A Capital Letter Syndrome Doesn’t Make a Child Less Than

Marching to the beat of his own drum.

I knew.  I knew from early on that my son marched to the beat of his own drum.  I tried to to make him march with the other kids.  I didn’t want him to think something was wrong with him.  I tried all the parenting advice and discipline techniques.  Nothing seemed to matter.  I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

A Capital Letter Syndrome Doesn't Make a Child Less Than

The school nightmare

School was a nightmare.  He’d burn up all his energy on trying to “be good” only to fail and fall short of the teacher’s expectations.  He never brought home that coveted green smiley on his behavioral chart that said it was a good day.  I could see it in his eyes, he felt less than.  Less than the other kids his age, less than good, less than what people want.  It broke my heart.  I hated that stinking behavioral chart.  I hated that people refused to try and understand my sweet boy.

Soon we realized that traditional public school made things worse.  When he was in third grade, my husband and I made the choice to homeschool all our children.  I will never forget the day early in our journey that he leaned against my shoulder and said “Thank you for homeschooling me, Mommy.  I felt so stupid in school”  I cried that day and still remember it so vividly.  I replay that memory when we’re having a rough day.

Being your Child’s Advocate

I knew that I was going to have to be my son’s biggest advocate.  From the time we got his SPD diagnosis in first grade until just recently, I’ve had to explain everything it means and what it doesn’t.  I’ve had to undo society’s idea of what perfect children should look like.  My son was perfect.  Exactly the way God made him.  Just because he doesn’t do everything like the masses doesn’t make him somehow less than.  I am actually proud that he doesn’t.  And now, even at 14 years old, I will still fight anyone that tries to force that square peg into that round hole….or lovingly point out how mistaken they are.  It’s a toss-up, really.  😉

Want to hear more of what Lori has to say on the subject? Listen to this week’s podcast episode:

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Lori Shaffer

Special Needs (Capital Letter Syndromes) and Homeschooling Director

Lori Shaffer is married to her childhood best friend, Jacob.  She is a stay at home missionary and homeschool mom to their three children.  She is passionate about advocating for teen moms and women and children that have been abused and giving them hope and encouragement.  Most days she can be found drinking coffee, working out with Kathleen, or hanging out with her family.

Follow Lori on Social Media:

Facebook- Lori Shaffer

Instagram –@browneyedmomof3

Instagram joint fitness account (Kathleen and Lori)-

@2girlsnotrunning

Episode 35- Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

Thinking about homeschooling? Or maybe you started homeschooling recently after pulling your kids out of public/private school. Maybe you are wondering if your transition is natural or you feel alone? Lori and Kathleen talk about their experience with the transition, such as leaving behind old ideas about what education really is. Grab a cup of coffee and join us for this episode that was listener requested!

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Show notes:

I met Lori at the Mom’s Tea I hosted once a week where we drank coffee and cried. This was a place where Moms could talk about what was going on in their lives. We mostly said, “me too”.We did studies together, but often went off on tangents.

The lessons: Everyone needs a support system.

It’s okay to cry.

Find someone who has been homeschooling for a while.

Your ideas about what education looks like may change.

One of the myths about homeschooling is that your kids will always love it.

You don’t have to replicate the public school.

What’s your Homeschool Style?

Don’t go to a curriculum fair alone! Go with a seasoned homeschooler!

Find out what your child needs and then base your choices on him, not what everyone tells you is the best.

It’s okay to go back to the beginning and teach foundational things that your kids missed.

Find your own family style and personality.

Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap!

Get your kids asking questions!

 

The Challenges and Rewards of Homeschooling Adopted Children

Homeschooling is an arduous and rewarding option. When you adopt kiddos from hard places, there are many benefits to choosing homeschooling. In this episode of the podcast, Kathleen and her husband Jerry talk about the benefits and challenges of homeschooling adopted children. Some are intertwined, you must face the challenge to reap the reward.

Homeschooling Adopted Children

Podomatic link here.

iTunes link here.

