldest child.

Homeschool High School Plans

3 – Develop Your Whole Child Through the Process
Too often the high school years get so overloaded with academics, we sometimes forget how important the non-academic parts of our student’s education are. Teaching a young adult how to cook, clean, do yard work, maintain a budget, develop their own faith life, drive, work with other people, and so many other adulting life skills will round out your student for everything life will require of them after they graduate.

4 – Follow the Checklist
We at SPED Homeschool have developed a  SPED Homeschool High School checklist to help parents easily remember all the important things to keep in mind or know when homeschooling a student with special educational needs through high school.

5 – School However Long It Takes
High school for many students with special needs or learning disabilities goes beyond their 18th birthday. In most states, you can homeschool your student as long as you deem necessary for their transition into post-high school life. You will want to check with your state homeschool laws  or HSLDA to ensure this is the case for your state, but also keep in mind that the IDEA allows for students to receive special education services up to age 21 (22 in some states), so many states allow the same at least for homeschooled students.

To further encourage you on this point, I suggest watching this video entitled “Is 18 the Magical Graduation Age?”

Is 18 the Magical Graduation Age?

 

6 – Don’t Be Afraid to be Creative
One thing too many parents do without even realizing it is move towards a more formal approach to education when their student enters their high school years. Just because high school is taught in traditional schools with a more compartmentalized approach, that doesn’t mean you have to force your homeschool to mimic a traditional school for your student to receive an adequate education.

 

I used unit studies all the way through high school with my oldest child, and doing so offered him the hands-on approach he needed to stay engaged with his learning. If you want to find out more about how to homeschool high school using unit studies, watch this video.

 

 

 

Unit Studies in High School

 

7 – Don’t Let the Transcript Hold You Captive
The high school years can be a great time for your student to discover what they love to do and what they don’t. Taking a less rigid approach to homeschooling in high school will allow your student to learn some new skills without feeling like a slave to them if they end up not being his cup or tea. At the end of the year, it is much easier to clump a series of related learning activities into a creatively labeled class instead of forcing your student through an entire year of learning a particular aspect of a subject he lost interest in back in October.

 

8 – Derailments Happen
In some cases, things happen during your student’s schooling career that keeps her from obtaining all the plans you had hoped she would achieve during her homeschool high school career. When this happens you must remember this derailment doesn’t mean you have failed your child or her future will be bleak because her education has been derailed.

 

I say this all calmly now, but when my second oldest told me he was done with school at age 16, I was anything but calm. To read more about that story and how God has been working out his plan through that derailment, read my article “When Your Student Derails Your Homeschool High School Plan.” 

 

 
9 – Keep the Bigger Picture Always in Front of You
When you start to stress, take a step back and make sure you are not stressing over the small stuff. Pray, ask God for a renewed perspective, and remember to give the most attention to helping your student achieve his main three yearly goals. The rest will fall into place when you keep your focus and trust in God to help you through each step of these homeschooling years.

 

10 – Stay Connected
You can’t do this alone because it is too easy to think you are the only one struggling to teach your student day in and day out. You need fellowship! The SPED Homeschool Tribes are a great way to connect with other parents who understand what it’s like in your homeschool because they live out the same scenarios in theirs.

 

If you follow these 10 tips you will be able to transition into these wonderful years with your student much more gracefully than I did. I have to say these were my favorite years of homeschooling my boys because I was front and center in their lives as they moved from being children to adults. I pray your years ahead will be equally blessed as you persevere forward into your own homeschooling high school years.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today

 

 

By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed
 

When many of our friends are becoming somewhat reluctant “empty-nesters,” my husband and I realize that we need to continue homeschooling our children even beyond their graduation. At 19, neither of our special-needs twins can attend college, yet both want to continue learning. Over time, their difficulties have not lessened but increased. We have learned to relax our expectations, but not the quality of our courses or methods.

Cultivating Beyond Conditions
My son has embarked on Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Music Theory, Introduction to Composition, and other classes at home. He learns slowly, but with Socratic questioning and purpose. As his medical conditions progress, he hopes his continued education will strengthen his otherwise weakening mind.

