11 April 2009

Homeschooling Special-Needs Children

Recently, LAA and Family left a comment on my blog about special needs homeschooling, and some of my comments are in black:

I hope you and Emperor will be happier with him being home. I'm really surprised that a school would "suspend" a kindergartner! Yep, you'd think... But Emperor managed to get himself suspended a couple of times in those first couple of weeks. I won't deny that the kid could be "naughty," and I'm not just making the excuse that my kid can do whatever he wants because he has sensory issues... but yeah. You would think that his coming from a "special needs" preschool would clue the staff to the fact that Emperor might have... oh, I don't know... "special needs," maybe? JUST because he didn't have a special educational label, DOESN'T mean the kid didn't get special help at the preschool for a reason. The morons.

While I think I may have hurt my son's special education teacher's feelings when I withdrew him from school, I don't think anybody was unhappy to see him go. Isn't that sad? I can feel for you. Sometimes I wonder in retrospect if my younger children and I weren't sort of "pushed" out of the system. Sure does make things cheaper for them...

He was never all that much of a behavior problem but the likelihood was becoming much greater the older he got. With you there. The cute five-year-old who likes to pretend he his a pinball and spin everywhere is almost sort of cute, but the 16-year-old who does it is seen as rather belligerent. And my son would NO WAY sit still, which is seen as disobedient. Yet he's really very smart. This kid could add columns of multidigit numbers upon ENTRANCE into kindergarten, but goody for them if they weren't trying to teach him what a "square" was anyway as part of the math curriculum. His messy handwriting could really fool you into thinking he is less intelligent or mature than he really is.

I really like HSLDA.. but for all they recommend you do for homeschooling a special needs child or "struggling learner" as they call them, (documentation, using a consultant, etc..) it almost seems easier to keep your child in school. WOW, we're like twins or something here. Thankfully, for Emperor at least, all the problems he had in school seemed to manifest as behaviour concerns. His academics are pretty stellar, so I find no need to hire the consultant and all that for him. Same idea for Elf, although Elf is a bit older and doing the same academics as other children of the same age. Not too far ahead in math, but not too far behind in English that I feel I need to "cover" myself there.

I have mixed feelings about HSLDA's recommendations. I think they want to be able to defend the cases and WIN the ones they take on, so I can hardly blame them for their suggestions in that respect. However, it does make homeschooling a special needs child who is mentally challenged or severely disabled less practical in application. It's almost as if HSLDA is asking you to document with credentialled specialists and side therapies the things that the school should (by law) be giving you for free anyway. And no, the "least restrictive environment" is not getting a couple speech worksheets with six other kids during your therapy time. I don't care if the therapist is licensed or not. Having a time period for licensed speech therapy in an IEP doesn't mean jack poo if they're doing the stuff six IEP kids in a room and give them worksheets for their therapy thing.

It bothers me that the schools are not really fully accountable to the courts for educational neglect in the same way that a parent would be. YES, parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children. It seems that special-needs kids get left in the ditch, though. The parents are not always good advocates. They don't always know what is available, and the schools are not always forthright. The laws are written in such a way that it seems parents must say the "magic code words" to unlock the ability for certain therapies to be given to a child. And hey, when Mom and Dad don't know how to ask, and the school doesn't give, the kid just goes through his education as best he can and the schools are never called to account.

Let Mom and Dad do the best job they can home-educating, though...

It is a little disconcerting. Especially when I read about special-ed law in places like Vermont. Talk about scary. They pretty much OWN your kid in the schools if he has a special need of any kind. No, you cannot completely leave the system with your child to home educate unless you leave the state. Good luck to ya. HSLDA has been losing battles in that state.

I am concerned about a national law regulating homeschooling because I'm sure states like Vermont would like to have a say-so about it. It seems to me that special-needs kids are easy to target because, "LOOOOK! The kid can't even read and he's nine!" or, "This homeschooler is SEVEN YEARS behind our state Show Me Standards!!" does draw outrage from the average citizen. Sigh.


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    TedCo Software

  2. I know how you feel. I'm really going through this right now. My boys are all of a sudden getting terrible grades. The teacher says they can't concentrate. What happen to my good boys that I used to homeschool? They are going to the office all the time. It's just really crazy. I don't know what to think anymore.


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