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How do you decide?

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    How do you decide?

    We have just identified my oldest (9yo ds) as having ASD and as we are in the period between diagnosis and further testing to see where his strengths and deficits lie. Homeschooling has never been easy for us, but this year we just flat gave up. Everything we try is "too much work" and "too much writing" and "I can't DO that!" and "I don't REMEMBER!!" Pre-diagnosis, I spent my days fighting this attitude (and often throwing up my hands in despair) because I KNOW how intelligent this kid is (very) and it's been painful to see him retract into a shell this way.

    My question is - I don't want to just forgo homeschooling until we have completed testing. We are on a waiting list and it could be July or later before we are seen. How do I decide what he can or cannot do without giving up entirely? He *hates* writing and *loves* being read to - should I just let the writing go for now? Or is that teaching him to play the victim card? (and yeah, I know how bad that sounds, but he IS still nine years old regardless of anything else and would love to get out of every second of work anyway) We love the Memoria Press materials because they give excellent information without being too visually distracting but the workbooks are causing meltdowns. Just read through the chapters and skip the written work? Encourage oral answers (sometimes those are "too hard" as well)

    Any suggestions on what to do to finish our year without years (mine) would be very helpful!
    Kori [mom to 9yo ds J, 7yo dd R, 5yo dd H, 4yo ds J and 9month ds G]

    I'm certain you'll get much in depth answers from some of the older hs moms but I know that many of the 'typical' kids also do their written work orally. So I don't think that'd be a catastrophe (the K-8 forums are full of discussions of this)

    Maybe slowing down and doing less of the work daily but still moving forward while waiting to understand would be helpful instead of either fully giving up or relentlessly pressing forward .

    Are there any areas/subjects that he likes or does well in? Maybe letting him excel at that while slowing down in the other areas will help him to not be a victim and to see progress.


      Originally posted by Kori Cowles Rotondi View Post
      We have just identified my oldest (9yo ds) as having ASD ... My question is - How do I decide what he can or cannot do without giving up entirely? Kori [mom to 9yo ds J, 7yo dd R, 5yo dd H, 4yo ds J and 9month ds G]
      Welcome, Kori.

      You ask a good question, because the key will be for you (not your son) to decide, so neither of you gives up entirely!

      We faced this same situation with my own son (also ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder) when he was about the same age as yours.

      We seemed to have three choices:
      1) quit (and enroll him somewhere)
      2) fall into a cemented tug-of-war with already emerging roles of Negotiator/Deal-Maker (mom) and Chief Complainer/Manipulator (son)
      3) modify the lessons, length of lessons, and required responses and consequences ahead of time -- based on Mom's determinations and not on the child's complaints

      You already know several things about your 9yo son:
      -He is intelligent.
      -Writing is frustrating for him.
      -He will attempt to do little to no work at all, given a choice.
      -He loves being read to.

      You may be facing some new frustrations:
      -His 7yo sister may begin surpassing him in either ability or work ethic, if she hasn't already.
      -Both you and your son may be falling into ineffective teacher/student patterns.
      -The family may be suffering as a whole, because of the frustrations.

      The good news is that this all may become easier within the next six months to a year. This semester may be the very hardest time of his homeschooling, because as you note, you find yourself with a diagnosis but little else. This is a difficult time! When you begin working with professionals who can assist with therapies (e.g., sensory issues), medications if needed, and other therapeutic strategies, you will not feel so intimated. And neither of you will feel quite so overwhelmed.

      For now, the key is for you to regain command, but with the new knowledge that your son cannot handle a "normal" workload. As you know, this does not mean he should have no work at all!

      Some tips that helped us:

      -Begin the day reading to him. This could be a Bible story if you include these in his days, a book of poetry, an ongoing read-aloud. Any of these will help set the tone for mom, son, and any of the younger children who might be listening.
      -Consider ending the school day reading to him too. All of this will "bookend" his school day in a different, more enjoyable way for both of you.

      In between the read-alouds, use CelticaDea's good suggestions.

      Another strategy that helped us:
      As capable mom/teacher, think of his workbook items (whether Latin, literature, history, etc.) in three categories: 1) Written answers, 2) Oral answers, 3) Discussion. Look over the workbook or study guide ahead of time. Quickly mark with his initial or checkmark the questions you know he can answer. Reserve the others with a star for discussion. You will do most of the talking, teaching, and explaining on the starred items, or you will omit them altogether for now. Then ...

      -Tell him ahead of time that he will be responsible for X answers on his own, and the rest will be discussion.
      -Require 1-3 written sentences in his answers each day. (Capital letter, endmark, subject/verb, nice penmanship). As soon as he writes one (or whatever number you pre-determine) good sentence, the rest of his responses may be oral. Adapt to his ability. If 1 sentence is too easy, require 3.

      A side note on writing --
      He does need to be writing every day, or his frustrations and inabilities with writing may worsen. If he writes every day, his writing may improve, especially when he realizes that his best efforts earn something (e.g., the privilege of oral responses for the remainder of the page).

      Is he writing in cursive? If not, consider switching. Handwriting expert and NAC creator Iris Hatfield offers many examples of children whose writing frustration eased when they transferred to cursive.

      A final tip that helped my son:
      At a quiet time apart from schooling, speak to him about "self-talk." If you have Watty Piper's classic The Little Engine That Could, read this. Tell him that with your new program, you have already modified for his ability. Tell him he is fully capable of doing the new workload. Therefore, he is not allowed to say, "I can't" or "I won't" during lessons any more. Instead, teach him to say to himself, "This looks hard, but I'm going to try my best."

      Know that you will not pre-assess all of the materials perfectly, so you will give him the option to speak with you at the end of each week to reassess. How did he do? How did he perceive the workload? Tell him ahead that you will have a conference (we called them "pow-wows"), and that he will have input. This lets him know he'll have a voice, but it will no longer be during the actual school day.

      For yourself:
      -Know that this is a uniquely challenging time. You're still in transition, so be patient with yourself too. Try to be calm and matter-of-fact, rather than reactive. You can "walk away" from any invitation to let things become emotionally charged.

      -As you give him a gentle routine, he may become less scared or worried or angry or frustrated, and his learning may gradually improve.

      -Enjoy family read-alouds. Your son's love of listening to books will be your own "secret weapon" in engaging him in learning on many topics and enjoying the beautiful language of good literature.

      -If too tired to read to him, consider occasional audio books. I needed to do this often, and my own son at 19 still loves audio books in his free time.

      -Know that July (or even a few months later) is not that far away in "special-education-evaluation" time. As you wait, you can observe to find your son's strengths and encourage those. Note the times he is most content, most thoughtful, most engaged in learning. Share these with the evaluation team, and the results of his assessment will be even stronger.

      Many blessings to your son and all of your children --


      Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

      Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith