Homeschooling your autistic child? These 10 tips will help you create a plan and teach effectively, stay sane and even have fun! Don’t forget to download your free homeschool activity planner. It will help you plan your homeschooling activities each day.
Tips to Help You While You Are Homeschooling Your Autistic Child
Create a plan (and stick to it)
Your autistic child most likely thrives on routine and predictability. Having a plan for your homeschooling sessions will reassure your child and let him or her know exactly what to expect each day. It will also help you be prepared for your homeschooling activities by knowing what you will teach, how you will teach it, using what materials and at what time of the day.
Some things to consider when homeschooling an autistic child?
- Where will you do your sessions?
- What time of day will you work on homeschooling activities?
- How long will your homeschooling lessons be each day?
- What are your main homeschooling goals?
- What materials will you use to teach your child?
- What sensory play activities will you present to your little one during the day?
- What are your child’s current reinforcers?
- How will you reward yourself for the effort you are putting into homeschooling?
Have fabulous materials (and mix them up and switch them out often)
Children with autism thrive on routines but also need variety. This is one of the paradoxes of the autistic child – and any child really.
If you are using the same exact materials, and proposing the same exact activities, every time you sit down to homeschool, a few undesirable things could happen.
- Your child may become fixated on always doing the exact same thing making it difficult to introduce new activities in the future.
- Your little one may become bored and want to leave the table or not come to sit with you at all to begin with.
- Your child may start exhibiting difficult behaviors to avoid working with you at all.
- Your child may zone out to avoid learning.
In short, mix things up! Keep things interesting. Nobody wants to do the exact same thing every day.
I put together a through post all about how to rotate toys that will walk you through each step of putting in place, and using, a toy rotation system in your home. I even prepared a free printable workbook to use, so make sure you get your copy in the post.
Prep all materials in advance
When you sit down to do a homeschooling session, it is important to already have everything prepared. If your little one needs to wait while you go and get materials, it can be stressful and your child may just leave the table and not feel inspired to work with you any more.
Instead, gather everything you will need for the session you have planned beforehand – the night before or at some point before you plan to begin your homeschooling activities for the day.
You will also be a more confident homeschooler if you have everything you need for the activities you have planned within arm’s reach.
Work for the same amount of time each day
Routine is so important to children with autism. I always recommend that you work on your homeschooling curriculum and activities at the same time each day.
Your child will come to know how long the homeschooling session is and be naturally more prepared for it in advance.
This way your child knows exactly what to expect and can plan for the activities that are coming each day.
This will increase stability and reduce potential frustration and resulting challenging behaviors.
Make time for sensory play
Most individuals on the autism spectrum require regular sensory input and self-regulatory sensory activities.
This means that basic sensory play will be fun and calming for your child. It will always be positive to make a part of your child’s day.
Personally, I love engaging in sensory play and it’s one of my favorite things to put in place with my coaching clients when I am designing adapted curriculums. It can make such a big difference in terms of creating more opportunities for learning and fun and it often helps to reduce difficult behaviors at home.
Some sensory play ideas for your little one on the autism spectrum?
Use these sensory break cards to plan your daily sensory play and present it to your child in an organized and visual way.
Work at the best time for your child when homeschooling
If you listen closely to your body, everyone has a certain rhythm. There are times of the day when you feel more energised. There are also times of the day when you feel more depleted.
It is not the same for everyone and in order to make the most of the day, it is important to get to know yourself.
The same goes for your autistic child. Each child is different and in order to teach your child at the best time of day for him or her, you will need to track energy levels and concentration levels to get a good idea of when is the best time for you to schedule your homeschooling sessions.
Remember, when you are working at home, there is no need to have to work during school hours unless you have to follow a particular schedule set by your child’s teacher. If you can, make your own schedule that is in harmony with their child’s natural energy and concentration levels.
Keep screen time to a minimum
I am a firm believer that screen time should be limited for all autistic kids, all kids… ok all humans.
Nothing good comes from spending the entire day in front of the screen for anyone.
Studies show that children with autism are even more sensitive in many ways, so it is best to limit screen time.
That being said, a short, controlled amount of screen time can work as a powerful reinforcer, is a great way to learn new skills and also provides some respite to parents and caregivers.
Use YouTube to your full advantage
“Wait what? You just said to keep screen time to a minimum!” (I can hear your protests.)
I stick to what I said but when limiting screen time, I am referring specifically to time when your child is on the phone or iPad alone.
YouTube is an awesome resource, and when used properly, can be a great addition to your homeschooling program.
Some videos to get you started?
Use a reward system
Reinforcement is key. All behaviors are maintained by reinforcement – whether you have autism or not.
If want your child to stay motivated, encouraged and happy to come and play and learn with you during your homeschooling activities, you will need to plan for reinforcement.
What lights your child up? What are his or her favorite toys, activities, songs? All of these would make potential great reinforcers for your home program!
Homeschooling your autistic child is incredibly rewarding but it can also be hard work. It requires preparation, attention, concentration and energy and if you’re not careful, it can overwhelm and deplete you. Don’t let this happen!
Instead, plan for self-care from the beginning. If you can, after your homeschooling sessions, ask your husband to keep your child and go take a bath, read a book, or do another favorite self-care activity.
I know a lot of you are solo parents. If this is the case, try to occupy your child with an independent play activity so that you can benefit from some quiet time or wait until your child is sleeping.
This is my list of favorite self-help books for women.
Some of my best self-care ideas for moms?
- Journaling (use these journal prompts for moms)
- Light a candle and spend some time meditating
- Read a favorite blog
- Watch a favorite tv show
- Listen to some relaxing music
- Flip through magazines
- Take a bubble bath
- Speak to family member or friend on the phone
Self-care looks different for everyone. If you have trouble coming up with self-care ideas, why not make a list of everything that lights you up, so that when you have some time top pamper yourself, you can take a quick look at your list and choose an activity quickly and easily.
Homeschooling Your Autistic Child?
These 10 Tips That Will Help!
More resources to help you in your homeschooling journey
- The Autism Activities Workbook Bundle – this bundle of autism workbooks will help you teach your autistic child at home. They are perfect for a classroom or therapeutic practice as well!
- The Sensory Communication Workbook – use the activities in this workbook to build communication skills in a fun, sensory way.
- The Getting Picky Eaters to Eat Workbook – does your child struggle with trying new foods? Use this workbook to assess the current situation and add new foods, step by step.
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