Here are just some of the topics discussed:

  • There is often a language barrier. This can be cultural or literal. Probably both.
  • Homeschooling allows a child to acclimate to a home and feel secure.
  • School wasn’t the child’s original focus, survival was.
  • The child may have missed lots of school and need extra help.
  • The inability to keep up in class reinforces the lie the child may believe-I’m not smart.
  • Being at home with Mom/Dad helps them regulate.
  • The child may need one on one teaching.
  • You can teach to their bent.
  • In the home you have the freedom to get up and exercise frequently.
  • A child from a hard place has an emotional age that is half their physical age.
  • When the gap between the child and their peers widens, the child feels more frustration and may want to give up. When homeschooling, you are able to teach to the stage and not the age. This decreases the stress on the child to keep up with his peers.

 

Some Favorite Purchases of my Homeschooling Career

Curriculum. It’s a hot topic with homeschooling Moms. We love to talk books, books, books. If you are like me, you have spent an crazy amount of money on curricula. Sometimes I would hear that something was ‘the best’ and I ordered it…and it just didn’t work for my kids. I have books on my shelf right now that I feel guilty about giving away because we only read a few chapters or filled in a very few workbook pages. I hesitate to suggest any curriculum to anyone without knowing their kids’ learning style and Mom/Dad’s teaching style. However, on the other hand, my library shelves are heavy with books and cds that we here at The Guire Shire have used/read over and over. Those are worth sharing.

 

Favorite Purchases of my

  1. The Great Adventure by Jeff Cavins is a chronological walk through the Bible complete with a workbook and timeline. The Guires have walked through the Bible several times using the reading plan and listening to the teaching CDs that are full of history. Jeff shares the plan of salvation in an easy to comprehend way.

    The Bible is at the Heart of Our Faith…

    … and our relationship with God. Scripture informs our beliefs and inspires our devotions. It is the living Word of God, where our Father meets with us and lovingly speaks to us. Reading the Bible should bring us closer to Christ, but understanding it is not always easy. Many people tell me they have tried time and again to prayerfully read Scripture, but they get frustrated because they “just don’t get it.”

    The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program is designed in such a way that anyone can make sense of the Bible and experience the life-changing power of God’s Word. Hundreds of thousands of people have found new meaning in their lives after going through The Great Adventure Bible studies. It is my prayer that you, too, will see how a newfound understanding of God’s Word can transform your life and bring you closer to Christ.- Jeff Cavins

  2. English from the Roots Up “Just as phonics helps children figure out what words are, Latin and Greek help them figure out what words mean.” -Joegil K. Lundquist, author. Each lesson begins with one Greek or Latin word, teaches its meaning, then gives children a list of from three to ten English words derived from the root word. For example, lesson ten introduces the Greek word kinesis meaning movement. The lesson then teaches five words derived from kinesis: kinetic, kinesiology, kinescope, cinema, and cinematographer. The words photos (light) and graph (write or draw) were introduced in the first two lessons, so children are connecting the last word to two Greek words they have already learned. This can create a picture in students’ minds of someone who can “draw” with “moving light,” making it easier for children to understand that a big word like cinematographer refers to the person who decides how to compose the scenes that he wants a movie camera to capture. Children each need a set of 100 cards, one for each lesson. Each card has the Greek or Latin word with a border of green for Greek words and red for Latin words. On the reverse are the derived words and their meanings. You can purchase sets of pre-made cards or make them along with your students….”- Cathy Duffy 
  3. Spelling PowerIntro video Spelling Power is the only spelling book I used for about fifteen years for seven students. The appeal of this program is any student who is ready to spell can use it at any level. One of my kids finished the whole program by the time he was a freshman in high school while others did not make it through the whole book. 
  4. Apologia Science If science seems overwhelming and over complicated, Apologia is the place to start. The texts are easy to understand, written to the student and full of experiments. When I started my homeschooling journey, I freaked out about doing science. I didn’t have a lab and I couldn’t imagine that I could perform experiments on my own. Turns out, I could. Apologia made it a little less scary. I dissected frogs, worms, fish, worms and crawdads (crayfish). We grew all sorts of beans in bags, kept pond water in jars for two weeks, mixed chemicals and found out which sort of veggies produced the most gas (canned, frozen or fresh). Once I strapped my science jeans (genes, get it?) on, Apologia helped me conquer my fears and go for it. 
  5. Teaching Textbook Math If you don’t feel as if you can teach high school math or you have students who would rather learn math on their own, Teaching Textbook is a great resource. Each grade level available comes with instructional videos, homework help and practice problems solved on the the DVD. 
    “Homeschooling through high school just got a whole lot easier! That’s because we’ve finally created a product that not only teaches high school math but does the grading as well. This new and improved version of Pre-Algebra is available for purchase now, at the same price as the old version, and its many NEW features include:
    1. Automated grading
    2. A digital gradebook that can manage multiple student accounts and be easily
      edited by a parent
    3. Over a dozen more lessons and hundreds of new problems and solutions
    4. Interactive lectures
    5. Hints and second chance options for many problems
    6. Animated buddies to cheer the student on
    7. Reference numbers for each problem so students and parents can see where a problem was first introduced
    8. An index
    9. Detailed appendices”

