When your child is diagnosed with any kind of special needs everything kind of tilts, the light changes just a bit, and the whole world looks a little different. You are left with a million questions, a million worries, a million decisions to make about the best way to help them. One of those decisions is whether to have them learn in a public or private school setting or at home. It is not a decision anyone takes lightly and can be even more agonizing for parents with a special needs child. The good news is if you make one choice and it’s not working out you are not locked in, you can change it.
This is a decision only you can make and it will depend on which spectrum or other disorder your child has, how severe, your family dynamic, and your child’s personality. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each option because it is not really a cut and dried decision.
Public/Private schools are able to offer things like speech, occupational therapy, and after school tutoring. Your child is in a scheduled setting, they know what to expect every day, they are exposed to children of different abilities, have more of a chance to make friends, and learn to follow a different set of rules- all great things that can help them in future work settings. It can be harder to homeschool a special needs children in some states, it can be a little harder to show their progress.
Homeschool can be much more relaxed-this is a blessing and a curse. You can change your child’s learning so that it suits them instead of making the child conform to it. This is great for any child, being able to pursue their interests at their speed, but can be amazing for a special needs child that is getting lost at school. You will also have access to OT and Pt through insurance private pay, or through local schools.Homeschooling can leave you and your child feeling isolated from the rest of the world but it doesn’t have to be that way if you seek out groups, join clubs, and sports. While you can request a 504 or IEP to give your child accommodations in the classroom it isn’t always enough to meet your child’s needs.
Some questions you can ask yourself to help with the decision…
Does your child find themselves unable to focus in school because of distractions? Does the stimulation of sights and sounds that they see there increase tics or anxiety? Are they or you frustrated because while your child is smart they are falling behind from the day to day stresses of the school environment? Homeschool may be your special needs child’s best option.
If you are unable to maintain the structure in homeschool that most special needs kids crave, you don’t have the time to devote to it, if your child responds better to other adults or acts out with parents (their safe haven), or you are unable to access the resources of pt and ot on your own your child may find greater success in a public/private school environment.