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Starting out Homeschooling

My son is three years old but I donít want to enroll him in public school. How can I start a homeschool program?

My Opinion:
I would start by purchasing the Behavioral Intervention Manual for Young Children with Autism, edited by Catherine Maurice. You can buy it from amazon.com for about $45. It has great information and curriculum schedules for autistic children.

Next, what I would recommend to start out with is that you visit a school supply store (look in your phone book) and buy a few materials that you think your son is ready to learn, in a format that your son seems to do well with. For example, my son in the beginning had so much trouble understanding that a picture in a book was a representation of the actual thing, I used very few books, but we have lots of hands-on actual objects. For example, I have cut-outs of shapes, with different colors, cut-out and plastic animals, etc, because he would have had almost no concept of learning them from a book. Once he knows the animal/shape/color/etc, then we try the book. I also have cut-out letters and numbers, of different colors, and we used them to learn colors but will eventually learn the letter/number. My son is also very physical. I taught him to count to three by throwing him on the couch. Pick him up, say "one" while pretending to throw him, say "two" and still pretend to throw him, then say "three" really drawn out and throw him on the couch! He will now come up to me, put up his arms, and say "one" with a hopeful smile on his face. We have since then moved up to counting to five before throwing him, then seven or eight, then ten. He learned body parts because I tickled the part I was teaching him! Articles of clothing--I tickled him as I was taking off/putting on the article. I named the foods he was eating while he was eating them. When he began echoing language, I made him say the words as I taught him what they meant. His older brother is also helping in this, not giving him the toy until he says what it is, etc. He would have no way of learning any of this from a worksheet. It also saves money. I would recommend that you not spend too much money on your supplies, because you might decide you don't like it, or you might find out your son needs a different approach than what you bought, or you might have lots of things already at home that you could use, like for example matchbox cars or wooden trains can be used for colors, counting, etc. Or whatever toys your son has that he might like, you can see how you can use them for learning. Your son might be a little more advanced than this, but you can probably come up with some things you can start with to see whether both you and he would like this approach.

If you like it and want to continue, you should contact the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They are a group of attorneys who will defend your right to homeschool, because public schools can get a little obnoxious, thinking only "trained professionals" would know how to teach your child. This is a Christian organization but will defend anyone's right to home school, no matter what your religion or lack thereof. They also have great lists of organizations, some specifically for special needs children, that they can provide you. This is great for meeting other people in your situation to trade ideas, and also you can get together with other parents who might have autistic and non-autistic kids, and teach your son socialization skills with other kids. It works better in smaller groups anyway, and in my experience public schools don't do a lot of actual "teaching" of socialization skills, which you can do better with only 1-2 other kids there. Their web site is www.hslda.org. If you call (number on website), they can give you good info over the phone too, and also they can send you an info package. It costs $100 per year if you join, which includes all legal advice and services you might need, and is excellent for the money.

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