Homeschooling the Child with Autism: Answers to the Top Questions Parents and Professionals Ask
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Homeschooling the Child with Autism

This practical, highly accessible guide answers parents' and professionals' questions about teaching children with autism spectrum disorders at home. The book helps parents decide whether to homeschool and guides them through the process of beginning and maintaining an effective homeschool program. All the essential questions are addressed, such as:

  • How do you know if homeschooling is right for you and your child?
  • Which homeschool program is best for the child's learning style and needs?
  • How should a family get started?
  • What is the best way to address social, behavioral, and organizational skills when teaching a child with ASD?
  • When should you transition back to a traditional public school setting?

The book also contains tips and suggestions from real-life parents who have successfully homeschooled their children with ASD and includes lists of helpful resources for homeschoolers.

Praise for Homeschooling the Child with Autism

"Practical advice and a wealth of resources.…This book provides a beacon of hope to families struggling with educational options for their child."
—SALLY OZONOFF, PH.D., endowed professor, University of California, Davis, M.I.N.D. Institute

"A must-read for parents and teachers who need guidance and encouragement while teaching children with ASD."
—CATHY STENZEL, mother of a son with autism


Patricia Schetter, M.A., is an educational consultant and instructor for the Special Studies in Autism program through UC Davis and the M.I.N.D. Institute.

Kandis Lighthall, M.A., is an educational consultant and teacher educator with more than 30 years' experience in special education.


The Authors vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Foreword xv

Introduction 1

1 Questions About Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) 3

1 What is ASD and How Do the Core Areas of Impairment Affect Students in a Traditional School Setting? 3

2 Is There Peer-Reviewed Research That Supports Homeschooling for Students with ASD? 12

3 Why Do Some Families of Children with ASD Consider Homeschooling? 17

2 Questions About Homeschooling 27

4 What Are the Different Types of Homeschooling? 27

5 How Do Parents Choose the Right Type of Homeschool Program for Their Child? 36

6 What Are the Reported Advantages of Homeschooling Children with ASD? 41

7 What Are the Challenges of Homeschooling Children with ASD? 50

3 Questions About Resources for Homeschoolers 67

8 What Supports, Resources, and Curricula are Available and How Can Families Access Them? 67

9 What Special Education Services Is My Child Entitled to If I Choose to Homeschool? 88

10 How Should a Family Get Started with Homeschooling? 91

4 Questions About Teaching Strategies 101

11 How Should the Core Deficits of Social Skills and Social Thinking Be Addressed? 101

12 How Can Social Opportunities Be Incorporated into the Homeschooler’s Day? 111

13 How Should the Core Deficits in Organizational Skills and Thinking Be Addressed? 117

14 How Can Interests Be Incorporated into Instruction? 131

15 How Should the Daily Schedule Be Designed? 136

16 How Can Parents Address Behavioral Issues? 141

17 How Can Parents Determine the Appropriate Accommodations and Modifications That are Necessary for Curricular Success? 168

5 Questions About Transition 179

18 When Should Parents Consider a Transition Back to Traditional Educational Settings or Programs and How Is This Done? 179

19 How Should a Family Plan for Transition to College? 185

20 What Are Other Postsecondary Options Besides College? 194

6 Questions for Homeschooling Parents 199

Interview with Janelle Lewis 199

Interview with Karen Crum 203

Interview with Connie Ajay 205

Interview with Michelle King 207

Interview with Ann Coe 208

7 Questions for Homeschooled Children on the Autism Spectrum 213

Interview with Ben—Age Eleven 213

Interview with Bobby—Age Thirteen 215

Interview with Katie—Age Fifteen 218

Interview with Ian—Age Seventeen 219

Glossary of Terms and Acronyms 223

Notes 243

Index 253



"This book will be invaluable to families choosing or considering a homeschooling option for their child with ASD. In an easily accessible question-and-answer format, the authors provide practical advice and a wealth of resources that will get parents started, support them through common challenges, and help them create a curriculum that meets not only the academic but also the social and behavioral needs of their child. This book provides a beacon of hope to families struggling with educational options for their child."
Sally Ozonoff, Ph.D., endowed professor, University of California–Davis, M.I.N.D. Institute

"This is an excellent sourcebook helping parents make informed decisions about homeschooling their children with ASD. Parents will learn how to schedule lessons across the day to incorporate social and academic learning in an environment that balances sensory and mental health needs. All parents, even those not considering homeschooling, will fi nd this book helpful, as it encourages us to foster active learning in the home environment."
Michelle Garcia Winner, founder of the Social Thinking treatment approach and speech language pathologist, San Jose, CA

"A must read for parents and teachers who need guidance and encouragement while teaching children with ASD!"
Cathy Stenzel, mother of son with autism

"I appreciated reading well-researched information on the home school experience that actually follows the rules."
Diane Youtsey, director of special education, Eureka (CA) Union School District

"This book is a ‘life-line’ to parents who homeschool children with autism. The authors have wonderful insight, recommendations, and thoughtful ideas for these parents."
Debbie Baehler, autism specialist, Lassen County (CA) Offi ce of Education