Asperger Syndrome, or Autistic Spectrum disorder can sometimes be a daunting diagnosis for a parent, but a diagnosis of Aspergers can still allow for a productive life. A parent of an Asperger child can help him or her learn to cope, and reach his or her full potential.
Homeschooling by computer can sound like heaven to students miserable enough in regular school. As a successful teacher of Asperger students myself, I have seen these students become a very different people as soon as they are happy with their school situation.
A young person with Asperger syndrome from middle school to high school and up, can become very unhappy with school, mostly because of the social environment. If students are miserable in school, it may make sense to school them at home. To do this, one parent has to stay home to supervise the child’s education. This can be done in two ways. You can enroll them in an online school, and some states, like the state of Washington, sponsor an online school for just such people. If your child is more severe, you can set up your own curriculum, although some states require a specific curriculum. Curriculum requirements are some of the first rules mentioned in each states’ requirements for home schooling. Resources could be the public library, public school district, or even the local bookstore.
You can check on the internet for the laws governing home schooling in your state. Canada also allows home schooling, and they provide a resource for parents. In all states, it is required to notify your local school district, but the state of Maine requires you to notify the state board of education as well. The other requirement that is universal is that you are required to keep records. You can purchase a regular teacher’s record book at an office supply, or you can download forms off the internet. Ask.com has forms you can download. After those requirements are met, other requirements vary from state to state. For example, in California it is required to have at least three hours per day by a certified teacher, but Montana only requires that the parent have 45 college credits. Texas requires no proof of parental higher education. The state of Washington allows a home school student to attend public school part-time, and home school part time, while Maine requires home school to be full time.
The first step you can try is the online school. Sometimes this works with an Asperger’s student, However, sometimes an Asperger student has an aversion to computers. In this case, you can just use textbooks purchased online or from your school district.
You will need to stay at home with your child to set up a regular schooling schedule. Students with Asperger syndrome tend to thrive when they live by routines and schedules. In fact, routines will give your child comfort. A suggested schedule may be one hour at 10:00, one hour off, and continuing this rhythm until 5:00 PM. During downtime, you can allow your student to read, relax, or go outside. Computer games, however, should wait until the end of the “school day.”
If allowed to play computer games between sessions, it would be easy for a student to get carried away with the games and be reluctant to get back to schoolwork. After all, the virtual world is easier to cope with than the real world. It is better not to have this issue. With a little luck, and the blessing of time,your student will work on school work for longer periods. I have found that success creates contentment.
The amount of time required for school varies from state to state. For example, Montana requires 1080 hours for one year. California requires 175 days, and Texas allows one credit for 135 hours. You can see why record keeping is essential. Provision is made for graduation of high school, and some states don’t allow a state university to discriminate against a student who is home schooled.
After setting up the schedule and classes you will quickly discover which classes are the most troublesome. Check every now and then to see the student’s work and answers. Ask questions as if you don’t know the answer, but act interested – even if you aren’t. Your student may have a tendency to want to skip exercises and jump right to the section test, but this won’t work. It skips the “in between” learning. For most of these computer classes, the point is not just to get the answer, but to learn the process.
Math is the best example for the problem of students who want to skip work. Exercises start out simple, and gradually increase in difficulty. It is sometimes easier to just guess at the earlier answers until you get to the final unit test. Another problem with computer classes is that without close supervision, A student can simply go online to get the answer, and go on to the unit exam with little learning. It is even easier to cheat on a computer class than it is in a class full of students.
Learning math is much like climbing a ladder. Some people can easily climb a ladder by skipping every other rung, but most people need to climb one rung at a time. The same goes for any form of learning. It is imperative that a student must learn the process by following the steps. Gradually, the steps become natural, and by the time the student is into more advanced problems the student is comfortable with the steps.
You will want to have a textbook reference for each subject, as well as some general reference books. This will also help you, yourself, with the work because there will be examples that are similar but different. If your student gets lost or confused, a good textbook in the same subject will help both of you as you strive to figure out the problem.
One thing that many parents might not know is that the nearest public school has to supply you with current textbooks under the federal 504 law if your student has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. For students who are homeschooled without a diagnosis, most states will provide you with textbooks.
If your student gets into a section that is frustrating and difficult, find the same type of work in the textbook, and assign some exercises. Check the back of the book for the answers, and have the student do only the problems with corresponding answers. It is important that the student is required to show all steps in between that lead up to the answer. This requires a students to follow the steps, and be able to check answers. After ‘getting it’ the student can go back to the computer program. This works great in math, as well as other subjects.
It works well to have a student keep a spiral notebook for each subject, and be encouraged to write down notes. You can check the notebook each day, making sure notes are kept, complete with date of entry. Since it is likely that the student has difficulty with writing, you should insist on this step. It helps with organization, and the notebook can be used as a reference when the unit test comes up.
Daily entries in a notebook will give your student needed practice in written communication and penmanship. Allow your student to use print or cursive, based on preference. However, don’t allow a mixture of the two. Read an occasional entry out loud and question the entry.
Finally, set up a reward system that will motivate your student. It could be as simple as an hour off from class work, video game time, TV time – whatever will work, and is reasonable. Rewards could be given for successful completion of a unit; one week working without needing to be prodded; or an extra high score for a unit test. Help your student accept education, and be happy.