Each homeschooling family has a different personality and each should approach education according to their philosophy. I wouldn’t recommend a literature based curriculum to a math and science  type parent. Yet, I do feel there are some basics we can all agree upon. I hope my sharing these five suggestions helps you, whether you use them or this just gives you a starting point to make your own list to share.

What’s your homeschool style?


In my first year I of homeschooling, I did not have the advantage of scouring the internet or joining a forum.  I had never been to a vendor hall or talked to a representative of any curricula, so I took the path of least resistance.  I ordered some self-paced workbooks from one of the few catalogs that I had ordered by phone.

After a few days of workbooks, my oldest, Audrey balked.  Their was no scope for the imagination in workbooks.  No books.  No creative writing.  She, like her momma, craved words.  Lots of words.  Words to read.  Words to write.  The workbooks only provided snippets of literature- a portion of a chapter.  This was torture for a literature hungry soul.  
I wasn’t sure what to do.  My mind had not been renewed in the area of education and I thought the powers that be (whoever THEY are) would want me to push through and suffer like any good educator.

I did make some allowances and we visited our tiny library frequently.  Audrey loaded up on biographies and befriended the librarians.  Her thirst for knowledge was insatiable.  It went beyond the bounds of the schoolroom set-up.  She read everywhere all the time.  She wrote for hours.  Unfortunately, I felt compelled to make her work through the workbooks.

A couple years into my homeschooling career, I met Kelley and Ettica, some fellow homeschoolers.  We decided to start a homeschool co-op.  We had four families!  What joy!  I had women to talk to, compare notes with and resources for books.  I read, read, read about education and my philosophy began to change.  I used to think education was about filling in rubrics, meeting objectives and jumping through rote memorization hoops.  Now, I think differently.  I read these titles:


I more than read, I devoured them, hungry for this old, new philosophy.  Here’s a few quotes that changed my thinking:”We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we come to know, admire, and love.  We are educated by our friendships and by our intimacies….Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities.” -Karen Andreaola

I had to set aside my secular teaching degree, my rubrics, workbook, rote memorization hoops (not that they don’t have a place) and I realized- Audrey was educating herself in her free time through books.  She was forming relationships with people from long ago and joining the great conversation that has been going on since the invention of the written word.

“What is the best curriculum for a well-brought up person?  Whatever the specifics of the curriculum used in your home, be sure that your children each day have:

  • Something or someone to love
  • Something to do
  • Something to think about”  – Karen Andreola

what's your homeschool style_

I began a new quest for a curriculum choice that matched my new way of thinking.  Shortly after presenting a workshop entitled “YOU can do it” at our growing homeschool co-op, I was visiting friend Kelley.  I was checking out her bookshelves (like all homeschoolers do) and asked her what curriculum she used.  Sonlight.  She pulled an instructors guide off the shelve and I looked at the multitude of books and said, “I can’t do this!”  To which she said, “Yes, YOU can!”

