Many parents of children with disabilities begin working with state or school programs at birth or right after. We begin with the ECI program and when our children are 3, we might move on to PPCD within the public school system.
Public schools can be great, and we hear lots of good stories and benefits for our children. But along the way, we also hear the scary stories and know about the bad experiences. We hear or live through IEP and ARD fights and the stories of poor treatment of our children – all the things that we believe the public school system should have or could have done but never did.
We all feel like there is nothing we can do. More parents are turning to private schools to get their children the education they need. Charter schools are required to accept children with disabilities. But few are equipped to educate them. Many of us can't afford private school and don’t have access to charter schools, so the number of children who are homeschooled is increasing.
There are advantages to homeschooling. Parents control what and how their child learns, therapy times are easier to schedule, and there is time for "extra" therapies. There are disadvantages, too. Many parents are scared about trying to figure out what to teach their child and worry about their kids not having time with friends and other children of the same age.
Social media is a big help for parents who are homeschooling. It lets parents have the chance to meet other parents. They can discuss what has and has not worked. It also lets many parents learn about ways to get their children into the community and how to focus their education in a way that's best for them.
Don't worry if this all sounds difficult. There are many websites – including virtual parenting groups – to help guide you along the way if you decide you would like to homeschool your child.
Whatever you decide to do, remember there are options. There is no one right way to educate your child. Do your research, don't be afraid to try, and finally, do what works best for you and your family.
You can learn more about your school choices on this website under School Choices for Children with Disabilities. There is also a Texas Home School Coalition Association where you can learn about home schooling.
By the time May rolls around, most parents are counting down the days to summer. But before the school year ends, make time to ask your child’s teacher these important questions about how to best support your child in the classroom.
If your child goes to college, you’ll find that there are differences in how education for a student with a disability is handled.