There is a special bunch of children in the American homeschooling population. They are gifted and interested but have some distinctive quirks. When you understand these kids, they can be wonderful to educate.
Homeschooling Children with Asperger Syndrome
Here are some things to know about children with Asperger Syndrome:
– They have problems with nonverbal interactions.
They may not make eye contact and their other nonverbal communication is awkward (gestures, posture, and/or facial expressions seem off).
– They have difficulty developing age-appropriate friendships.
They tend to miss social cues from others. They often feel uncomfortable around children their age.
– They are not good at social reciprocity.
They do not do well with the give and take of conversation. They will often either remain silent or talk ceaselessly, not listening or giving others a chance to talk.
– They often have an encompassing interest in one particular topic that is abnormal in intensity or focus.
They get stuck on one thing and have trouble shifting gears. It may be an interest that takes up all their spare time, or can be an addiction- like endlessly playing computer games.
– They are often rigid in routines and have rituals they perform daily.
They are inflexible in these things and get very upset or stubborn if interrupted.
– They often have motor clumsiness.
The agility needed to climb, run kicking a ball, peddle a bicycle, or open a jar may be missing.
– They may have problems with recognizing their own moods.
They may become angry quickly, may become irritable or contrary, may have depressed mood or anxiety- but be completely unaware.
– These symptoms cause significant impairment in settings outside the home and often inside the home.
What can you do to help?
If your child has some of these symptoms, here’s the major thought you can think: “I will help my child strengthen his gifts and redeem his weaknesses.”
Specifically, here are some tips:
1- Help him explore his interests
-unless they are unwholesome- 4 hours a day on the computer doing anything is not a good idea for a child.
2- Help her find her gifts
All children have God-given gifts. A child with Aspergers Syndrome will feel better about herself if she knows the things God has instilled in her.
2- Expose him to as many new things as possible
Go on field trips, read books together, play board games
3- Teach her social skills and etiquette
Practice etiquette, conversation, watching social cues together. This should be a daily part of homeschooling curriculum.
4- Keep firm yet loving parenting boundaries
Don’t let your child’s temper tantrums, arguments or anxieties force you to bend or ignore family rules. A good book for parenting these kids is One, Two, Three- Magic for Christian Parents by Thomas Phelan PhD.
5- Help church and youth group leaders understand your child
Explain Aspergers, help them feel comfortable with support and boundary setting for your child.
6- Explore curriculum until you find good fits
This is important for all kids, but it may be more difficult for a child with Asperger Syndrome. (You might have to give up on your beloved sentence diagramming and concentrate on more basic grammar.) What you want is the balance of good education and low frustration levels.
7- Get counseling and medication if needed (for you or your child)
Sometimes in my counseling office, I work with the mother of an Aspergers child because she gets tired, discouraged, and anxious from working so hard with her special homeschooler. Sometimes I work with the child to learn self-awareness and social skills. Sometimes these precious kids need medication for sleeping or anxiety management.
8- Get support for you and your child
One of my favorite internet resources is Parenting Aspergers Community. In the Delaware area, there is the Autism Delaware– a terrific group!
9- Pray a lot
God doesn’t make mistakes. When He gives us special kids, He is doing so within His plan. Pray for your child to know God and God’s plan for him.
What are some ways you invest in your child with Asperger’s Syndrome?
Read more about Autism, Asperger’s, and Homeschooling
Homeschooling Children with Asperger Syndrome
9 Replies to “Homeschooling Children with Asperger Syndrome”
I’m in Florida and desperately trying to find something that fits my 14 year old son because he was bullied so bad in school. Can you help? Sharon Atteridge
I’m so sorry to hear about your son being bullied. While I can’t give you advice as a counselor, I can point you to some excellent resources. First, Candace at Bullied, Broken, Redeemed has wonderful resources to help: https://www.bulliedbrokenredeemed.com/
Also, your son might benefit from some healing therapy. You can check the counselors listed at American Association of Christian Counselors to see who is near you: https://connect.aacc.net/?search_type=distance
The US Government also has some resources: https://www.stopbullying.gov/
The FPEA homeschool group in Florida might know some additional resources. Here’s their podcast: https://ultimateradioshow.com/fpea-connects/
Lastly, here are a few posts that might help:
Hope something here helps. Praying for him and you. If you feel like it, let us know what you find for him.