That was many, many years ago.  I have been using Sonlight plus some supplements over the years and the literature rich curriculum just fits my family.  It may not fit yours.  Don’t feel pressure to order something that doesn’t.  Sonlight provides 27 Reasons NOT to buy Sonlight. If you are thinking about purchasing it, read this first!

I love Sonlight because it not only has the reading my family needed, it can be used for multiple children at once.  Sonlight traveled to Poland with us for five weeks.  I read aloud in the common room in the orphanage.  I have so many great memories of reading together and the kids have so many great relationships with books.

Whatever you choose, make sure it fits your family.  Find out your style!  Read. Research.  Are you science driven?  History buff?  A math genius?  A writer?  Find your style and your kid’s style and go from there.

If your kids love learning (this doesn’t mean they always love school) and desire to continue to educate themselves- you have arrived.

“Their is no education but self-education.” -Charlotte Mason

 

Homeschooling Mom, are you stuck in the comparison trap?

  Imagine a bear trap closing on a human leg, bone crunching, blood spurting, immeasurable pain.  Not to mention being stuck.  Stuck in pain.  Stuck in one place until someone comes and releases you from the trap.
What does a bear trap have to do with homeschooling?  What doesn’t work for me is the comparison trap.  It’s a lot like a bear trap.  It’s buried, you don’t see it, but once you get caught in it, you are stuck and in immeasurable pain.
Four of my children are adopted and had traumatic beginnings.  When they came home, their emotional ages and physical ages didn’t match up.  Their development was delayed and each of them had some learning challenges, all of that topped with learning a new language.  On a scholastic number line, they were in the negative.
Comparing kid to a standard one size fits all is like walking around with a bear trap attached to your calf.  It drains the life blood right out of you.
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One night at the dinner table, Rafal shared that a boy in his Royal Ranger troop isn’t athletic and the commander encourages him along.
“I wasn’t that athletic as a child,”  I replied.
“You weren’t?”  he asked incredulously.
He was surprised.  I roller blade, ice skate, swim, climb around on rocks with my kids. I’m still not coordinated, but don’t tell him.
I was a late bloomer.  While my sister was ready to train for the Olympics in gymnastics, I was doing what I did best at the time- stumbling and falling on my face a lot!
“What did you do back then?” he asked.
“Well, I was little and skinny.  So I RAN. AWAY, mostly from other kids.”  Laughter.
Kids are growing through ages and stages at different rates.  Who they are or what they are doing now does not determine who they will become unless we compare and verbally point out what we see as delays.  Get help for your special needs child if you need to. Talk to experienced moms, but don’t rehearse the delays in front of him.  I have taken classes, attended workshops on speech therapy and various seminars to help me teach my children.  I want my children to reach their potential.  I am saying CELEBRATE their victories.
If Susie next door wins the regional spelling bee and your child through equal time and effort can spell ten words, then don’t compare.  CELEBRATE!
If your child participates in the Social Studies Fair and speaks in front of the judges with tears streaming down her face because of social anxiety. She did it afraid.  CELEBRATE!
If all the high schoolers at Co-op are taking A.P. courses and your child took two years to complete Algebra I, but he conquered it. CELEBRATE!
Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap. It’s a painful place to be, instead enjoy each age and stage your children are in!

Back to School- Homeschooling Edition

Episode 33- Back to School- Homeschooling Edition

If you’ve chosen to homeschool, then you know a lot of planning goes into starting a new school year! Kathleen homeschooled for twenty-one year and Amerey is starting year three, so they share lots of tips and tricks to make your school year run smoothly. Such as: knowing your kids’ strengths and weaknesses when choosing a curriculum, being sure to teach life skills as a part of school, choosing a schooling style to fit your family. Most importantly, be flexible

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Some main points from this week’s episode:

  1. Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses
  2. Pick out your child’s curriculum based on number 1.
  3. Discover your family’s personality.
  4. Teach to your family’s personality.
  5. Add life skills into your daily schedule.
  6. Have a schedule that fits your family.
  7. Be flexible.
  8. Remember that every child will not excel at everything.
  9. Every child has a purpose and God has given him what he needs to succeed .
  10. Write a mission statement.

