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Why Homeschooling Was the Right Choice for My Son With a Disability

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My son had a perinatal stroke when I was 6.5 months pregnant with him. He struggled with lots of behaviors as a young child who was not able to walk or talk.

I remember my son’s preschool years so fondly. All the teachers, his wonderful aide and the close-knit community came together to see all our kids succeed.  His teacher who was wholesome, sweet, gentle, kind, patient, and a whole bunch of other qualities rolled into one remarkable woman was just the person my son needed.

When he started preschool he had just learned to walk (just shy of 3 years old) and was nonverbal. He could use sign language, but not much. They got my son to do so many things!  From expanding his language to more signs, to spoken words, it was truly amazing.  And he didn’t have just a first word — he was a first sentence kid!  “I want more.”

Then we got to kindergarten and no kidding, that teacher’s bumper sticker said, “Kindergarten is bootcamp for life.” It was a complete change from preschool.

I’m including a photo of the seven, yes you read that right, seven times my son got a “Good Day” sticker in kindergarten. That’s seven out of 180 days.

When I think back to that year, I could literally go into the fetal position and cry and drink. Maybe not in that order as I’d hate to spill my beverage on the floor!

Every day when my son got on the bus after kindergarten, the teacher called me to say how bad he was. I remember asking her at one point, “Doesn’t he do anything right? Does he line up OK? Can he go to the water fountain OK? Can he sit in the circle OK?”

Her reply was that while he could, he could be better. As for circle time, he “could only sit for 20 minutes and she needed him to sit for 30 minutes.” She expected 30 minutes for a 5-year-old with disabilities? I was thrilled for 20 minutes!

Fast forward to spring and it was time for my son’s IEP — not just a regular IEP but his triennial, which was where we were to go over everything. Mind you we had monthly IEP meetings all year long, and at most of them, I was the only non-team member. (While I know I technically am part of the team, I never quite felt like it that year.) And their team consisted of over 12 members. Talk about nerve-wracking!

Placement for my son was not happening easily. We had two very different ideas on where he needed to go to school.  We met monthly from March until June just to talk about this point and still had no resolution. We met a few days before first grade and finally got the reply that he could remain in his school where his siblings attended.

And then six days into first grade we made the decision to withdraw him. It just was not working.

Not for us.

Not for them.

And certainly not for our son.

We became homeschooling parents overnight. And I’ll be honest, I was an angry homeschooler. I was downright livid. Pissed. Indignant. Outraged. Furious. Well, you get the point. My husband has always been incredibly supportive. He actually wanted us to homeschool our older children, so he was already on board with this life choice. It took me a while to get on board.

Our social circle has lent unwavering support. They’ve answered questions, made suggestions and cheered our son on when we’ve shared his victories.

So this once furious homeschooler is grateful for the amazing young man who I am blessed to call my son and with whom I can share so much time. You’ve been by our sides more than you’ll realize and I’m so grateful life turned out this way for us. And 12 years later, we’re excited to enter his senior year in high school this week!

Originally published: September 19, 2019
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