Helping Parents Find Answers
With one child graduated and six still at home, ranging in age from 6 to 18, Linda Call knows a thing or two about homeschooling. “We’ve really enjoyed homeschooling and it has been great for our family,” she says.
But when her youngest, Brycten, began showing signs of autism, she began to question whether she could manage the new challenges her family faced.
One of the biggest challenges, Call says, has simply been finding people who can offer guidance and sound advice. The first doctor who saw Brycten didn’t diagnose autism, but Call inquired further and took her son to a specialist. The specialist confirmed that Brycten did have autism, but couldn’t give any advice or ideas on how to proceed with his education.
Brycten doesn’t have many of the physical or behavioral problems often associated with autism, Call explains, but his language and communication skills are very limited. Rather than saying whole sentences, he will point and say one or two words to indicate what he wants. “There are very few words he can speak. We can go over and over and over trying to teach him one word,” his mother says.
A local special education preschool program helped him last year, but now that Brycten has outgrown it, Call is trying to decide what to do next, while continuing to homeschool her five other children. The family is researching computer programs to help him communicate and solve problems.
The Calls are just one of many families assisted by Home School Foundation grants. Over the last two years, HSF gave out over 150 grants through the Special Needs Children’s Fund to help HSLDA member families home educating children with disabilities or special learning needs to obtain specialized equipment, therapies, or curriculum.
The Foundation encourages families to become members of Home School Legal Defense Association, where they can receive free personalized advice from HSLDA’s three special needs/struggling learner consultants.
Call says that good things have come of her family’s journey with Brycten already. Having a child with special needs has made a profound impact on the whole family. Her kids are learning about kindness and sensitivity towards others.
“They’re learning a compassion that you can’t teach,” she says, and that’s a lesson she “wouldn’t trade, even for how frustrating and hard it can be sometimes.”
Homeschooling gives families opportunities to uniquely love and care for their children with special needs. In the words of HSLDA’s special needs/struggling learner consultant Faith Berens, “Parents have the privilege and freedom through home education to help their children reach their full God-given potential—and I truly believe they can do that.”
For a wide variety of helpful resources and support for teaching children with special needs, visit here.
To learn more about the Special Needs Children's Fund for HSLDA members, go here.