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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pre-Homeschool Jitters

In the Philadelphia area, homeschooling in general is somewhat unusual and very tough: the state has so many requirements that many people are scared off. Including me, to be honest. Homeschoolers have to have their children take the same state tests as everyone else... they have to be evaluated by an outside "educational expert"... they have to follow the state guidelines almost precisely... with so many issues, I thought maybe private school would be a better choice.

So I looked into options.

Philadelphia has about 4 million private schools. Many are designated "special needs." Virtually NONE of those "special needs" schools would accept Tommy - with the exception of "autism only" schools. Since Tom doesn't really "need" a private placement, we would have had to pay for private school - and the autism-only schools START at about $40,000. What a deal. And even then, we felt, our problems wouldn't be solved: he'd still be dealing with all of the ups and downs of a sequestered life.

I thought about starting a school. Together with a few other parents, I did research, visited model schools, and started to put together a non-profit and a program. But our philosophies suddenly diverged.

I believed (still do!) that paying over a hundred dollars an hour for a therapist is unnecessary: it's perfectly possible to hire a therapist to create a program and then hire energetic, talented college students to actually implement the program. In fact - I've often found that energetic young people do MORE for Tommy than do highly paid, highly qualified therapists. The other parents disagreed.

I felt that the costs of our program should be kept low; they felt that highly-paid therapists were the key to success.

Long story short, we never started up that school. And I was back to researching homeschool.

Luckily for me, I met a woman named Marisol who homeschools her daughters in Philadelpha. Her older daughter has an Aspergers diagnosis, and so Marisol has been connected to what turns out to be an active autism homeschool community for many years. Through my local friend, I learned about Tammy Glaser and the Aut-2-B-Home listserve.

Tammy has been sharing her experiences and expertise with the community for many years - and has so much information to impart that it's almost overwhelming. I joined the listserve, and within one week had read over 200 posts on everything from supplements to reading programs to sensory issues and homeschooling!

It was too much! For the time being, I unsubscribed, and went back to my research.

1 comment:

The Glasers said...

Yes, Lisa, but you came back . . . And that is what counts!

Thanks for the plug! :-)

And, now, you are a bona fide homeschooler!