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8/13/2009 3:20:05 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
August 2009: Homeschooling a Child with Asperger's Syndrome, Part 3
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by Dianne Craft
MA Special Education
Certified Natural Health Professional

The incidence of children with Asperger's Syndrome is increasing, but
many parents are finding comfort and success for these challenged
youths. In the February 2009 HSLDA Struggling Learner Newsletter
titled, "Homeschooling a Child with Asperger's Syndrome", we focused
on the biological interventions that parents of Asperger's children
have found helpful. Then, in the July issue, we turned our attention
toward beneficial educational and social interventions. Today, we will
address the topic of frequently recommended and necessary therapies.

Therapies

Should your homeschool program include working with therapists? Many
parents surveyed feel comfortable enough to work on most of their
child's issues at home. Others feel that much is gained by having
their child work with therapists once or twice a week.

1. Occupational Therapy

This type of help has received the most favorable comments from
parents. Most helpful is sensory integration therapy, which teaches
parents the "brushing technique" to help an overly responsive child
modulate his or her responses to outside stimuli.

Sensory Integration Issues: If your child's main need is in the
sensory integration (SI) area, parents have found that there are many
ways to incorporate SI therapy into the homeschooling day. They
include a strong "sensory diet" into their child's day by using such
methods as a spinning seat, trampoline, having the child sit under
cushions while watching a video or being read to, having the child go
barefoot in the grass, or, for more tactilely sensitive children,
putting on lotion or giving back rubs.

Other parents have found that using home therapeutics such as The
Listening Program (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6839) helps
modulate their child's sensory system. Many parents have also learned
the benefit of nutritional interventions to feed their child's nervous
system so that it gives more balanced signals to the child's brain and
body. (See "Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6840 by Lise Pyles for more home
therapy ideas.)


Fine Motor: For fine motor issues, parents often have their child peel
fruit, open small packets, peel off stickers, shell peanuts, or do
needlecraft. To improve the spatial and writing issues of the child,
many parent use the "Writing Eight Exercise" designed to cross the
midline (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6841), or "Handwriting
Without Tears" (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6850) .

Gross Motor: An Asperger's child with gross motor issues often doesn't
participate in gym classes in public school. At home, however,
parents can do much to help a child in this area. Examples of gross
motor therapies include biking, horseback riding, skateboarding,
karate, swimming, and gymnastics.


2. Speech

Children with Asperger's Syndrome often do not need the more
traditional form of speech therapy, such as help with articulation
errors, but they tend to need help with more pragmatic (practical,
conversational) speech encouragement. A speech therapist, in this
case, can help the Asperger's child learn to take turns in
conversation and understand idioms and more common expressions that
are used in everyday conversational speech.

For parents who want to help their child at home in addition to, or in
place of, seeing a speech therapist, they can help them with these
pragmatic social conversational skills, using many of the very good
resources available. There are some very popular books, such as
"Social Skills Activities for Special Children"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6842 by Darlene Mannix, or
"Navigating the Social World" http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6843
by Jeannie McAfee, with its excellent social conversational skills
material.

The social story concept, developed by Carol Gray, is a formula-based
written story to work through social conversations in various
situations. These stories can be found in her book, "The New Social
Story Book." http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6844 . You can also
visit her website for sample stories and guidelines
(http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6851). Parents can use the CD sets
and DVDs that demonstrate various social settings and give methods for
the child to interact appropriately. As you watch these DVDs
together, you can stop them, and practice with your Asperger's child
the conversational models that are provided. This gives the child,
particularly the teen, confidence, when done in the privacy of his or
her own home (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6845 and
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6846). As with all videos, the
parent should watch it first, to approve all content.

How do I pay for special therapy and where do I go?

If a parent decides to do outside therapy with their child, HSLDA
recommends that parents seek private therapy services for their child,
whenever possible, to avoid the many entanglements that can occur when
a homeschooled child receives services through the public school
system. However, remember that the most important objective is
meeting the needs of the child. If you are a member of HSLDA, then you
can contact one of the special needs coordinators, and they will help
you find a therapist in your area. For more information on outside
therapies and how to pay for them, go to
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6847 .

1. Many times a family's insurance will cover part of the speech or OT
therapy, especially when it has been recommended by the child's
physician.

2. There are many charitable organizations that are happy to help
parents provide services for their special needs child. Look in your
phone book for Shriners hospitals; Scottish Rite facilities; Easter
Seals; Elks organization.

3. The Home School Foundation http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6852
has some monies set aside specifically to help families with children
with special needs meet part of the cost of providing those needs.

Homeschooling is challenging, but it is also very rewarding. Many
parents find that by supplementing their child's academic needs with
specialized therapies, either on their own or through the help of a
private professional therapist, wonderful strides can be made for
their Asperger's-affected kids. Remember that you are not alone in
your decision to homeschool your child with Asperger's Syndrome.
HSLDA's special needs coordinators are here to come along side you and
make this a comfortable, successful trip. We observe, and parents
report, remarkable changes in their child's demeanor, comfort level,
learning and social interactions when they take the step to homeschool
their wonderful Asperger's child.


Resources

"Choosing Home" http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6848 by Martha
Kennedy Hartnett
OASIS (Online Asperger Syndrome Information & Support )
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6849 (very thorough website)
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-> Can you look at the clouds and tell the direction of the wind?

An interesting phenomenon of wind is that it can blow in multiple
directions at the same time, at different heights from the ground.
But usually there is a prevailing wind. HSLDA watches the gusts
and monitors the prevailing trends of change in the legal climate
of home education. So no matter which way the wind is blowing,
we're there to protect your family.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1938

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