By Kodey Toney
Burning Down The House
Over the years I've talked to parents who are debating on whether or not to homeschool their child. They ask whether I think they should keep them in school or not. I want to give my opinion on the situation, and keep in mind it's only an opinion.
I recently had a couple parents ask me about the homeschooling situation, and what would be best, but I also had a parent ask me about her young child and whether to keep them in daycare or to put him in a head start program. These are big decisions and they'll make a huge difference in your child’s life, so I think you shouldn't take them very lightly.
The number one reason most people want to take their child out of regular school and keep them at home is that they're having issues with the school. While this is a valid problem, I would like to explain that it doesn't have to be that way, or at least it shouldn't be that way. You can have an advocate, such as myself, or an outside advocate such as the Oklahoma Parents Center help with the situation. If necessary, the Oklahoma Disability Law Center is also available for legal advice and advocacy. These are all free services that we offer, and if you have any questions on this feel free to contact me at my firstname.lastname@example.org.
The schools have certain criteria that they have to meet and they have stick within the laws. This is where an advocate can help, especially if you feel like you're being intimidated. Even if you're not, bringing in an outside source can sometimes help with the negotiation process. You can also help bring in fresh new ideas that both sides may not have thought of to help your child.
You have to remember when dealing with autism, or any other developmental disability, the social aspect is one of the most important concerns. This is one of the things that define autism, and one of the things we're trying to help the child with. If we take them out of that social environment then we're really doing them a disservice.
If may seem like you’re helping by pulling them out of that environment in some situations, and I'm it is possible that under certain circumstances that may be true. Look at the overall issue. Is it something that could and should be fixed within the system? if the answer is yes then you need to reevaluate your choice. If the system that is a problem then that needs to be taken care of because you want your child around as many people as many peers as possible.
Don't forget that eventually in life they're going to have to go out into the real world, and how they interact with others is going to make a big difference in their overall quality of life. If they can't interact because they haven't had the social skills then keeping them at home, away from others, is not the way to go.
This is why I work so hard for inclusion in the classroom. We have to allow children with low social skills to learn from their environment and peers.
For the child going into head start, I listened to the situation. The daycare that they are currently in has a classroom aspect to it with interaction among the child’s peers. If this is an option it’s not necessarily a bad one. The child will get more one-on-one with an adult, and still have peers to learn from as well.
The last part of the equation is you as a parent. You love your child unconditionally, and you love your child so much that you're willing to stay home and teach your child. You are willing to be with them 24/7. You feel like this is the safest thing, and that's a parental instinct. I understand this, but you have to understand that you need time for yourself. If you are with the child all the time with no breaks it's going to cause you to burn out.
I heard Ashley Lincoln from the Cherokee Nation speak last Thursday in our parent support group, and she reminded me of something that is very important to parents of children with disabilities. When you get on an airplane and they go through the safety precautions they talk about the oxygen masks dropping. The first thing they tell you is to put the mask on yourself first and then your child second. You have to save yourself in order to save your child. Think of that when you're talking about being with the child all the time. You have to have some time to yourself. It’s easy to get burned out with your child in school.