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Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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4.4 Home education

Some parents choose to home-educate their children. They may have tried mainstream and/or special school options, and found both to be unsuitable for their child. Their child may have had bad experiences or failed to progress, or parents may be using interventions such as Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), which cannot be readily implemented in school. Receiving formal education at home is often a lot less stressful and anxiety-provoking for the child because it is a familiar environment, and the day can be structured to suit their routines and interests. However, it can be more stressful and exhausting for parent(s), and is financially costly if paid employment has to be given up. Parents may also find it hard to obtain the necessary teaching materials and they may lack sufficient information about what the child should be learning. Parents undertaking homeschooling are not obliged to follow the National Curriculum, and this may benefit the child in the short to medium term, but difficulties may arise if the child ever wants or needs to take formal qualifications such as GCSEs and A-levels. Despite his regrettable experience of bullying, Alex is positive about his formal mainstream education, which has equipped him for university studies. Home education may be the best choice for some children, but it is not an easy option or one that all parents could manage.

In this video clip Arabella, mother of Iris Grace, explains why she took the decision to educate Iris at home:

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Activity 3 Home education

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Besides the potential drawbacks of home education just outlined, can you think of another important developmental opportunity that home-educated children are likely to miss out on?

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Discussion

All home-educated children, whether autistic or not, may lack opportunities for interacting and learning to socialise with other children, an important part of their learning and progression towards adulthood. However, it is possible to join a network of other home-educating parents and participate in organised outings or joint learning sessions. Some parents have even set up groups in their own homes to facilitate their child’s interactions. In this video clip Arabella talks about the Little Explorers Activity Club that she runs from home, bringing Iris Grace together with other autistic children for informal learning activities:

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