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For those of you who home school your child with autism how do you structure your day/school day?

We are failing getting work done. My dd fights every second.of every day?
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by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Replies (11-17):
by Julia on Mar. 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM
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Maybe sit down and chat with her and listen to what she wants for her schooling? My oldest, never diagnosed is suspect may have a bit of sensory processing disorder. He loves structure, but lettinf him have choices arw also important, and some kids are opposite and need to when they feel like it. You may have to be a bit unconventional, no worksheets, but perhaps unschoolinf will work. Have a talk about how she wants to approach school, what is her thought process. I know a mom with two.boys, grown now, who were unschooled. One, built his as a young teen, and the other loved theatre production and went ti a well known college in hollywood at the age of 16, because he was determined to pursue production and the arts!
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by on Mar. 9, 2013 at 6:56 PM
What type of videos do you use? Type of work?

Quoting Rust.n.Gears:

Does this type of learning work best for her? Can you try a different method for a week? I did great with books but one of my kids does books and videos. She retains more with her videos.

Quoting LongBeachLiz:

We give her a list. Each book and what pages need to be done (each page number is listed so she can x it out) plus work packet that's fun. She get mon-friday to do it. She waits until wed or Thursday and screams at us it's too much and she can't do it. When she sits down and actually does it she flies through it!! She is lazy (and I'm not just talking about school work. Just a general life thing).

I thought maybe with more structure we could have less fighting?

She lost going to the aquarium tomorrow bc she refused to do her work :( it sucks!

Quoting Rust.n.Gears:

Well how about from a students point of view.

I was homeschooled for a while and I have autism.

My mom tried doing structure but I wouldn't go for it. I wanted it my way. She ended up putting the books on the table with a check list. I liked lists. I would cross off each thing I got done. I loved that. I soon picked my own books, subjects, trips, etc. I have to have control. I have to have goals for the day / week / month / year. I did amazingly well.

My son is four and autistic. I will give him what he needs in his schooling. Right now he learns best through videos. Yeah its horrible to some. But he speaks three languages, can read, knows so much, and inspires me each day. He also choses a lot on his own even now.

The biggest thing is for both of us: don't limit us. Too much structure stops us from learning. When I was doing it on my own I did so much more. Unbelievably more. So does Patrick.

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by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 12:17 AM
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These are  some things that have worked with my son who has Aspergers and likes to do things his way, and is quick to get into power struggles (some of the older posts say ADHD because that was written before we got the right diagnosis!):

excerpt (more at the link)

One thing that we have found works well for us is the Workboxes system.

While I try and make the kids assignments not to "schooly" and avoid worksheets and generally boring busy work, there still needs to be a way to get through the curriculum. The Workboxes help with this. I find that it does several things that are particularly helpful for a child with ADHD:
  • It helps with organization.
  • It is visual and tactile. He can see how much work (how many boxes) need to get done. He physically moves the tag off the box and onto the chart when he is finished with it.
  • It is self rewarding in that he can see the number of tags increase on his chart and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • It is not so overwhelming to have one task in a box. It doles things out in small enough chunks for him.
  • It takes away me being the one telling him to do each assignment. Instead he just takes a box off the shelf. I find this leads to fewer power struggles.
  • It gives him a sense of control. I allow him to choose which box to do next, he doesn't need to do them in any specific order.
  • It helps me to insert more fun stuff and games. When I put the game in the box the night before I'm not overwhelmed and ready to quit for the day! Before, by the time I got through math, writing, science, etc. I was too tired to say "Let's play Scrabble!" But when it is on one of the boxes it is different.
  • It promotes independence. He chooses a box and starts working on it on his own (unless it is a "MOM" box, then he brings it to me for us to do together).
With my first child, I just had to tell him how the system works, once. With my second child it took a bit more work. The first week with the workboxes there were boxes and tags and supplies EVERYWHERE! It took some time, and lots of one on one to teach him to take down one box, finish it, move the tag, put it away, then take the next box. I think just learning a routine like that is valuable in itself.

This is what it looks like:
I was able to use some shelves that we already had for the workboxes. Each child has 12 boxes, and I usually "fill" 9-12 boxes each day. At first I thought, how will I ever fill 12 boxes, that is WAY too much! When I started doing it I quickly realized that it wasn't too much, because many of the boxes have short activities. Plus, I needed lots of boxes so that I could add lots of "fun" stuff. My kids love the Active Activity Cards. I downloaded those and made more of my own.

I was amazed at first to find that if I put it into a Workbox, they just did it. It was that easy.

When they finish a box, they pull off the tag and and place it on their chart.

