As we start on our journey of homeschooling together, I’ve pondered how to help with the special needs of students for this program. After all, I’ve been a specialist for 27 years but it’s different when you are developing individual plans versus explaining how to work with students through curriculum and homeschooling.
So I thought I would start with some red flags…things with your child or children that don’t quite seem to fit the mold. How do we go about identifying their needs? Honestly, identification is the most important step, and all of us parents know our kids way better than anyone else.
How to Identify
First, more severe needs are easier to identify and harder to find solutions to help the child learn their world. Most parents know early on that something isn’t quite right but hope and pray they are wrong. We have kids that don’t respond to their names or noises, children that don’t eat well and are slow to walk and talk or don’t start at all. They cry inconsolably or don’t cry at all. Their muscles may not work right and they are too rigid or flaccid. We know when our kids have more severe needs.
The children that are hardest for parents, and teachers are the children with milder or moderate issues. How do we know our child has a learning disability versus a learning difference? Sometimes we need to get the experts involved and I don’t mean the doctor or pediatrician but rather the speech and language pathologist or the educational specialist or the educational psychologist. However you, as the parent will be a key figure in this process….because you know your child.
Somethings that most parents aren’t aware of are the developmental milestones for children….is your child hitting the milestones?
The CDC has a very good list here, you can print the CDC Child Milestones
Another good milestone list is from the Child Mind Institute, you can read their guide here.
Knowing the milestones is a huge help in knowing your child’s needs. When my daughter was a baby, she started talking very, very early! Don’t ask what my grandmother taught her to say!!! However, my beautiful baby girl struggled to walk. She could get the movements but she wouldn’t let go of the wall or table for several months past the developmental milestone window. What I didn’t know then was this was a sign of a potential learning disability that we dealt with later. Who would have guessed that learning to walk and learning to read could be connected?
Another problem parents have, myself included, is recognizing that even though your child is brilliant, they may have a learning disability. My beautiful daughter could add and subtract by 2. She was using words at 5 months. She could spell her name at 3 and recognized most of the letters but couldn’t combine sounds into words. When she entered school, the push to connect the letters to sounds caused her to forget the letter names. She couldn’t write more than a handful of words and her sentences, when writing, lacked all the small connector words.
Fortunately for her, in 3rd grade, she had a teacher that was willing to work with me and my methods and we got my daughter reading! Meanwhile, I had my girl’s cognitive and learning abilities tested. I knew from the testing what was going wrong and what was working so I knew how to work with her. Getting that assessment was a game changer. And guess what? The testing showed she was brilliant but had a visual auditory integration disorder, one of the facets of dyslexia. Once we provided her the help she needed, she reads and writes at a very advanced level with no signs of a learning disability.
Autism to ADHD
Every part of figuring out if your child has a special need, from autism to blindness to dyslexia to ADD/ADHD, starts with knowing the milestones. Learning and communication disorders are vast and varied. Anything from a simple sound disorder to severe intellectual and developmental delays. As we move through the homeschool journey we will be learning about the different disabilities and how to incorporate the curriculum to meet various needs and still make learning fun.
Hi there everyone! I’m Lynda and I’ve been homesteading my whole life. I’m your special education resource for all levels of need. I’ve been a speech and language pathologist for almost 27 years now and have worked with children of all needs and disabilities from severely handicapped to autism to students with mild articulation issues