Podomatic link here.

iTunes link here.

Hope you enjoy this week’s episode, next week- The Benefits of Homeschooling -Adoption Edition!

 

You Don’t Have to Have it All Together

Ever have one of those days, weeks or even months when you feel as if you are barely hanging on?

Maybe you adopted a child and the honeymoon period is over, his past is being triggered over and over. It’s drowning you.

Maybe you have had an illness and you can’t do what you used to be able to do.

Maybe you are homeschooling and one week in, your’e tired and you wonder if you can keep this going?

Maybe you stepped out of your comfort zone to follow your God-sized dream and you’re doing it, but if has you wiped out and wondering if you made the right choice.

Maybe today, you just want to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed. 

If any of the above applies to you, this is for you…..

There was a day when you woke up full of energy and ready to tackle the world. You may wonder where that zeal and energy went. You may be wondering if you missed it, if you shouldn’t have adopted, started homeschooling or followed your God-sized dream. Do you blame yourself for your illness?

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I just want to point out a few things today and maybe throw some encouragement your way. Woman, we have a guilt complex. We blame ourselves for everything. We want to solve everything (guilty). Most women want everyone to get a balloon and a ribbon. That’s just not realistic. If you are having doubts, a difficult season or doubting everything your doing right now, remember these three simple truths:

Three simple truths:

1. Life is not perfect. Don’t doubt your calling or your purpose because your circumstances are difficult. Most often, that means you are on the right track. Anything worth doing is going to be hard work.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

2. When life is hard, that doesn’t mean you failed.  I often fall into this line of thinking, when things are difficult, I think I failed or God is mad at me. It’s just not true. The truth is God is with us. He will not leave or forsake us. AT ALL. He understands our weaknesses. He came to earth to be human so he could identify with us. Difficulty is not failure. Difficulty is an opportunity to grow.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4: 14-16

3. When you fall, get back up again. As I said before, women carry the guilt complex. Often when we fall, yell at the kids, our hubbys or kick the cat, we wear it like a mantle of shame. We keep rehearsing it over and over again in our minds, like a YouTube video on replay. We think of how we should have done things differently. We wear the weight of our sin instead of repenting and beginning anew. Sister, just ask God to forgive you and move on as if it never happened. Yep. That’s what God does.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.- I John 1:9

And here’s an extra one to hang your hat on, if you are chosen, anointed, picked out to do the thing you are doing, then nothing can stop the call of God on your life. Just keep going, there will be days that seem as if you can’t go on, but you can. You can do what God has called you to do whether that is homeschooling, adopting/fostering, ministering to women or __________________. Breathe. This isn’t up to you. It’s all on God. He’s got this. Even when you don’t see it, He’s working. Even when you don’t feel it, He’s working. He never stops working. You don’t have to have it all together. God already does.

 

Homeschooling Special Needs Children

*This is condensed from a talk I shared at the THESIS Mom’s Tea.

 

Special Needs-In the United States, special needs is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological.

Special needs impairs the child’s ability to function in day to day activities at home and school. I call them capital letter syndromes. ADD, ADHD, SPD, Asperger’s, Autism, Attachment Disorders.

special-needs

Should you homeschool your special needs child?

“Objective studies demonstrate that parents are providing a superior form of education for their special needs children by teaching them at home. Contrary to the claims of the education elite, parents do not have to be specially certified or have special qualifications to teach their handicapped children at home.

In fact, in one of the most thorough studies performed thus far on the subject, Dr. Steven Duvall conducted a year-long study involving eight elementary and two junior high students with learning disabilities. He compared one group of five students that received instruction at home with a group of five students who attended public schools. He was careful to match the public school students to the homeschool students according to grade level, sex, IQ, and area of disability. Using a laptop computer, Dr. Duvall sat in on teaching sessions and took an observation every 20 seconds, creating tens of thousands of data points that were then fed into a statistical analysis package. Normally his research included a second observer who double-checked Dr. Duvall’s readings.