Workboxes and Power Struggles

I've blogged in the past about how workboxes work for us, and have several posts aboutworkboxes. I have found yet another way to use them. One of my favorite things about workboxes is how using them significantly decreases power struggles. The, "I don't want to do it" is all but gone.

Scootch has Aspergers/ADHD. He is so smart, and learns so quickly, but some things are really hard for him. Writing is at the top of the "hard" list. Right around the time we started homeschooling he was struggling with anxiety. He easily became frustrated to the point of a complete melt down. He'd rather cut off his right arm than do a worksheet. As a result, I really backed off on forcing him to do work that involved putting pencil to paper. That was fine for a few years. Now he is almost 11 and in the 6th grade. He has also made huge progress in regulating his emotions and behavior. I decided it was time to give him a bit of a push. I was starting to feel like some of the accommodations we had put in place to help were starting to enable and actually hold him back. I knew I was signing myself up for a power struggle with the veritable gold medal winner of power struggles. I realized  it would be faced with resistance and intense reactions, but I was ready.

I got the intense reactions alright! There were times when he would throw a fit over writing down a math problem (he would beg me to write it for him-let the power struggle begin). I usually work hard to avoid power struggles in the first place and now I had set things up so that it would happen. I told him that the fit was unacceptable, but he needed more inspiration than a few words from me to stop, and I knew he had it in him to stop. That is when a parent goes for the holy grail: What is important to him? What does he want?

There is one thing he wants: free computer time. We already had a system in place where the kids need to finish their school work (workboxes) and their chores (clean up room etc.) before they can have free computer time. This system takes away a lot of stress and nagging on my part. No power struggles. I don't need to tell them to clean their room, I hear one call to the other, "Let's go clean our room!". With workboxes they can take as long as they like to finish their school work. They can choose to peck away at it bit by bit, and take all day, or they can sit down and finish it all before lunch. No power struggles of me telling them to do an assignment, they get to choose when they do it. They just can't go on the computer until it is finished.

However, now we were dealing with those fits. How could I re-order the system to prevent the power struggles? At first I changed it to "finish school nicely" to get the computer time, but that was a bit vague. We needed to break it down into smaller chunks. What if he did great on all workboxes but one? That is when I decided to put a time token on each workbox. Instead of earning a flat 2 hours of computer time when work was finished, now he earned time for each workbox completed "nicely".

I don't always give the kids the same number of workboxes. They may get as few as 4 or as many as 8 on a given day. I made up a bunch of tokens (laminated them and put velcro dots on the back) with a variety of times on them, 15, 20, 30 minutes. I put them on the workboxes so that they total 2 hours each day. If he finishes the workbox with a good attitude, then he get the token. If he is not working appropriately, then I can take the token.

We spent a lot of time talking about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. A good attitude can include saying that you don't like something, or don't want to do it. I'm even willing to negotiate and will sometimes change an assignment if it is discussed in a calm manner. It is inappropriate, however, to throw the chair over, or crumple up the paper, or scream.

A sample of workboxes with time tokens

We also reviewed ways that he can calm himself down. He has a variety of things that he knows he can do when he is starting to feel stressed, and he knows he has permission to do those things whenever he needs to.

Holding his snake is very calming. We often do lessons with help from the snake.

I really hate using a token economy, it is not the style of parenting I would choose. I must say though that it is working beautifully. It was over a week before he lost a token. He was so upset by it that he has been working really hard to stay calm, and do what he needs to do.

I am now having fun watching him learn and grow! A month ago we could not get through a math lesson without multiple break downs. Now, he does his math, writes out all of his problems like it is no big deal. Success!


Get Creative!

(F)unschooling: Boxing up some learning fun!

by Bronze Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 7:25 AM
Quoting Rust.n.Gears:Well how about from a students point of view.

I was homeschooled for a while and I have autism.

My mom tried doing structure but I wouldn't go for it. I wanted it my way. She ended up putting the books on the table with a check list. I liked lists. I would cross off each thing I got done. I loved that. I soon picked my own books, subjects, trips, etc. I have to have control. I have to have goals for the day / week / month / year. I did amazingly well.

My son is four and autistic. I will give him what he needs in his schooling. Right now he learns best through videos. Yeah its horrible to some. But he speaks three languages, can read, knows so much, and inspires me each day. He also choses a lot on his own even now.

The biggest thing is for both of us: don't limit us. Too much structure stops us from learning. When I was doing it on my own I did so much more. Unbelievably more. So does Patrick.

