I am convinced that those feel-good quotes surfing social media sites were not written by parents of children with special needs. If they were, the parent(s) must have been having a particularly good moment (or a good glass of wine).
When we are given a diagnosis, and when we do the research, we aren’t given the details – the honest to goodness facts. We are given scary terms. General terms. Broad categories of difficulties we are to expect somewhere in our child’s future. Just facts that leave to the imagination what it could all mean. And, definitely, no feel-good quotes.
This post is not intended to discourage you. I’m sharing a sneak-peak “between the lines” that exists for our family. Then, I ask you to witness your “between the lines” and I promise to have a positive outcome for you – non-social media style.
1- What the medical reports state: “severe global learning disability”
What this looks like for us: Since our son has global developmental delays (not just a learning disability), we could not expect him to be at par with children his age. A severe global learning disability means that our child is behind in all subjects by several years (in comparison with peers). That gap will only grow wider as he gets older. We began homeschooling by looking at the preschool curriculum, but I needed to modify it entirely to meet my son where he is at developmentally – which is closer to a child of age 2 and younger for most tasks. In daily life, it means that our child depends on his parents or other adults for absolutely everything (feedings, bathing, hygiene, etc.)
2- What the medical reports state: “restrictive language skills”
What this looks like for us: Our son is considered to be non-verbal in that he needs support to communicate. In his daily life, as well as in homeschooling, we use ASL signs and PECS with him as much as possible. This means that we need to be repetitive and very patient with him as he learns the significance of a sign before he can begin to produce it.
3- What the medical reports state: “severely delayed psycho-motor development”
What this looks like for us: Psycho-motor development is the relationship between cognitive and physical movements. For my son, the severe delay in psycho-motor development means that seemingly simple tasks like holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, standing at an easel, playing a xylophone or throwing a ball require great effort and almost 100% support. That means that as his teacher, I’m doing a lot of hand-over-hand and plenty of prompting in order to train the brain to connect with his physical body.
4- What the medical reports state: “better receptive than expressive language”
What this looks like for us: This means that our son understands more than he can produce communication-wise. It means that there are meltdowns due to frustrations with not being able to say what his brain means. Our son becomes so upset with not getting his message across, he becomes self-injurious as a result.
5- What the medical reports state: “behavioral problems”
What this looks like for us: Mostly because of communication issues, our son’s frustrations manifest in the form of aggressions. As a family, we better manage the behaviors by tackling the communication issues first, but also by keeping him safe with protective equipment such as a helmet.
What are your “between the lines”? What does it look like in your home/ homeschool life as you raise a child with special needs? Go back and reread the medical/ psychological reports you received for your child and be honest about what the “between the lines” are for your child and family.
The good news is, you can have the know-how to manage your family life and your homeschool.
If you’d like some help with guiding your homeschool life while raising a child with special needs, I have an eWorkshop just for you. You will take action, begin organizing your home situation and make positive changes to your homeschool realities. The eWorkshop will take you from psychological report to a yearly homeschool plan. Click image below to learn more.