For the first three years of her education, I homeschooled her. I loved it, and she thrived, but she and her sister decided that they wanted to go to public school. I let them, but knowing what I know now, I wish I hadn't. It's not that the school was bad, it wasn't. They had terrific teachers who were dedicated and caring and all that you want a teacher to be, but Erudite Aspie's fellow students, not so much. No matter how much she wanted to fit in, she didn't, couldn't.
Homeschooling wasn't as easy then as it is now with the internet, but it was doable, and it sure would have saved her a lot of heartache. I realize that you can't totally erase heartache from your kids' lives, but still...you don't do it on purpose, right?
With all this in mind I was very interested in this recent post on Ree Drummond's outstanding site The Pioneer Woman. PW isn't solely about homeschooling or about Autism, but she is homeschooling her four children and has several guest posters who are also teaching their kids at home, always worth reading. Last month one of her guests asked a question for a correspondent, Mary: Should we take our high-functioning autistic son out of public school and homeschool him? The debate was spirited and hugely supportive, and today she posts Mary's decision: yes, we should.
I think so, too, Mary, and God bless you for doing so. I truly believe that your son, like my daughter, will thrive at home, and can learn the social skills he'll need for adulthood in a more supportive environment than a public school (or any school, for that matter). For kids on the Spectrum, being forced into social situations is not the way to learn those necessary skills, in fact, if anything it's more likely to turn them away from social situations entirely. Autistic kids need to learn those skills by rote because they don't get them instinctively, and forcing them to deal without that training is not only ineffective, but counterproductive--and hurtful.
As a public school teacher--high school science--I heartily support home schooling, whether your kid is on the Spectrum or not. I hope my future grandchildren are homeschooled, and if their parents can't do it, I'd be happy to take a few hours out of my retirement days for some quality time with my kids' kids. No better contribution to their futures, sez I.
Hindsight is always 20-20, and while I do wish I had known then what I know now, I'm grateful that my daughter turned out pretty well despite our ignorance. Do I wish I could have saved her all that frustration? Sure, but as we often say to each other, Now we know. Everyone has painful times growing up, most of us come through adolescence unscathed nevertheless. But for those of you who are still in the position to make that schooling choice, especially if your child is on the Spectrum, I recommend you give it due consideration. I doubt you'll regret it.