A child nearing school age brings additional stress for many parents, especially if your child is special needs child. Sending a child to school involves drastic momentous changes not only to their family life, but also to their child's life. A growing number of parents intent on minimising the need to alter the regimes they have built up over a long period of time to support and meet the needs of their child are instead choosing home-based education.
In fact parents of children with special needs are one of the fastest growing groups within the home education community here in Western Australia, especially those with children on the autism spectrum. We have constructed this page to assist parents in making an informed decision about home education and what it could mean for their family.
The reasons parents choose to home educate are as varied as the families themselves, however the most common reason for choosing home-based education for a child with special needs is that it enables parents to meet not only the intellectual and educational needs of their child, but also the emotional, physical and developmental needs in a supportive, loving environment; An environment that the child is already familiar with, and one that the child already feels safe and secure in which the parent knows how to navigate confidently .
This page is designed to help maximise the solution based approach many parents have adopted over the years of caring for a child with special needs. It is intended to provide you with as much information as possible during this transition through the use of:
- Case histories of families of children with special needs who home educate
- Links to articles on home education and the special needs child
- A list of service providers you can utilise as part of your home education program
- A list of great books on home education to read ahead of time
Ideally give yourself 12 to 18 months before you have to make a decision whether to home educate or send your child to school to investigate the different methodologies and read up on what home education can look like and to enable you to formulate your own educational philosophy.
In the meantime this is a dynamic page, meaning that we are constantly adding information as we become aware of resources and material. While we will endeavor to ensure that all information provided is current and that links are active, should you encounter a dead link or out of date information please email us using this link with details so that we can rectify the problem. If you have a question, use the contact page to contact a parent of a special needs child directly who will happily assist you with your questions.
"As the parents of a child with Aspergers we initially tried the traditional school system, however part way through grade one we knew school was not the best option for our child. We recognised that he needed a slower pace of life and the familiarity of routines if we were going to enable him to harness his energy to learn so many of the things our other children had done instinctively. Simple things like learning to laugh, receive or show affection, how to read emotion on another person's face or simply how to make eye contact with someone when you spoke to them.
Over the years we have been able to help him acquire the social currency he needed to function successfully in the "real world". Choosing home-based education enabled us to help our son go from being a child with no verbal skills, no understanding of emotion or his own needs, as well as a major inability to cope with changes to his routines or environment - to a young man who is not only capable of adapting to his surroundings with minimal assistance, but who also has a marked ability to interact with others and cope with the frustrations of life better than we do at times.
Choosing a home-based approach for our son also saved us a lot of frustration on both his part and ours, not to mention time and money. As his parents we had been there from the start and knew our child and what made him tick, we also knew that when we trusted our gut instincts we knew better than the 'experts' what he needed and so we were able to work with our child instead of going through specialists. Today our son is pretty much like any other 15 year old boy except he's home educated and loves it.
Being part of the home-based community has enabled us to meet other families with a child like ours, we have been able to share our experiences and information as well as providing opportunities for our child to form friendships with like minded people who understood his needs and were patient and non judgmental of both him and us.
We couldn't have asked for a better start for our child and as parents our lives have often seemed simpler than many of those of our friends who have "normal" children in the traditional school system."
Homeschooling the Challenging Child by Christine Field
I.E.P.'s Made Easy by Debbie Mills
Butterflies Don't Crawl By Angela and Suzie Tipton
Helping Children with Downs Syndrome Communicate Better by Libby Kumin, Ph.D
Assistance for Isolated Children's Allowance
- have school age students who live in an isolated area, or
- a school age child with a disability or special health need that cannot be met at a local state school
Research Articles on Home Education and the Special Needs Child
WA Support Networks and Organisations