Homeschooling child with significant cognitive impairments
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  1. #1
    Concerned Guest

    Default Homeschooling child with significant cognitive impairments

    I would like to hear from anyone who knows the laws with respect to homeschooling a child with significant special needs.

    The child in question is non verbal, and has multiple disabilities - autism, Fragile X, ADHD, and a significant cognitive impairment.

    Chronologically, he 8 years old, but, cognitively, he is about 2 to 3 years old. He has very few functional words, so he is essentially also considered to be non-verbal. He gets speech therapy, and ABA, to help him along with language development.

    Mom was homeschooling him for a while here in California. This was put to an abrupt end, because the school district claimed that the "homeschooling is not working, as the child has made no progress working at home with his parent". This claim followed testing done on the child by the district & resulted in him being forcefully placed in an SDC class for the severely disabled, with 9 other kids, a teacher and 2 aides.

    Thing is, Mom had worked very hard, and this lack of progress is absolutely not due to any lack of attention or effort on the part of the parent. The boy is just cognitively unable to progress, beyond the late toddler / early preschoolyears curriculum !

    The school district's solution is not to work miracles on this kid. Rather, it appears that they simply keep pushing severely impaired children up the grade levels, REGARDLESS of the child's academic abilities or proficiency, and eventually graduate them forcibly at age 18, with a COC. This is such a travesty because this child will probably regress even more, by being in an SDC classroom with 10 other kids and a couple of indifferent aides, as opposed to working one-on-one at home with his mother.

    Does anyone have any advise for the parents in this case ? How can they continue homeschooling this child who is cognitively unable to progress beyond a certain grade, despite a parent's best efforts ? Thanks in advance for any advise or help you may have for them.

  2. #2
    Sylvanus Academy Guest


    The Mom in question should join the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense) HSLDA: Homeschooling Advocates since 1983 They would be the best people to talk to about how to legally pull her child out and keep working with him at home. Good luck to her!

  3. #3
    Unregistered Guest

    Default Been there, man...

    I saw your post on a legal forum, too, and felt I needed to respond. Hope the situation with this child has been resolved. When we lived in CA, which was late 90s- early 2000s. My child, who has a very rare chromosomal abnormality, is cognitively impaired, etc. went thru the EI program, then we were advised to enroll her into a "special needs" preschool. I was already homeschooling her older sibling. We complied, but found her needs were not being met in the school. I protested in writing, had special IEP meetings, called everyone that I could. (Point being, you need to have a documented trail to your protest. You also need to be very well versed on proper treatment and education of your child.) Nothing changed at the school situation, so I called an Education Attorney - who accepted our case on contingency. Since my compiled information was so well documented, it was an easy case for the attorney. It took some time. We went through due process with the district, eventually getting a letter in writing before the case was over basically giving us "permission" from the district to homeschool - purpose was to absolve them from liability, but a major win for us.

    My advice for the parent: seek legal council. Become members of Home School Legal Defense Association. Make sure you are complying with the homeschool laws for the state. Become well versed on the proper treatment/education of your child - everything is available on the internet. There are "homeschooling special needs" books published - read them. An author, Sharon Hensley, is located in CA. You must become your child's best advocate. This is YOUR child, not the state's. You know what is best for your child. There is nothing that states anywhere that the parent must be certified teachers to know what is the best course of action for the child. School districts get cold, hard cash for every special needs child they enroll - twice as much as for a regular student. They will hang on for dear life to get that money. It is their job. Your child is not necessarily a child in their eyes - he/she is a number. Make sure you bring a visual to every meeting - a picture of your child that is large enough to be seen by everyone in the room (don't go overboard, it's just a visual aid). Be passionate, be knowledgeable, but more than anything be calm.

    Outcome for us is that we won the due process case. My daughter is 13 now, still cognitively impaired, we still homeschool. We no longer live in CA for employment reasons, but I know that no district has bothered us again. I am not a certified teacher, I have no formal training, and am a high school graduate. What homeschooling has done for us: I am able to directly impact the quality of life of my child - life skills, health skills, moral education that is directly in line with our family belief system. I am able to directly monitor her health and nutrition, since her immune function is not normal - being at home has prevented her from getting unnecessary illnesses. This goes way beyond mere academics. Since she has a rare chromosomal issue, and no medical "professionals" have been able to tell us about her life expectancy - I know in my heart that I have had the opportunity to enjoy our relationship and have done what is right for her. She has been in an environment where she is loved, respected, and has been allowed to thrive & learn at her own pace. Not conform to the cookie-cutter, "common core" standards of academic performance as in public school. To have that hanging over her head - she would always come up short & fail, in my humble opinion.

    I hope this helps in some way.

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