Parenting/Teaching the Special Needs Child

Also posted on my other site: Homeschooling the Minds of Tomorrow

I have seven children, two of whom are autistic: my 14 year old and my 3.5 year old. My homeschooling journey actually began with my oldest and my lack of confidence in the public school system to meet his needs and protect him. I found that as a family, those needs and protection were better met. Of course we struggled, but I never regretted the choice of having him/them home. We all schooled together, through the good and bad and all the changes of life.

My greatest challenge is finding a math program and reading comprehension program that is not to overwhelming. He can read and understand quite well; it’s how he spends all his free time! But to extract that knowledge in written question and answer form is a struggle for him. So I have him do what he can math wise (we use Teaching Textbooks). He reads alone and we discuss what he’s read together, using the given questions as more of a guide for me rather than a worksheet for him.

My 3 year old is not necessarily school age yet, although he would qualify because of his autism for part time preschool, should I choose to place him. Regardless of how rigorous his schoolwork or learning time is, he does need something to keep him little mind active.

He is very sweet and also quite gentle with his 7 week old sister. But with other children, he wants to play and doesn’t know how. He pushes and hits in excitement and in what he believes is play. But it’s not and other kids are quickly turned off and don’t want him around. It breaks my heart to see this and to scold him when another child is hurt. He simply doesn’t understand. And because communication is at a very minimum, I cannot effectively tell him he’s not playing, but hurting.

Autistic children oftentimes seem stronger because they cannot gauge their own strength and lack control of how much force or ease they must use. For this child of mine, the best thing is to remove him completely from the other kids for a bit. He’s having fun but they are not. So until the adrenaline of my son and the frustration from the others wears off, separation is best. I hate doing this. But it’s also for everyone’s safety, unfortunately.

Another thing that helps is to have activities for him. He likes lining up number cards. God forbid, however, someone disrupts the line! He also likes books in a quiet, safe space. He enjoys letters the most. Being outside where he can run wild without injury to himself or others is vital. But sometimes a walk in the fresh air is all he needs. Adequate sleep, a proper nap schedule, use of essential oils, and avoidance of certain foods also help. And as much safe hands on activities as possible. Yes, this can all be very draining. But it’s what he needs now. And as his parent, I know this better than any teacher or therapist because it is I who am with him throughout all times of the day and different scenarios. I’m not perfect and I do lose patience, but I’m learning to take each day at a time.

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


17 responses to “Parenting/Teaching the Special Needs Child

  • Mark Brewer

    Very nice, especially the verse at the end – one which I often need reminding of.


  • pwbrewer

    Love your comments. Thanks for sharing what is such a wonderful and yet chaotic time for you. And, thank you for sharing the book, Boys Adrift. It has really helped me understand the malaise our society is in. Uncle Phil

  • carolineburchett2012

    Hi! My son is almost 3 and has autisn too. I have invested in a few essential oils. Do you mind sharing which ones you have and how you use them with your 3 year old? Also, which foods do you avoid for him? Thanks!

    • Laura

      Thank you for stopping by! I have a sister site, Homeschooling the Minds of Tomorrow and I have two separate posts for oils and foods. The link to the oils blog is: I think it will be easier for you to read the whole post. As for foods, I had to completely eliminate gluten and casein (The protein in all milk products) for my oldest son on the spectrum. But for my three year old, I saw more immediate results with gluten elimination alone. Also, he cannot handle sugar. It is my goal to get also get him completely off dairy. Right now he still drinks milk in a bottle, but that’s it for dairy.

    • Laura

      Forgot the link to the food post!
      Also, I can get you the DoTerra oil blends if you’re interested. If you want to make your own blends, I’ll list the oils in each blend. Bottles for blending oils can be purchased cheaply at most health food stores. They come in a variety of sizes.

      • carolineburchett2012

        Thank you so much! I’ve thought about putting my son on a gluten free and diary free diet but then I’d be eliminating everything he eats and he is VERY picky!
        I too have doterra oils and sometimes use lavender for calming and intune as well. I like to difuse lavender at bed time but I’m just not as consistent as I want to be.

      • Laura

        It can be hard with picky eaters but there are so many gf options now. Cereals, breads, pancake, muffin, banana bread, cake, cookie mixes. Pastas. And lots of nut milk options too.

      • carolineburchett2012

        Do you have a post on what a typical day of meals/snack look like for your dietary restricted kiddos?

      • Laura

        I don’t but I can tell you in a nutshell 🙂 I make them eggs Monday Tuesday Thursday and Saturday. Sunday we go to church so I don’t make breakfast. On Wednesday and Friday we don’t eat meat or dairy (even the dairy ones). I make them Bob’s gluten free oatmeal. For lunch we usually eat a lot of fruit and veggies, maybe a sandwich or tuna with gf bread. Smoothies, etc. For dinner I make gf spaghetti with grass fed beef and veggies, sometimes tacos with corn tortillas, chicken sauteed or baked with rice or a gf pasta. I cook VERY simply and with very few ingredients. For Wed and Fri I make scrambled tofu for lunch and fruits and veggies. Dinner usually wild caught shrimp with gf pasta. We don’t do snacks other than fruit or veggies.

      • Laura

        Happy to help! The adjustment seems hard and restrictive at first, but I promise it’s really not 🙂 toddlers are difficult when it comes to food regardless of dietary restrictions!

  • Heaven Sent and Bent

    I admire you! I should have home schooled my oldest with his ADHD but my youngest has CP and I couldn’t. Two with Autism? I crown you REMARKABLE!

  • Heaven Sent and Bent

    Laura, would you consider bing a guest on my radio show, “Heaven Sent and Bent”? You don’t have to leave your home,just skpe or call in! I would love to talk to you, call me at 503-869-6421

  • Heaven Sent and Bent

    woohoo! Can’t wait to talk to you!

  • sfarnell

    I understand how you feel on this. It’s hard work and the outside world doesn’t understand and is quick to judge. It’s heartbreaking to watch sometimes.

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