Homeschooling a child with autism can open your eyes to a whole new world of education. It can shift your perspective in many ways and guide you to what is truly most important. . . if you allow it to.
I struggled with this early on. Because of my background in public school education, I tried so hard to “keep up” with the public school standards and methodologies. I tried so hard to fit my child into this box that he kicked and crumbled.
It wasn’t easy, but it forced me to dig deeper and seek new ways to support him and encourage him through it all. I learned to let go of the “grade-level boxes” and embraced the daily victories. I learned to notice his gifts and celebrate his uniqueness and creativity. I learned to be faithful in the daily journey and to trust The Lord with the results.
In our homeschool, we focus on providing emotional and physical support.
Providing Emotional Support
The video below shares what I’ve learned about autism, according to the "Intense World Theory of Autism" found in The Boy Who Felt Too Much: How a Renowned Neuroscientist and His Son Changed Our View on Autism Forever. This explanation has helped me better understand the unique challenges that children with autism face each and every day. This awareness has also helped us come alongside our son to better encourage and equip him to overcome his struggles.
Providing Physical Support
Over the years, my eyes have also been opened to the impact of nutrition, diet, and supplementation. I personally was able to overcome chronic and autoimmune disease through changes in my eating habits and lifestyle. I have also seen the huge difference that certain foods play in the overall wellness and behaviors of our children—especially our son with autism.
We have found a gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, and artificial dye-free diet to be the most helpful for us all. I prepare the majority of our meals from scratch and use natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and coconut palm sugar. The children also enjoy a large variety of fruits, baked goods, raw milk cheese, and smoothies for snacks a couple of times a day.
We limit our intake of processed foods, such as those with inflammatory oils, including soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and other vegetable oils. Instead, we cook with olive oil and coconut oil in our home.
The Nemechek Protocol for Autism and Developmental Disorders: A How-To Guide to Restoring Neurological Function is a great resource for understanding the impact that these oils have on autism and other neurodevelopment disorders. It also advocates for gut support with inulin and omega-3 supplementation.
We have found the following protocol, however, to be most helpful.
Simple Spectrum Multi-Vitamin or PatchMD Kids Multivitamin--This provides overall nutritional support for a strong immune system and overall function.
All Star Nutriton BioHeal Probiotic--This has been SO helpful for balancing the gut and helping with behavioral concerns. It helps reduce inflammation, stabilize mood, and improve cognitive function.
Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Fish Oils--This helps with immune support and to reduce overall inflammation. It also helps with detoxification.
Natural Calm Magnesium--This is useful at bedtime or as needed for calming.
Every child is different, so I encourage you to find what works best for your child. Click on the links above to read reviews and find out more. Also consider seeking the help of a biomedical doctor or MAPS doctor for further support.
What I hope you will take away from this overall is that there are nutritional factors that can make a HUGE difference in the life of your child and family. Things like refined-sugar and artificial dyes can have a profound impact in your child’s ability to focus or think clearly and can lead to extra stimming and/or negative and difficult behaviors.
Providing physical and emotional support can help your child feel better and learn in a safe environment. Making these changes can lead to a more peaceful and productive homeschool. It may require a bit more intention and planning, but it is so worth it to see your child thrive.