Dr. Duvall recorded and analyzed academically engaged time by students during instructional periods. He also administered standardized achievement tests to them to measure gains in reading, math and written language. His results show that the homeschooled, special needs students were academically engaged about two-and-one-half times as often as public school special needs students! He found the children in the public school special education classrooms spent 74.9 percent of their time with no academic responses, while the homeschool children only spent 40.7 percent of their time with no academic responses. He also found that homeschools have children and teachers sitting side-by-side or face-to-face 43 percent of the time, while public education classrooms had such an arrangement for special needs children only 6 percent of the time. This was a tremendous advantage for the homeschoolers.

His study further demonstrated that the homeschool students averaged six months’ gain in reading compared to only a one-half month gain by the special public school students. Furthermore, the homeschool special needs students during the year gained eight months in written language skills compared to the public school counterparts who gained only two-and-one-half months.”

Dr. Duvall summarized, “… This study clearly shows that home schooling is beneficial for special needs students.” 1 (All info gleaned from HSLDA.org)

Four points about homeschooling special needs children.

  1. Go with your gut and don’t let outside opinion bully you into doing something that isn’t right for your child. You know best. You probably were the first one to have an inkling that something wasn’t quite right. Mom’s have the insight into their children that no one else has. If someone else says, “oh, my kid does that.” and you know that what they are talking about is an occasional meltdown and your kid can’t make it through two minutes of a certain environment without melting down ten times, trust your gut, not the lady you met at the playground for five minutes. Find someone who empathizes and talk to her. Look for info and follow the trail of research for your child. You are his advocate. It's not about

2.  Homeschooling special needs children is tough. Make sure you take time for fun for both you and your family. It’s not about perfection, it’s about persistence to keep going. It’s about what you have under your belt, not what you don’t. It’s about grace in the journey, educating your child and enjoying the trip.

3. Find what works for your child and don’t be harassed by “What your Child Needs to Know books” or academic texts. Teach at their pace and level for best results.  If you set the bar too high, you will both always be frustrated or at war. Comparing kid to a standard one size fits all is like walking around with a bear trap attached to your calf.  It drains the life blood right out of you. Kids are growing through ages and stages at different rates.  Who they are or what they are doing now does not determine who they will become unless we compare and verbally point out what we see as delays.  Get help for your special needs child if you need to.  Talk to experienced moms, but don’t rehearse the delays in front of him.  I have taken classes, attended workshops on speech therapy and various seminars to help me teach my children.  I want my children to reach their potential.  I am saying CELEBRATE their victories.

If Susie next door wins the regional spelling bee and your child through equal time and effort can spell ten words, then don’t compare.  CELEBRATE!

If your child participates in the Social Studies Fair and speaks in front of the judges with tears streaming down her face because of social anxiety. She did it afraid.  CELEBRATE!

If all the high schoolers at Co-op are taking A.P. courses and your child took two years to complete Algebra I, but he conquered. CELEBRATE!

4. Social/emotional education is just as valid and necessary. If you have an Aspie, three grades ahead in math doesn’t mean they’re doing that well in every area– it’s okay to work on other things. Role playing, social books, practicing outside the moment (training) helps. Before I took my kids to the library for the first time, we practiced at home. We used our schoolroom/dining room/ library for the library. We practiced whispering and finding books. Our tiny local library had a system for the kids. There was a tub of wooden rulers on the table and each time a child took a book off the shelf to look at it, he marked it with a ruler so he could return it later. I think we practiced that part a little too much, because after mere minutes in the library the shelves were full of rulers and the kids had huge stacks of books, none of which they really wanted! Be careful what you emphasize in practice. For the kids who need help practicing social skills or who can’t handle too much stimulation in public, lights, sounds, etc., it is better to talk them through exactly what is going to happen.

All of these are great practices for any of your children. Those who have special needs may need them more, but every child needs an advocate, someone who will take the time to practice outside the moment, someone to cheer them on and celebrate with them. It doesn’t hurt to help all of your children to sort out what is socially acceptable.

Don’t forget Mom and Dad, that you are the parent. Take the reigns. If you think homeschooling is best for your special needs child, then the evidence is for you not against you. Find a support group or a homeschool co-op that offers what your child needs.