Unschooling and Special Needs

On Always Learning in March 2011, someone asked about Trying to juggle two little one's needs, having a child with Down Syndrome, all his required therapies (even though he was younger than two) and about putting her older child in day care because of the time involved in the therapies. Other posters had a few ideas, but akgreeley wrote something especially inspiring: I have a son who would certainly be labeled with disabilities if he were in school. I am familiar with the early intervention path, and how it can make every suggestion seem mandatory.

One of the reasons I quit the path of cookie-cutter help was because I got to watch my (unschooler) friend's son, a boy much like my own, blossom in her care. With every difficulty or difference he presented, whether it was speech differences, sensory difficulties, or behavior issues, she arranged life to fit his needs. She also approached all this with a solid faith in him that he was the way he was supposed to be, and that he was on his own schedule. She sought appropriate help when needed, but it was out of a "what are his true needs" space.

I have since approached my son's needs in a similar manner, and he is blossoming. He doesn't need OT because he gets plenty of appropriate stimulation, and I am able to cater to his environmental and physical needs. It is looking like he would benefit from some play therapy, as he's currently dealing with dangerously strong emotions, and we will get that for him because I can see both my own limitations in helping him with that issue, and the benefit of the proposed therapy.

My son requires huge amounts of my attention and time, and I struggle with how this takes away from my other two children. Had we come to unschooling earlier, I might know better how to balance my time. As it is, I'm getting better and I'm seeing all my children thrive.

In your shoes, I might ask myself if all of the therapies are truly necessary. They are designed as preludes to schooling, and they may not all apply. Even if they do, is there a less invasive schedule you could take? When the help you're getting takes away so drastically from the rest of your life, maybe it's not really a help.

If you didn't know these therapies "had" to be used, what help would you need for your child, right now? What wouldn't you need?

Susan, on Video Games

Video Games and Autism, by Susan/wifetovegman, responding to questions posed on a discussion list.

Danielle Conger

Parenting a Spirited Child—some insights and experiences from life with a spirited child
This is an expansive collection of Danielle's thoughts, with lists of practical suggestions.

Unschooling the High Need Child


Doesn't sound like ADHD to me! Interesting account of the history of a boy whose first grade teacher says "ADHD."

Debbie Smith

Expecting Happiness, of her son who has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired.

Kathy Ward

has three pages on special needs children. Kathy has homeschooled and unschooled both, and has nine children all happy and healthy. Her site dissolved and is being reconstructed. Part of it is here: SandraDodd.com/KathyWard and there's a link to her new pages, still in progress.

Another Path, a comprehensive guide to homeschooling your deaf or hard-of-hearing child [Don't know these folks, but came across an unschooling page on their site.]

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