We required years to master Latina Christiana I, but Michael told me, “Latin is so meticulous and systematic, I think it takes my boggled mind and sorts it out.” He added, “I want to study Latin forever.” His twin sister Michelle chimed in, “Me too.” Most of my daughter’s academic abilities never progressed to the level of her brother’s, but she enjoyed beginning elements of each area in the liberal arts, all bathed in truths from theology, the queen of the liberal sciences.

Cultivating Between the Lines
As classical teachers, we want to help our children love truth, goodness, and beauty. We encourage this through the liberal arts, sciences, and the great literature of Western civilization. Each of our children have been able to grasp unique aspects of this.

One day we read  The Merchant of Venice together. My concrete-thinking son understood very little, but Michelle loved Portia’s famous speech on mercy. She played Portia in each scene. When Bassanio (reluctantly played by Michael) noted that outward appearance does not always show inward beauty, Michael paused at the wisdom of this insight. In the play, Bassanio references Troy and Hercules, so we recalled our beginning classical studies.


Cultivating From the Heavens

Hours later the same day, my husband located some star guides and gathered the children. Equipped with binoculars, we all settled in on a big blanket for an early autumn evening of stargazing. On such occasions, we see how all learning comes together in gratifying ways. Lying still in an open field near the woods that night, we marveled at the many clusters of stars in our country sky. My daughter recalled Abraham and the promise about his descendants. My husband identified the constellation, Aquila. Michelle said she knew from Latin it would be an eagle. We smiled to ourselves. My husband pointed out various constellations and the planet Mars. The names of constellations prompted stories from Greek and Roman mythology, and our children know these far better than we do.

Cultivating Shared Experiences
As a family that evening, we all relaxed together, captivated by one of those rare moments that instantly beautify family life. When the darkness deepened in the sky, we spotted the Big Dipper low on the horizon. My husband noted the trapezoid shape of its ladle, and my children agreed. They knew the shape from former geometry studies. He pointed to another constellation, “forty-five degrees from the bright star overhead.” As the children followed his finger, I remembered all the protractors from our many years of basic geometry lessons together. We searched the rugged craters of the moon through our binoculars. My son surprised me by noting the half moon’s appearance as “a perfect semi-circle, with the diameter bisecting the whole.” Then, for a moment, we fell silent.

Cultivating Unceasing Joy
A fall chill descended under those stars. Snuggling our fragile daughter to keep her warm, I appreciated the richness a classical education offers even to children such as ours. If their abilities continue to fade with the progression of their illnesses, we can still enjoy the opportunity to homeschool our children into their adult years. “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.” (Psalm 104:24)

Copied, with author’s permission from Memoria Press

 

 


Did you know SPED Homeschool is 100% donor funded?

Donate today

 

 

 

By Shanel Tarrant-Simone

Planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future​ ​often​ ​looks​ ​different​ ​and​ ​should​ ​start​ ​early​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children​ ​with learning​ ​differences​ ​and​ ​special​ ​needs.​ Below I’ll​ ​be​ ​covering​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​topics​ ​that​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​you​ ​will​ ​find helpful​ ​when​ ​planning​ ​​your​ ​child’s​ ​future.  We will address​ ​foundational​ ​skills​ ​and how​ ​to​ ​access​ ​resources​ ​at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age.​

​​Through​ ​​almost​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​of​ ​working​ ​in​ ​public school​ ​special​ ​education,​ ​and ​being​ ​a​ ​mom​ ​of​ seventeen-year-old ​twin​ ​boys​ ​with​ ​Level​ ​3 Autism,​ ​I’ve​ ​learned​ ​that​ Activities ​of​ ​Daily Living (ADL)​ ​are​ ​vital ​in​ ​accessing​ ​the​ ​community​ ​when​ ​our​ ​children​ ​are​ ​no longer​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​ADLs​ ​are​ ​the​ ​skills​ ​our​ ​children​ ​will​ ​need​ ​to​ ​function​ ​as independently​ ​as​ ​possible,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​what​ ​the​ ​future​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​them.

