Sunday, August 11, 2013

When You Have a Diagnosis

 Last week I talked about homeschooling with kids who struggle academically and may be 1 or more grade levels behind. I will probably say more about that in the future, but today I want to talk about another concern that can greatly affect our homeschooling and that is when one of your children in diagnosed with something.

It might be something physical. Perhaps a child has a physical handicap. Maybe it's medical. Maybe it's emotional. It could be any number of things.

Cerebral Palsy
Tourette Syndrome (our personal diagnosis)

The list could go on and on and on and on. In fact, when you stop to think about it, it's kind of a wonder there are any "normal" children out there! If you are the parent of a child with a diagnosis of one kind or another (even if you are the one who did the diagnosing), it makes you more aware of how everyone has some kind of struggle.

And yet, we don't always see that. We might see another homeschooling family and be around them for 1/2 an hour and somehow in our mind we convince ourselves that they don't struggle. That their kids are smart and healthy and wow how easy they must have it!

But let's talk about how the rest of us live. (And I hope you are starting to realize that "the rest of us" is nearly ALL of us!)

If your child were in public school, you would have a team of people involved in your child's education. The school counselor, the principal, the special education teachers, a diagnostician, the OT, the classroom teachers, etc. There would be ARD meetings and 504 meetings and IEPs and all kinds of paperwork and legalities.

Education is so much more than academics. Little Bit learning to sew last year. 
On really trying days maybe a team of folks sounds good to you! On other days you feel blessed to have your problems be YOUR problems--with you and your spouse in control. I am of the opinion that public school resources are there to help. If you need them--use them! If it's an interference, don't! I don't think you should feel badly either way.

There was a time in our country when children who struggled probably weren't diagnosed at all. My dad tells a story about a family they knew and "the older boy wasn't right." Have you ever heard that expression? He probably had some sort of mental or learning problem. I asked my dad and he said, "You know, we never thought about it. We just knew he needed help and he wasn't like the rest of us." Yep. That's all they needed to know back then. The parents and family and even neighbors just helped the child however was needed. No doctors or psychologists involved. To a certain extent I still think homeschooling families can help their children however is needed. (Of course, if medical intervention is required that's another thing.)
That's my Dad sitting on the porch with his siblings and neighbors. 

It just means that your homeschool will not look like anyone else's. (And it probably never did to begin with.) I know we talk a big game about "who cares about grade levels" and all that jazz but the truth is those things are firmly entrenched in our way of thinking. I tried really hard the other day to think how educating my children would be if I never knew a thing about public school. My first thought was, "well, there wouldn't be grade levels and I wouldn't start and stop each year. We would just keep learning until they were 18 and graduated!" Then it hit me: Wait! They wouldn't stop at 18 and we wouldn't even know what "graduating" was! Boy are we stuck on public school traditions!

If you are the parent of a child who has a diagnosis of one kind or another, you just need to keep on teaching your child. We may say things like "she's in 4th grade" or "2 more weeks and our school year is over" but really and truly we just need to KEEP ON TEACHING and they need to KEEP ON LEARNING. They will make progress. They will learn. It just may not have anything to do with a school calendar or benchmarks or the scope and sequence or any of our other pre-conceived notions. Oh how freeing would it be to be able to shuck all that from our mind and just do what our child needs?



  1. Great thoughts!! Very true!

    We have a child with special needs, but his needs are severe enough that "educating" him will never be an issue (he is non-verbal with severe mental and physical limitations). His education will be simply therapy, and coming alongside the rest of us to be with us while we do school. Our challenges, thus, are quite different than families who have the challenge of giving lessons to a child with special needs. But God gives each family unique blessings and challenges!!

    Love the blog, as always!

  2. I have a daughter with dyslexia. When God called us to homescool we could never have guessed we would have a child with a learning disability, but boy, are ever thankful that He was leading us to do what would be best for her, even before she was concieved!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)