Another book you might consider is Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close. This is a fictional account of a boy in the aftermath of 9/11. The protagonist may have Aspergers, but I don’t think it is particularly mentioned. This was a strange book to me (I was very uncomfortable reading it at first, unsure what I was supposed to be taking away from it.), but I trusted my friend who recommended it. And she was right. I love this book!
Also, I have had the pleasure/challenge of teaching students with Aspergers. My first experience was with a kindergarten-aged homeschooled student in a science class in a co-op (Oh Friday School, you were so wonderful!). I did not have any advance info on this student, so I was a bit taken aback with his discomfort with eye contact, and his desire to sit under the table. But being a flexible kind of gal, I just went with it. On the surface, he seemed to be in his own world, not paying attention. BUT WHEN I PAID ATTENTION, I realized that he loved science, always brought some sort of show and tell, and when allowed to find a comfortable spot (e.g. under the table) was right on task and could participate verbally. After that realization, I was careful to engage him in a way that would allow him to demonstrate his knowledge and skills without setting off his stress meter. I think the other students and I really learned alot about compassion and patience and the joy of learning.
My experience with a seventh grade student was a bit more eventful and difficult to manage, but we worked it out.
Different is good. If we were all the same, this world would be so boring!
You are so right, Maureen. Different is good- and homeschooling is a good place for “different” kids to grow safely.
Drama classes and camps I’ve directed have included students who respond to the world in this way, and I’ve also had voice students with Asperger’s who sang with me in lessons weekly. I was COMPLETELY intimidated by these students when I first encountered them in my casts or at my piano! Ignorance was no good; I needed to be coached in how to relate to these special kids.
The approachability of the parents is so important. Children with Asperger’s really benefit from the variety of opportunities that things like clubs, plays, and fine arts can provide, but it’s important to communicate about your child’s way of relating to the world in a friendly, open way with the leaders or teachers you are bringing into the mix.
I had one student whose mom was completely unable to talk about her daughter’s Asperger’s when I gently asked if she could help me understand how to set good boundaries that her daughter could understand (the girl was touching me in inappropriate ways during voice lessons, and didn’t seem to understand when I shied away). It was so frustrating to me to encounter no help from the mom when I just wanted to learn a better way to encourage and teach her daughter.
Getting support you need (mom) from others may help you GIVE the support your child’s other teachers, coaches, directors, etc. will require in order to minister lovingly to a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Communication is so important! Thanks, Sabrina.
This is so true. I am the mom of an Aspie kid, and also a theater instructor in our local fine arts association. I can testify that the arts does wonders for these children and touches them and expands their horizons in ways we would never have dreamed! It is extremely important to communicate with all the adults in their lives – they want to help! Asperger’s is not something to ignore and hope it goes away! My son’s instructors and music therapist and youth leaders have all been extremely helpful and grateful for my input. He has blossomed because of the involvement of so many in our community, Christian and non-Christian alike. God has been so gracious in providing so much support. But it took careful communication on my part to get the ball rolling. God bless you for your endeavors!
Thanks, Marilyn, those are great resources.
The Curious Incident… novel is one of the favorites of my clients with Aspergers and their families.
I highly recommend all those on Marilyn’s list. Good books, all.
Because I work with students who have Asperger’s Syndrome in my various teaching roles (Mount Sophia and Elijah School) I have done some reading on the subject. There are several books written by children or adults with Asperger’s Syndrome that can help you get a glimpse into the way their minds work. Freeks, Geeks, and Asperger’s Syndrome is written by Luke Jackson, a young man who has Asperger’s. The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships is co-authored by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron. They have totally different ways of relating to others, even though they both have Asperger’s. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time features a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome as the main character. All these books help you to understand the differences in the way people think and the struggles this can cause when most of those around you think differently.