Thank you for asking me about homeschooling your special needs child. I hope that I can encourage you!
Our own special needs child is now an adult, and although our journey has been a long one, we know that every journey is long, and that some are simply different.
Since our special needs son is our oldest, we were doubly confused! We had no child to show us what "normal" looked like. But we knew that, after his one year in a public school early childhood program, bringing him home was the best--the only--option. We knew that no one else could give him what was most important: our love, our faith in Jesus, our heritage. Academics and life skills, though important, are secondary issues that would, with time, eventually be learned.
We began simply by loving our son. As much as he let us, we hugged him, sang to him, tickled him, told him we loved him, and that Jesus loved him. He was God's precious gift to us. We read to him, went for walks together, played at the park, dug in the dirt, and played together with his baby brothers.
We researched the thing--autism--that held him in its grip. We visited the library, searched the Internet, and asked questions. We became his experts and advocates. Though many times it was a struggle, we trusted the Lord for each step. The path was dark, but God was faithful to reveal just a few more steps ahead. The Lord then helped us take each of those steps.
As our son grew, we taught his younger brothers how best to love him. We involved them in his care and therapy, when possible. As his brothers matured, they became his best friends and his protectors. We also involved others--extended family, church members, and families in our homeschool support group. We taught them how best to help. And we asked for help when we needed it.
The academics came. Our son learned math, reading and writing, history and science. He graduated from our homeschool. But his crowning glory is that he serves the Lord today.
None of this came easily. We cried, prayed, even complained throughout the struggles. But, the Lord did not forsake us; He guided and carried us. He guides and carries us still. He will do the same for you.
With the love of Christ,
Fernando and Christine have been married since 1987. They began homeschooling in 1994 after pulling their son out of a public school early-childhood class. They have four sons, three of whom have graduated their homeschool. Joseph, their oldest, has autism.