It’s much easier to homeschool a kid who is like you than a kid who is different than you. But then, that’s true in all of parenting. We are best at guiding kids who want to go where we want to go.
Homeschooling my son with autism is not so scary because I also have autism. I know he wants routine and quiet time. He wants someone to talk to but not too much talking. He wants huge amounts of reading time and control over what he reads. He doesn’t like groups.
I am the same. My best days are sitting on the sofa with his legs resting on mine, reading different books together.
My younger son is very social. You know how there’s a downside to every upside? The reason he’s so good at cello is because he’s not only great at the details of cello—many kids are—but he also adores performing. He could perform all day. Life, in fact, is just one big performance for him. Which means he needs an audience.
At first I thought this was just messed up. Because it’s so different from me. But then I studied personality types and I realized that he is just a classic ESFP. There are sixteen personality types and this one is the performer. It’s how he’s born.
So a difficult part of our homeschooling is how to meet the needs of a very social boy in a family of largely anti-social people. Here’s what I’ve done.
1. I talk with him. He wants me to listen to him and acknowledge what he’s doing. This is typical for kids. It’s just that he likes it more than most kids. So I give myself rules for how to best acknowledge him verbally and that helps me talk to him more than I would choose to, but still do it in a productive way.
2. I set up lots of playdates. I have a few kids whose schedules I know well with moms I can email. This means that setting up playdates doesn’t require ten emails and five phone calls. It turns out that a social kid ends up teaching a parent to be more social. It’s predictable that I’d figure out a way to do it with the least amount of talking.
3. I try to understand him better. Being social looks so weird to me. The need to be in groups seems exhausting. Even though the kids and their parents bug me — I mean, I’d rather just be alone reading and writing. I tell myself that to my son, showing love is being social, and so that’s what I have to do with him.
And, by the way, this issue doesn’t change if you send your kid to school. School is not a place where kids get to talk and express themselves freely. And it’s not like the need to show love to an extraverted, social kid changes if you are not around. It just means you need to cram all that into the four hours when he is home from school, instead of having twelve hours a day to spread it out.