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
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