Homeschooling the Special Needs Child

Little Girl Doing HandstandI often hear parents complain that a private school won’t accept their child because of a special need. And there’s a mindset out there that special needs are so complicated that only a professional can teach these children. 

After all, isn’t special education a field that people specialize in? 

Specialize in Your Child’s Needs

Well, yes. But keep in mind that special education teachers need to know how to teach all children with any special need, including blindness, hearing impairments, physical disabilities, autism, emotional/behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and even gifted children. You only need to understand your child and his or her special needs. So go ahead. Specialize in your child! Learn as much as possible about the diagnosis given to your child. 

 Here are some resources to help you find information to best understand and help your child. It is definitely not an exhaustive list. There are tons of resources available: 

  • 12 Brain/Mind learning principles by Caine & Caine. Caine & Caine gather mind and brain research and apply it to learning and teaching. These principles can help you better understand how the brain works and how you can help it to develop more normally. It’s not information about a particular special need. 
  • IAHP. You may have heard positive or negative things about this organization. Most of the negative descriptions I have found in textbooks about them are based on false assumptions. Each time I run across one of these references, I just want to edit it! I personally have spent time at IAHP and met parents who have had great success helping their children with brain development. I myself have used their methods with my own children. I highly recommend this resource for parents of children from birth on!
  • Wrightslaw. Phenomenal resource on special education advocacy! Every parent with a special needs child should tap into this resource on legal options and advocacy! 
  • The Academy for the Advancement of Children with Autism. This is a list of resources for parents. 
  • Seek out specific resources for the particular issues or diagnoses of your child. But please be cautious of warnings against other resources. So often professionals give a quick glance at something new and innovative, or something unknown to them and give a recommendation based on that quick glance. You could be missing out on crucial help for your child. 

If Necessary, Get Professional Help!

When I homeschooled, we had a co-op of three families who shared in the cost of a tutor who came to our home for approximately 10 hours a week. I also paid a woman from our church to do some housework. It’s really important not to neglect self-care when homeschooling. You really can’t do everything and you might be surprised how a budget can stretch with a little effort! We had a great relationship with our local school district so if we needed material or advice, they were very willing to help. Not every homeschooling family has this opportunity. But tap into your local and virtual network. Know someone who can teach something virtually? Know someone who can teach a hands-on skill in your home? Know a math whiz? 

Yes, you can homeschool a child with special needs. Get help at home. Take care of yourself, and seek out legal and funding sources to make life more manageable. 

Do you have a specific question about homeschooling your child? 


About Christiane Marshall (35 Posts)

Christiane homeschooled from elementary to high school. She holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, and a Master's of Education in Special Education. She has taught in classrooms and tutored for more than 15 years -- and has an addiction to learning about new developments in brain research. For more information be sure to visit her site.

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  1. 1
    Wade Balsdon says:

    Thanks for sharing this Christiane. I am sure that this will bless m,any homeschoolers. :-)

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