Family Profile: Home Educating a Child with Special Needs

From time to time we will share stories about New Hampshire children whose lives are impacted by educational opportunities.

We recently asked home educating families to send us their stories – what makes homeschooling important to them and how it impacts their lives. Today’s profile is about a homeschooling family with a son who has special needs. The mom’s name is changed per her request, but the story is her own.

I have four children, all will be homeschooled. There are many, many reasons why this is the best choice for our family and this is just one of them. My almost seven-year-old has special needs. His diagnoses are many, a few being globally delayed and severe apraxia of speech. In a nutshell, he is developmentally (mentally, physically) behind. He didn’t walk until age two. Didn’t talk until almost age three. Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS, is a neurological brain disorder that makes speech difficult. For an unknown reason, the complex process of speech production simply does not work, resulting in speech that is very difficult to understand.  My son is a joy, happy and social.  He is loving, helpful and kind. We took him for an evaluation at UNH by a team of professionals and were not surprised at the results: my son is thriving.  “How can this be?” they asked. “Tell us what you are doing” they asked. “We have never met a child with these challenges who is so happy.” they said.  My response: “He is homeschooled.”  They see kids like my son all the time but they are “frustrated, kicking and screaming.”  The meeting became an opportunity for me to educate these professionals about homeschooling, as they had never met a homeschool family before.

If my son was in a brick school, he would be failing at everything, constantly.  His education would be defined by what he cannot do.  Homeschooling offers the opposite of this.  I am able to tailor his learning to his interests, strengths and encourage him in his weaknesses. I am able to let him make choices for himself that he would otherwise not be able to make.  I cannot stress enough that my child would not be the joy-filled child that he is today had we not decided to homeschool. He’d be isolated, unable to communicate in a world that does not understand him. He’d have no voice.  At home, we all speak his language. My other children actually understand him better than I do sometimes!  He is able to self-regulate and gain confidence by making choices like wearing a helmet all day, or changing his socks five times. He is able to socialize constantly in environments and with people of our choosing. If he is interested in something we can explore it. He has no reason to be “frustrated, kicking and screaming” because in our homeschool, Best Life Ever Homeschool, he is able to be himself and be accepted lovingly.

I believe that this choice is my right as a parent. It is us, the parents, who have the power to decide the terms of educating our children. WE, not the government, know what is best for our kids. That being said, I am very pleased to support leaders in NH who believe in the rights of parents and support school choice.