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4/23/2009 10:10:57 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
April 2009: Homeschooling a Child with Asperger's Syndrome
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by Dianne Craft,
MA Special Education,
Certified Natural Health Professional

In the United States, it is estimated that one family out of 150 has a
child who is struggling with Asperger's syndrome , or autism . (CDC
report as seen on www.medicalnews.today.com) This represents a 500%
increase in the past 10 years. Homeschooling families are not immune
to this phenomenon.

Many experts on Asperger's syndrome encourage three approaches to help
these children overcome many of the challenges they face: biological
interventions, educational interventions, and social interventions.

In this newsletter we will focus on the biological interventions that
parents have found to be helpful with their children. In the next
newsletter we will deal with educational and social interventions.
Before we get to interventions, let's focus on the characteristics and
why homeschooling is best in helping a child with Asperger's be
successful.

CHARACTERISTICS

What does the homeschooling day look like for a family who has a child
with Asperger's-like symptoms? Let's follow a day in the life of
Steve.

1. Mom finds that she cannot change the "routine" for the day or
Steve tends to become very upset. The need to have things the same is
a very strong drive for him. New settings and noises in particular
bother him.

2. Helping him learn a "balanced" curriculum also takes much effort
from mom because Steve tends to have very narrowed interests, wanting
only to learn about World War II planes, or studying only spiders in
the animal kingdom. He is very fact-oriented, memorizing an amazing
array of information about a subject that he is interested in. In
fact, he often only talks about one subject to others, even if they
are not interested in it.

3. While the other siblings enjoy youth group at church, or the social
interactions with other homeschoolers, Steve very often is aloof, not
participating in the interactions, appearing to be a loner. When he
does interact, his behavior frequently is inappropriate, because he
has difficulty reading social cues, and nonverbal signs that people
give to one another. Sometimes his behavior can be loud and
aggressive. At times it looks like he is detached from the feelings
of others. He seems to exhibit little ability to form friendships.

4. When teaching him, mom finds that he easily seems to go into his
own world, being fascinated by thoughts that have nothing to do with
the task at hand. In fact, he can entertain himself for a long time
with nothing more than a simple piece of string.

If these characteristics resonate with you regarding one of your
children, please don't despair. Homeschooling is a wonderful tool for
helping such children be successful.

WHY HOMESCHOOLING IS BEST

Many parents have found that the very best educational setting for
these wonderful children is at home. Since these children are often
very curious, even gifted learners, at home they are free to explore
the topics of interest to them, without needing to do the mundane
chores that are needed in the more formal school setting. Also, since
peer relationships aren't their strength, they are not distracted from
their learning by the constant need to interact with their peers.
Their siblings and parents can be their friends. They learn
appropriate social interaction in the home setting. And since many of
these children suffer with "SI" symptoms (Sensory Integration
Dysfunction), it is better for them to be educated in a setting free
from the unsettling atmosphere of a crowded school room, with its
accompanying noises, movement, and demands.

The one thing that all of these children have in common is that they
easily experience sensory overload. Whether the label is Sensory
Integration Dysfunction or Sensory Processing Problems, these children
would be what Lendon B. Smith, MD describes as "goosey, touchy kids",
meaning that everything bothers them. Their sensory system shouts "red
alert" when something as insignificant as a label on a shirt, a lump
in the yogurt, a loud noise, a sock with a seam, stiffer jeans, foods
touching on the plate, a change in routine, or an unexpected touch
occurs. They are not comfortable in their own skin. Anxiety rules
much of their day. (Asperger's Syndrome, Tony Attwood)

At home, you can give your child a set schedule for the day, so he
knows what to expect, which will give him a good level of comfort. It
is also the best setting in which to pinpoint dietary issues that may
be contributing to the child's behavior. Several parents have
homeschooled their children with Asperger's syndrome and written books
about the methods that they found to work well with these wonderful
children. Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome: Real Help
for Parents Anywhere and on Any Budget (paperback), by Lise Pyles, and
Choosing Home: Deciding to Homeschool with Asperger's Syndrome by
Martha Kennedy Hartnett. These books provide step-by-step instructions
and advice on creating a curriculum for a child with Asperger's
syndrome. We will be talking a great deal more about ways to teach
your child at home, in the next newsletter.

BIOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS

Some physicians, who have children of their own with Asperger's
syndrome, have developed a "metabolic" theory of Asperger's. They
have seen their own children overcome many of these unsettling
symptoms by balancing their child's body chemistry.

The "Gut" Connection

It has been found that there is a strong connection between gut health
and symptoms of Sensory Processing Problems and Asperger's syndrome.
Early, or prolonged antibiotic use, or intero exposure to antibiotics
or steroids appears to be the dominant factor in this approach. The
early or prolonged antibiotic use often creates the overgrowth of
yeast and fungus in the child's system. These yeast/fungus toxins
cause many behavioral upsets, including spaciness, mood swings,
aggression, hyperactivity, inappropriate behavior, depression, anxiety
and in general an upset nervous system. This upset also tends be the
catalyst for food allergies. Thousands of parents report very
positive changes in their child's behavior and learning when they take
natural steps to rebalance their child's gut ecology.

Resources: The Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Natasha-Campbell McBride,
Help for Your Hyperactive Child, William Crook, MD, Superimmunity for
Kids, Leo Galland, MD, The Biology of Behavior CD set, Dianne Craft,
MA, CNHP.

The "Food Allergy" Connection

In his book, Cerebral Allergies, Dr. Philpott describes the many
behavioral manifestations of an allergy. Dr. Doris Rapp, in her book,
Is This Your Child? describes videos that she made of the dramatic
change in a child's behavior after the child was exposed to a food
allergen. It has been well established that children with ADD, ADHD,
dyslexia, SI, autism and Asperger's syndrome tend to have a
compromised immune system, resulting in many hidden allergies. These
children often have food allergies and, as a result, many parents have
seen dramatic changes when they not only reduce sugar and simple
carbohydrates, but also when they begin an allergy elimination diet.
To read instructions on how to start an elimination diet to determine
the effect of a food on your child's behavior, and for parent
testimonials, go to www.gfcfdiet.com, www.scdiet.com,
www.pecanbread.com and www.blockcenter.com. Many parents find that by
adding a targeted enzyme to each of the child's meals, that the child
can tolerate a much wider range of foods without behavioral reactions.
You can read about the enzymes that parents have found to be most
effective, at the parent website, www.enzymestuff.com.


THE BOTTOM LINE

The exciting news is that parents are finding ways to greatly reduce
the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome in their child by following the
paths that other parents have created. To find some of these paths,
go to the websites: www.recoveryvideos.com, and www.tacanow.com. To
find an "integrative" physician in your area, you can go to
www.acamnet.com or www.autism.about.com The Carl Pfeiffer Treatment
Center (www.hriptc.org) located in the Chicago area is a clinic run by
physicians who look for the metabolic "cause" of Asperger's symptoms
and create a very thorough nutritional intervention plan for parents
to follow, to reduce the symptoms that the child is experiencing.

God has shown us many ways to help our children who have
Asperger's-like behaviors to feel more comfortable. The
implementation of these changes is not as difficult as it seems. If
you choose to make a change to diet or supplementation, first check
with your health care professional. Make only one change at a time,
so you will know what is helping. As you do your own research, you
will find there are many ways to make your child more comfortable in
his own skin, resulting in behaviors that are so much improved.

There are many aspects in the process of working with children with
Asperger's syndrome, and it can easily seem beyond your grasp to deal
with it. But please be encouraged; you can make progress, as will
your child, one step at a time! And be sure to watch for our upcoming
Struggling Learner newsletter in which we will explore the educational
and social aspects of working with these children.

Blessings to you and your family,
HSDLA's Struggling Learners Coordinators
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-> You can only do so much...

No one can be everywhere at once. And you can't be at home,
teaching your children, while monitoring your state's legislature.
Through electronic legislative services, HSLDA is monitoring state
legislation for you -- watching and listening carefully for any
proposed laws that could erode your right to homeschool.
Join HSLDA today-we'll watch out for your future.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1942

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