soddymommy

Homeschooling Disabled Children

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soddymommy

Has anyone homeschooled a child that is severely disabled?  My son has CP, is nonverbal and nonambulatory, is closer to a one year old in development.  He has been in public preschool the last two years with an IEP and last night my DH and I decided we want to keep him home.  I have hated that he is such a seperate part of our famiy, I've felt that we have two different worlds going on and I'm looking forward to having him joining us.  I also have a two year old with some delays and I'm thinking I'll be able to do things with them together, like reading stories and playing in sensory bins.  I'm not sure how it's going to look for his "curriculum", I'm wating for someone to call me back and discuss what I need to report for him.  We are also applying for our states new voucher program this is starting this year, we will be able to use the funds for curriculum and therapy. 

 

Does anyone have any experience they can share?  Thanks.

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mindyloo1814

I hs my ds 13 who has intellectual disability. His cognitive development is around that of a 5yo. I really use a hodge podge of curriculum for him. I've had to dig and dig to find things that work and am constantly adjusting. As far finding out what you need to report, I advise you to look on hslda's website and not ask your school district. Your school district probably won't be a reliable source of information on homeschooling. I live in Texas where the laws are pretty loosely structured and I don't have to report anything, but not all states are that way. HSLDA is a good place to start.

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poodlemom

A couple of thoughts come to mind.  First, find out how TN requires you to report. When our dd was quite sick, about 10-years-ago, I chose to go with a licensed evaluator in our state.  We could do testing, portfolio, or evaluator.  And I put the word out on a homeschooling email list someone was running that I needed someone used to doing evaluations on kids with special needs. 

 

In talking with her (she was a licensed teacher which our state required, but her vocation was home school kids with special needs and NH has a very high percentage of home school kids in general), I was curious how you evaluate someone who couldn't talk or had significant developmental issues. 

 

She said the educational plan that she would expect to put in place would be the therapies he/she does.  She would help parents BEFORE they needed an end of year report to set up an appropriate plan.  The plan that might work for you (if allowed by your state) might be nothing more than you have the appropriate physical therapists or OTs or speech therapists coming in.  That type of work may be all your child can handle at the moment and may be all that they can ever handle, but it will show that you are doing something - whatever that something is.

 

In other cases where the disability is severe but a child is verbal (to a degree) may be learning sight safety words like Exit, Stop, how to ask for help, basic stuff like that, which might take years to actually teach.

 

Or HSLD may say that for your state, and with such a severe disability, you may not need to do anything.

 

I know that my evaluator would say to love him and include him in as much as possible.

 

Poodlemom

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OhElizabeth

Hi, I'm not in TN, so I think the first thing you need to do, like the other poster said, is find out TN's homeschooling laws.  HSLDA is going to be your best place to find that.  

 

Given the degree of disability, you'll want to think through carefully who pays for what.  For instance, I'm using our state's disability scholarship to pay to bring in tutors into our home.  It relieves stress on me, and it would be something to seriously consider.  It's a fresh face, fresh energy.  I would not use the scholarship/vouchers to pay for anything your insurance can be compelled to pay for.

 

The other question I would have, in your situation, is whether your ds would qualify for some kind of alternative placement or whether you could get the school to continue to pay for services rather than giving up your FAPE.  If the voucher requires you to give up your FAPE, it may or may not be a good deal, depending how effective (ineffective) the therapies were.

 

And this is a total aside, but PROMPT can work in cases of CP.  It's just something you could look into.

 

Your sentiment sounds very good here and your motivation on what you're hoping it will do for your family.  I think the main thing is to see if you can bring in some support so you don't get burnt out or overwhelmed.  Just because you're doing it at home doesn't mean you have to do it alone.  

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poodlemom

Wonderful post from "OhElizabeth!"  Don't give up financial benefits or therapies because once you do, you may never be able to get them back.

 

Always remember, you are in a marathon, not a sprint, a disabled child needs love and support but as a counselor told us, and I've since read in a number of places (and discussed with my dh and he agrees), the stress level is truly equal (over time) to combat stress.  He and I both had PTSD in relation to our dd's illness and behavior.  A fresh face and fresh energy is *going* to be needed, even if you don't quite see it right now.

 

Every situation is different but you might also want to look into getting a educational advocate for your child.  Not cheap - it costs us 2500.00 BUT she brought amazing knowledge of services we were entitled to, beyond the school setting, and for our child as she aged and reached adulthood.  We were able to sign her up for services, that we didn't know if she would need or not when she turned 21, BUT the catch was, if she wasn't signed up (in our state) by 16, we couldn't change our mind at that point.  So you can drop out of services you find you don't need or aren't ultimately helpful, BUT.... you can't drop IN.

 

I'm thinking, none of us can predict the future.  If you or your dh had a major health crisis as you age - 10 years from now - where would your child be?  Nothing equals the love of a family, but it is a fact we all age, get sick, die - sooner or later.  The worst thing for a disabled child or disabled adult is to go it alone as a family and not have services, and then have THE big emergency which might require an emergency respite placement or anything.  Stuff happens in life and we owe it to our most helpless family members to have a well thought out plan on how to approach their and your future.

 

Lots of stuff to think about, I know.

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soddymommy

Thank you all for taking the time to reply and give me some good things to think about.  At first there was an issue with the say something was worded on his IEP so we weren't sure if he would get into the program, but it got taken care of and now we're in!   We will be able to register with our regular umbrella school (Homelife Academy) and he won't need any testing because he wouldn't qualify for it at school.  As far as therapies go, he already gets private therapy because he doesn't get much at school so we will continue on with those.  I'm going to look into having a tutor come and see what that would look like.  Thankfully I have several friends and caregivers that know how to take care of all the kids and are a tremendous help to me and let me have a break.  I'm so looking forward to having him home with us.  If you think of anything else I need to consider, please to hesitate to share :)  I appreciate all of the help I find on here.

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