Ok, this is a long post and I don't have spell check on this computer.
You are about to see how bad of a speller I really am:)
I started answering questions in a huge, unorganized post.
I think I'll answer them in smaller, topical posts.
That way if anyone else has suggestions, they can list them too.
Even if you don't homeschool or have a child with the same issues, you may still have good tips.
You mentioned your one son is autistic. Do you have a special curriculum for him or refer to any books or websites to help yourself along this path with him? Does he have private therapy he goes to (like speech or OT?) And lastly, do you find it difficult at times to homeschool a special needs child?
David has Asperger's Syndrome.
(it is like mild, high funtioning autism)
Alex has Dyslexia.
Special Curriculum: No, I do not have special curriculum but I do modify one. I pare down what we are learning to the basics as much as possible. I also pull in David's interests. David has always loved to draw, to dress up in costumes and build with legos. I used to incorporate them into our lessons as much as possible. We don't need to do that as much any more. Some of that had nothing to do with his Asperger's and more to do with getting a boy to pay attention to his lessons.
It is important to know what is grade level appropriate, but I try to remember to not be a slave to it. Clearly, what was age appropriate helped me to know that Alex needed to be tested for Dyslexia. But other skills are not as pertinant to the age. David likes to write in all caps. He can write properly, but it really annoys him. I choose not to fight that battle now. I may not teach him to write in cursive. I'll teach him to read it, but right now it isn't important even though most 4th graders can write in cursive. That may not be the best eaxmple...just one I could think of off the top of my head.
Thier needs are why I teach them at home.
The Asperger's heightens David's logic and artistic ability.
Dyslexia has heightened Alex verbal skills, comprehension and expression.
There is a definate upside to their specific diagnosis that makes teaching certain things easier.
That's right, I am saying there are very positive things about thier issues as well as struggles.
And both are fairly mild in their dianosis. However, I forget to make allowances sometimes and that is where it gets hard.
Daivd went to speech and OT for 3.5 years. It helped some. I learned a lot from watching OT. They said it was therapy to help him fit into regular environments. But the stuff they did didn't look regular. It looked wierd. I thought, dude, if you didn't know David had issues when you met him....I bet you'd think something was up when I started brushing his skin or rolling a heavy ball across his legs. I started coming up with "regular kid" ways to do OT at home. Swing set, trampoline, indoor trampoline, a heavy beadspread, a punching bag, pillow fights, regular big hugs and back rubs. It isn't a perfect system...but it is working for us. He mostly just leaves the room if he needs a break from sensory simulus. He goes and draws or builds legos and shows back up 30 minutes later refreshed. He can self moniter now because he has the freedom to respond to his sensory needs. The therapists were so into helping him cope with a classroom environment. I said, hey, a classroom is a temporary part of life. How about getting life coping skills instead? We later joined a socialization group. It was ok. Once again, I learned by watching the therapy. I used things they did there to practice a more specialized plan at home. I always stayed for therapy and observed it because I knew that no mater how invested in my child the therapist was, they would never understand his issues and daily routine as much as I did.
The best therapy he ever recieved: having siblings. Talk about having to deal with sensory input!
The best thing we ever did to help him self regulate...which was the goal for the therapists...was taking him out of the constant stress of the classroom environment. When he wasn't having to deal with that all the time, he had breaks from the sensory stimulus and was able to recognize what bothered him. He now can avoid it, take it in small doses or use some of his coping mechanisms.
Asperger Syndrome in the Family Liane Willey wrote this book. She actually has Asperger's Syndrome and can articulate what it feels like very well. Fast read. 172 pages. I underlined a lot in this.
Asperger's Syndrome: A guide for parents and professionalsTony Atwood is kinda considered THE authority on Asperger's. This book is a little dryer. I guess it has to be...you know, for the professionals. 200 pages.
A Parent's Guid to Asperger Syndrome & High Functioning Autism I didn't underline anything in this one...which makes me think it was recommended to me and I never read it. However, so much of the diagnosing is based on parents sharing stories. I found it helpful to read several books until I read stories that sounded like my kid. Some kids have more behavior issues. Some are more attention realted. Some are very sensory.
Parenting a child with Asperger Syndrome: 200 Tips and Stratagies This lady wrote a book about her son and what she did to help him. He doesn't have the issues David has but there were some helpful ideas in her daily plans. I underlined stuff. 188 pages.
Driven to Distraction David doesn't had ADD. He has Asperger's. One of the symptoms is he, at times, easily distracable. We do not treat the ADD because it is a symptom. We treat the Asperger's. However, reading about ADD helps me cope with it when I see it in him. It isn't a big issue, but I figured teaching 3 boys....I might need to know a little bit about it.
The Out of Synch Child This book and The Out of Synch Child has fun (Activities) are great for kids with Sensory issues. I've had a few people say that their kids were quirky or didn't fit into a classroom and then found this book helpful. The most valuable thing I got from this book: every day is different. Some days issues are a big deal and some days they aren't. The kid isn't trying to be difficult. And this book made me more of a student of people in general. WE ALL are on the sensory scale somewhere. Nails on a chalk board anyone? Yeah, a sensory thing. It helped to understand people in general more.
A Mind at a Time I saw Dr. Mel Levine on Oprah years ago. This book really is amazing. It changed the way I think about education. He is a Developmental Pediatrician. He points out things like the fact we expect our children to excell in all subjects, get along with 30 kids all day, learn in 1 or 2 styles only and do well in sports all at once. And yet when we are adults, we get to specialize in areas we are good in. No one expects an adult to be good in all the areas. Ok, he explained it better....but a really great book. I underlines LOTS in this book.
Other books that I enjoyed:
Life Skills for Kids
The Five Love Languages for Kids This is based on my fave Marriage book: The five Love Languages
The New Birth Order Book Just plain interesting.
Warning: I read all these over a about 5 years. I underline stuff in them because I don't remember all the stuff I need to. I could not have processed all this information in a month. A few people e-mailed that their children had been diagnosed. Flip though the books in the bookstore. Read a few pages and see if you are connecting with the author. This can be emotional stuff to read at times and you want the book that is right for you. I also refer back to them at times and go...oh yeah. It is a lot to take in.
Also warning: After I read all these I was pretty sure I had Asperger's & ADD. I really am diagnosed with dyslexia.
Tomorrow I will take care of another question.
Let me know if you have any ideas to add or any more specific questions about Asperger's.