Saturday, July 24, 2004

Homeschooling Special Needs: How to Build Confidence

This week, I've had quite a response to the Facing the Homeschool Super Mom article.  I know how it is to try to live up to the ideal that you see in others and you just can't do it.

Anyway, I had many questions along similar lines that I'd like to address today. 

Dear Laura:       You have many readers I'm sure and I loved this message thank you for taking the time to write it.  I have a concern that maybe you and your readers can help me with My husband and I have three beautiful children our third child is 6 with Autisum he has been in school since he was 3 and we have started homeschooling all three children this summer we homeschooled our 14 yrs. since Jan. well when we went to register Lucas our son with Autisum they told us that we had to go thru a special M-Team meeting to do this it is bothering me because I have been homeschooling him all summer and I don't want to send him back to all the strangers what do we do is it something we need to be concerned about?  Is there other parents of special needs children that have gone thru this please help I'm worried about this I have been thru other M-team meetings and have been pushed to the point of even hiring a Lawyer to go with us. Thank you for all your help!  Tina.  P.S. I live in Tennessee
L.B.:  Tina, this would be an area of great concern for me too.  To start, go to my web page with Tennessee Home School Requirements:  http://www.homeschoolingrequirements.com/TN.htm so that you can get the general requirements.  My research indicates that registration is required but that there are no requirements on curriculum nor can the LEA require an inspection of home or curriculum.  A course of study must be presented for high school age.  Frequently, schools will assume authority they don't have.

Secondly, I'd get with some other homeschoolers in your situation.  This page has a few resources that I have found for homeschoolers of children with autism:  http://www.homeschoolingrequirements.com/National.htm#autism

Thirdly, I would contact the HSLDA at http://www.hslda.org as they will provide free legal help if your rights to homeschool are being violated and you are a true independent homeschooler (not with a charter or such).

Hi Laura,
I too have a 6 yr old son that has speech difficulties.  He's been tested by speech therapists and found to have no profound speech deficit (by their standards).  I even had one speech therapist work with him, but she couldn't figure out why he wasn't pronouncing his words properly.  He's been tested for his hearing too.  Everything comes out on the up and up...sooooo..my question to you is:  What are you doing to work with your son on his speech? 
When I make my son slow down his words, he does fine.  So..it makes me wonder whether he's just trying to say everything too fast, or is he being lazy with his pronunciations?  Anyway, any helpful insight would be greatly appreciated.  I also have a five year old boy that has no trouble whatsoever with his speech...clear as a bell.  Thanks for you time...I am enjoying your newsletters.  ~Rachel


L.B.  Hi Rachel, with my son's situation, he had physical therapy and speech therapy from the day he was born till about two.  It was in my home and it was fun for him.  His problem is that the muscles in his mouth weren't properly developed and so it was easier for him to say "free" instead of "three".  This is normal in learning to talk, but children normally make the transition to the "th" sound on their own.  With Ryan, it was very difficult. 

When he was an infant, we had a soft, plastic thingee - it kinds looks like those sticks you use to dip in a jar of honey - that I had different areas to place pressure, etc. to help build the muscles.  As he started to speak, we would practice sounds.  I stopped the services by the age of three for several reasons, but here are a few:
  1. I knew there was nothing mentally wrong with him, and no hearing problems such as your case.  He does have dyslexia, but his mental development has always been on track or above average - just his speech was behind.
  2. I did not want him to have a "sitgma" or have someone telling him that he was "lacking".  I knew that he'd eventually catch up, and I wanted to be sure that he did it confidently.
  3. Everything that they were doing with him I could easily do.

So, I made up my own way. 

We played a ring-around-the-rosey type game in the kitchen where we'd run around saying a sound.  He loved it. 

I DID NOT correct him all the time.  Once in a while after he'd say something, I'd say, "Hey, Ryan, let's practice a sound." 

When we started with the alphabet and learning to write each letter, we had to go a little slower.  Since he said "free" instead of "three", he also had problems identifying beginning sounds.  But with each letter sound that he was "off", I would show him the positions of my tongue - like the "th" sticks out a little like a lizard between closed teeth.   Whereas, the "f" sound has your top teeth touching your bottom lip. 

He was able then to mimic the sound with me whenever I asked him.  But he still made the incorrect sounds in normal speech, mostly from habit, I think.

I continued, and more frequently, would stop him in our private conversations - never out in public and never in front of others - show him the correct mouth position, and have him say it the right way.

He is 6 now, and yesterday we were counting in the car.  When he got to the thirty's, he said, "thirty-one, thirty-two..." etc. and all the way up till he said "forty."  They still weren't totally perfect; but that was the first time ever that he did all "th" sounds and then the "f" sound without help or reminding.  I immediately pointed out his accomplishment and he was all smiles.

This has always been an area of tender concern for me.   Our eldest and youngest both are very early, clear, advanced talkers.  I never wanted Ryan to feel "less" of anything because he's not.  He has the biggest, most tender heart of anyone I have ever met- so I be sure to let him know that he has that special gift that is something to treasure.

That's why making the cookbook was such a great experience for us all.  Cooking is on anyone's level.  Nathan was thrilled because he can read the easy instructions and follow the pictures and make something totally by himself.  Ryan was thrilled because the step by step layout and photos made it easy for him to do - and speech didn't matter (although I would make him repeat the instructions).  Maegan was just thrilled to dump something in and stir, which was also good for her motor development. 

So, hopefully this stuff will help.  It's always good to help your children improve and develop their skills.  But, in the grand scheme of things, it's not going to affect his character as an adult or his ability to make an income.  However, if he feels he has a "special need" or is "lacking" or is "behind", that feeling will never go away and WILL prevent him from reaching his full potential.

Sincerely,

Laura Bankston

P.S.  Cooking in a box is a great product to build confidence, have fun, and cover a variety of ages and skills.  For those who don't like to read or are struggling with it, this fun environment gives them reading experience and confidence that's invaluable.  For those that have difficulty with sequencing, the step-by-step photos (mostly just three to a page) makes sequencing a breeze.  And the page layout has none of the clutter that inhibits and distracts dyslexics.  Get yours now.

P.P.S. Stop correcting your child's deficiencies - instead, positively build their skills.  You'll get the same result: improvement - but you'll get the added benefit of a more successful and confident child who will KNOW he can do anything - because you let him.

Laura Bankston is author of Internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: “Homeschool Cooking in a Box” and the “Homeschool Cookbook”. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit http://www.homeschoolcookbook.com

Copyright 2004, Abundant Learning Publications. All Rights Reserved.

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