Education can be a challenge for any child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. In response, there are many parents who turn to homeschooling1 rather than traditional education means. However, to unlock your child’s full potential, you have to make the most of your homeschooling lessons.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the ways that you can help your child thrive in their early education and beyond. With these tips, not only will you and your child get the most out of your lessons, it will also keep you from getting too frustrated and burning out quickly while you work on lessons.
Use Fixations to Your Advantage
One thing that is common for children with autism spectrum disorder is to get fixated on certain topics. However, this single-mindedness can be used to an advantage. Whatever your child is fixated on at the moment, incorporate it into your lessons! This way, you are tying the new knowledge they need to know to something they already love and are interested in. Not only will this help them to remember the information as they learn, it will make the learning process interesting for them and help to hold their attention.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Breaks
One thing that can overwhelm any child – especially one with ASD – is working long hours non-stop. In fact, this can be why traditional schooling doesn’t work for some children. So, don’t force long hours on your child when you are homeschooling them.
Instead, take breaks throughout the day. The best way to do this is to take short breaks between lessons to allow your child to relax and refocus2. If you don’t do this, you might find that by the end of the day your child is too burnt out to properly obtain the information you are teaching them.
One concern that many parents have for their children with ASD is how they will relate to others in real world situations. As a parent and teacher, though, it is your job to make sure that you socialize your child3. This is especially important when you take your child out of public school, limiting the amount of time they spend with other children.
However, you can still socialize your child with methods such as frequent field trips. In fact, you can once again center these field trips around the fixations of your child so that they remain interested and engaged.
Keep A Visible Schedule
One way that you can help to keep your child on track is to keep a routine4. Children with ASD do particularly well when they have some structure to their day. If you change your routine up every day, your child may have trouble with getting focused on work or transitioning from task to task.
It is also a good idea to keep this schedule somewhere visible so that your child can view it daily and be able to check it throughout the day. If you want, you can even make this schedule bright and colorful or interactive so that your child can “check off” things that they do throughout the day.
Move Around A Bit
Another thing that can be difficult for a child with ASD is to sit still for hours at a time. We have already gone over the fact that you can take breaks from your lesson plans to break this up but there is one more thing you can do: incorporate movement into your lesson.
Don’t be afraid to vary your learning content a bit. Instead of reading out of a textbook or taking notes, try an activity where you and your child can run, jump around, and just generally play while you learn.
Take Your Time
When you are getting ready to homeschool your child, don’t get too overzealous right away. If you end up buying tons of textbooks and materials, you are likely to end up not using all of them. Instead, take a couple weeks and pay attention to how your child learns and works best. Once you know how and where your child works best, you can tailor your lesson plans to fit their needs.
This is one way that homeschooling has an advantage over traditional schooling. When you are teaching just your child, you can personalize teaching in a way that a teacher in charge of a class of 30 can’t.
Don’t Be Afraid of Asking for Help
Finally, don’t think that you are in this alone. Homeschooling an autistic child is a huge responsibility but there are plenty of resources from online materials and resources to professional help such as accredited learning partners. Above all, though, remember to be patient with yourself – this a learning experience for you too.