I love this advice and I think it can work for most gifted/spectrum/alternative learners. My ASD toddler has to lead his learning because he will not follow. Even as we work on his speech and OT, he has to have some sort of recognition of a goal met at each step, so that he can cross off that task in his own mind and feel good about going onto the next as he sees fit. Some days, we can get a lot done, but sometimes, he plays cars and ignores me. I don't plead with him. I don't explain consequences repeatedly. He knows that our Speech consultant will have to come in and do his therapy for him if he won't cooperate with me, and he doesn't like that, so he eventually gets his hiney in gear. He has to maintain his level of comfortable control without having the power. KWIM? I realize he's a toddler and you're dealing with an older child, but many of the frustrations and "rules" might be the the same here. Oh, and one thing we don't allow is lazybones. If he won't do his work, he has to find something else active or creative to do, or he gets a spray bottle and a dishcloth to do some sliding-door washing.
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 7:48 AM
There is a blog writer on autism who homeschooled her son for years.. She has a lot if ideas.. Google Lisa Jo Rudy.
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:34 AM
1 mom liked this

My eldest is on the spectrum. He's now 11 y/o. We've always HS'ed. You can read exactly what we do on my blog (addy is in my siggy. 

Defining Our Homeschool

I've gotten a lot of questions about our style of homeschool lately. People asking questions about everything from my teaching style, the kids' learning styles, curriculum choices, scheduling, etc. I've evolved over the last decade since we started this adventure. I've learned to let go of my death grip on the reigns. I'm one of those super anal, type A personalities. I like to have everything detailed and written out. I like to have pretty schedules and expectations. But after a time of banging my head against the wall - where I kept trying to fit these expectations and they didn't work, I had to ask myself, WHY? What was the point of the details, schedules, worksheets, etc. What did i REALLY want out of homeschool?

Why were we doing it? I had a miserable experience in public school growing up. I felt like an idiot, a feeling reinforced by my teachers. I was told I would never 'get it' or 'use it' so I should just give up. I finally dropped out of high school my junior year. I did a home study course to complete the credits needed for my diploma then signed up for a community college - because it was kinda expected. I became gravely ill my first semester of college. I spent the next two years in and out of the hospital. This was long before online learning, but I got special dispensation from the dean to allow me to continue my classes even though I couldn't always make it to the actual lectures. After 2 years I had earned my associates degree. Learning was fun and a distraction from my illness, so I transferred to a 4 year university. While transferring I had a councilor ask me what I wanted to major in. After reviewing my transcripts she recommended math or science. I explained that I wasn't smart enough for that. She looked like I was crazy and pointed out that I had taken every math & science class offered at my previous college and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I finally realized that by taking the classroom and teacher out of the equation, I was able to learn in the manner I needed. So when my kids were born, I didn't want them to grow up thinking they were stupid just because they might not learn from a classroom setting. So that was the main reason for HS. My other reason was peer pressure and self esteem. I wanted my kids to have developed a solid sense of self and high self-esteem BEFORE being faced with peer pressure. That way they would be strong enough to not get caught doing something stupid or harmful. 

With these are my reasons for HS I realized none of it was being supplied by my crazy schedule/curriculums. I didn't care if they could spout a million memorized facts w/ little to no understanding of what they were spouting. I wanted my kids to LEARN HOW TO LEARN - this means understanding how their minds work, how to absorb and translate information, and (most importantly) where to look for information. So I started following a more child led style. We do a formal co-operative once per week. So we do 1x/week of formal schooling. That is the day we introduce new materials, break open the books, do lapbooks, etc. During the rest of the week we have no tv/video games between the hours of 10am and 3pm. During this time the kids are encouraged to learn. Whether using computer programs, the Ipad, books, etc. 

You see, I TALK with my kids. I try to determine what they are interested in learning - dinosaurs, computer programming, etc. Then I find a ton of resources from a ton of different styles. The kids are then free to choose what they wish to use. Using this technique has turned my kids from reluctant learners to excited and engaged learners! They watch documentaries, they build thing, they do experiments, they write stories and have even learned how to program their own video games. If in order to build the best catapult they realize they need to understand logarithms then they learn how to do them! Much of what they do is college level things. We don't have spelling lists, nor do we chant multiplication facts. But through practical application they have learned to do both! 

So we are child-led eclectic homeschoolers - and proud of it!!

Curriculum - 

When it comes to exactly what that means....hmmm. Well I love technology. With my oldest being on the Autism spectrum, he's a visual learner. He gets high levels of anxiety with lots of worksheets and handwriting. So I had to throw out my ideal way of learning. I found my favorite websites and incorporated technology - which inspires him. We have 4 parts of school/curriculum - Ipad Apps, Computer Programs, Documentaries/Podcasts, Co-operatives & Writing. 

