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Just Breathe

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Week Six of homeschooling complete. We have survived.

The weeks have gone smoothly with my middle schooler. He is so used to doing assignments in Google Classroom that there’s been barely a hitch all these weeks, and his schoolwork has kept him busy on average about four hours a day. This left me ample time to monitor my severely autistic teenager, who has been an absolute champ at rotating through stations in my house where we do work.

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By the end of the first week of homeschooling I’d received lesson plans for Justin that went into full force. Doing ABA, speech, OT and PT has been a bit challenging, but has revived skills I used with Justin many years ago. Ironically we’ve gone “Circle of Life” here because sixteen years ago I spent almost a year-and-a-half as his ABA teacher. We lived in Virginia then, which offered me scant hours of speech and OT, and no hours of core autism therapy. I got trained in the practice of ABA and worked with him about six hours a day until we moved to New Jersey and within weeks had more than thirty hours of instruction weekly in our home. No matter how challenging the coming months may be instructing Justin, nothing will ever compare to that period where I daily felt desperate that I wasn’t doing enough or doing it right. Whatever Justin gets out of this, he will be fine.

And I will be fine too.

It is an understatement to say it is not easy to homeschool your own child (homeschooling moms and dads everywhere, I salute you!). The first week I saw posts on Facebook by incredibly strong moms who were brought to their knees by 10:00 on the second day. I taught fourth, fifth and sixth grade for twelve years in DC and Virginia, and I can honestly tell you that teaching thirty students who are not yours is often easier than teaching your own. Add in that some of these parents are still trying to work from home or have to work outside their houses, have multiple kids, not enough computers, have elementary school kids who are more hands-on, or might have children with special needs who need one-on-one instruction (plus the meals!), and posts about “suspending” their kids are completely understandable.

I just want you to know you’ll get through this too.

None of us knows as of this moment how long this will last. One thing I do know however is that you’re going to figure out how to give your children what they need, even if it takes a few weeks in the process. Especially for those of us with severely disabled kids, don’t make yourself crazy trying to get to every assignment. The teachers at your child’s school are trained in what to do with them- most likely you are not. I can guarantee they are not expecting you to deliver services like they do, and they will be happy to see your child is doing something to keep skills in place and stave off regression. Do what you can. They will be okay.

You will too.

Parents, make sure you take breaks too, whether it’s exercising, a stolen show on Netflix, or just some wine you hopefully stocked up on in case the liquor stores close (heaven forbid!). Do your best, but be good to yourselves too. You will figure it out.

Take care of yourselves.

Eat chocolate if you have some.

Just breathe.

For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com

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