 

When​ ​should​ ​I​ ​start​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future?​
It’s​ ​never​ ​too​ ​early​ ​to​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​homeschool​ ​curriculum​ ​and​ ​”lifestyle​ ​of learning”​ ​should​ ​support​ ​our​ ​child’s​ ​post​ ​school​ ​goals​ ​soon​ ​after​ ​diagnosis​ ​or​ ​as​ ​early as​ ​elementary​ ​age.​ ​And,​ ​because​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​children​ ​need​ ​longer​ ​to​ ​acquire​ ​even some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​basic​ ​skills,​ ​teaching​ ​towards​ ​independence​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as​ ​possible​ ​starts​ ​at the​ ​preschool​ ​level.​ ​​ ​This​ ​ ​includes​ ​the​ ​most​ ​important​ ​and​ ​often​ ​overlooked​ ​skill​ ​of Functional​ ​Communication​.​

​The​ ​best​ ​advice​ ​I’ve​ ​ever​ ​heard​ ​from​ ​someone​ ​working​ ​with adults​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Spectrum​ ​is​ ​that​ ​“functional​ ​language​ ​and​ ​safely​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​use​ ​a​ ​public restroom​ ​are​ ​the​ ​two​ ​most​ ​important​ ​skills​ ​we​ ​can​ ​give​ ​a​ ​special​ ​needs​ ​child/adult. Academics​ ​are​ ​important​ ​but​ are less so ​if​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​these​ ​two​ ​basics mastered.”  

 

What questions should I be asking in​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future?​

  • Education​: Will​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future​ ​include​ ​attending​ ​college,​ ​Trade/Vocational​ ​School​ ​or spending​ ​several​ ​days​ ​each​ ​week​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community​ ​at​ ​a​ ​DayHab​ ​facility?
  • Legal​​: Do​ ​I​ ​have​ ​all​ ​the​ ​necessary​ ​documents​ ​in​ ​place​ ​such​ ​as​ ​a​ ​will​ ​and​ ​Special Needs​ ​Trust?​ ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​need​ ​full​ ​Guardianship​ ​or​ ​will​ ​Supported​ ​Decision​ ​Making​ ​be enough?
  • Living​ ​Arrangement​​:  Will​ ​they​ ​live​ ​independently?​ ​If​ ​so,​ ​where?​ ​Is​ ​Supported (semi-independent)​ ​Living,​ ​Group​ ​Home​ ​or​ ​Host​ ​Home​ ​Companion​ ​(Foster​ ​Care)​ ​the best​ ​option?​ ​Or​ ​will​ ​they​ ​remain​ ​at​ ​home​ ​with​ ​family?​ ​What​ ​supports​ ​will​ ​they​ ​need​ ​to access​ ​the​ ​community?
  • Job/Financial​​: ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​have​ ​a​ ​job?​ ​Volunteer?​ ​Need​ ​Employment​ ​Assistance​ ​or Supported​ ​Employment?
  • Local​ ​&​ ​State​ ​Services​​:  Who​ ​is​ ​my​ ​Local​ ​Authority?​ ​What​ ​services​ ​are​ ​available​ ​to​ ​my child​ ​as​ ​a​ ​minor​ ​and​ ​what​ ​services​ ​will​ ​be​ ​available​ ​to​ ​support​ ​them​ ​as​ ​an​ ​adult?​ ​Is there​ ​a​ ​waiver​ ​list​ ​that​ ​would​ ​help​ ​support​ ​their​ ​community-based,​ ​behavioral,​ ​medical and​ ​financial​ ​needs?​ ​Should​ ​I​ ​apply​ ​for​ ​SSI​ ​and​ ​Medicaid?     

 

These​ ​are​ ​just​ ​a​ ​few​ ​of​ ​the​ ​many​ ​decisions​ ​that​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​made​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children.​ ​Some at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age, ​others​ ​once​ ​they​ ​reach​ ​high​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​currently​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​more​ ​time​-​sensitive​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​adult​ ​transition​ ​decisions​ ​for​ ​my boys.​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​my​ ​experiences​ ​over​ ​the​ ​last​ ​twelve ​years​ ​will ​be​ ​helpful​ ​to​ ​you​ ​and​ ​your family​ ​when​ ​making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​these​ ​​difficult​ ​but​ ​necessary​ ​decisions.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today!