Ipad Apps - 
I love our Ipad. It has completely revolutionized our school. New Apps come out almost weekly, and most are free or else less than $5. This is really the bulk of our school. There are 2 parts we use - 
Itunes Apps - these are regular independent apps put together by individuals or companies. Some of our favorites are the following - 
Khan Academy - these are short video clips on math. It introduces new ideas and concepts.
Splash Math - This comes in different grade levels. It seems like a video game, but it doesn't introduce concepts so we use it in conjunction with Khan.
Minds of Math - This is a history of Math which is fun.
Sciences -- Painless Earth Science, Side Stax, Circuits, Science Fun To Go, TED (great podcasts)
Brain Pop - this is a fun program that changes daily, so it has themes of the day from history to geography all different subjects.
Rock Prodigy - this is an awesome app for learning to play guitar. You plug in your ear buds and the ipad picks up on the sound of you playing so it can tell if you are doing it right!! My youngest loves hearing himself play. 
Irish Fiddle - my oldest is using this to learn to play the Violin
Move The Turtle - This is an intro to Robotics/Computer programming. There is a turtle on the screen and the student learns to program the turtle to follow different commands.
Freefall Spelling
Language Arts - Itooch English, Toon Tastic (this is a story board app), Painless Grammar.
Tap Typing 
Barefoot Atlas - this is an amazing interactive world atlas with locations, tourist spots in a 3-d map, and the student can tap on anything and it will give an interactive lesson on it. 
Itunes U - This is an app that has access from many different universities and school districts. You can sign up for an independent e-class. FREE! Or you can order textbooks (which are not Right now my oldest's favorite eclass is ALICE which is a computer programming interface designed by Columbia University. You take the free eclass, and download the Free program on the computer and voila, you can learn programming! My son just finished programming his first video game - of a biplane racing a star ship on Mars!

Computer Programs - we use these to mix things up a bit. Not often, but we only have one Ipad, so while one child is on the ipad the other can use the computer. Programs like MEP (when they were younger we loved

Documentaries/Podcasts - (ie. Netflix) This is worth it's weight in gold, IMO. Especially w/ my visual learner. We watch documentaries on geography, history, science, etc. Then the kids often set out to make models or experiments on what they learned. 

Co-operatives - we do co-operative school once or twice a week for 12 weeks (2 semesters a year). Our co-ops are pretty serious endeavors. There are some fun classes like theatre and dancing, but we also have serious classes like Latin, Writing, Science, etc. We LOVE Co-op!!

Writing - I could never get my kids to cooperate with penmanship worksheets. It was torture. So we started journaling and writing stories. They would do different editions while we would helpfully critique their work. This helped work spelling, grammar and penmanship. 


We often shock people with our schedule, or seeming lack of one. I used to design very detailed curriculums and we would do everything on them, but it was boring and torturous for all involved. My kids would read my anxiety as I panicked to try and get everything in. Ugh! So now we do a much more relaxed schedule, and the kids are flying through the work! 

Since we do co-op once/week, I keep it to a once/week learning day. When we are not doing co-op then I'll use Tuesdays (co-op day) to introduce new information, work on a project, etc. This is a day where I'll actually teach lessons. The rest of the week (7 days a week) there is no tv or video games between the hours of 10 and 3 unless it's a program for educational purposes. During this time the kids are encouraged to learn - on their own mostly unless they ask for help/input. You see I talk with my kids a lot, finding out what they are interested in learning, Then I find a ton of resources - books, computer programs, experiment kits, etc. Then during these quiet periods each day the kids tend to grab at these resources and set out learning. Because it is based on what they were interested in, they are eager to delve in. With little to no encouragement from me, they LOVE to learn. 

 One thing this has made me realize? When I was in school the fun was extracted from learning - especially with all the repetition and busy work. Plus they have to stick to a specific curriculum, so kids are not encouraged to explore and learn anything they want. See, I would have thought that w/o the strict schedule kids would just not learn anything, but the opposite is true because my kids think learning is FUN! 

We school year round. So that we can take a day or two off whenever the mood strikes us. 

So that's us in a nutshell. Hope that cleared up all your questions! 

 Home Educators Toolbox  / Articles / Kicbuttmama's Crazy Lapbooks / Kickbuttmama's Home Education
Albert Einstein -- 
   "Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid." 

by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Thank you everyone for all the advice! I really appreciate it and has given me a lot.of insight and ideas!
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