I have 12 year old daughter with Aspergers was diagnosed in 1st grade. Of course the school does accommodate her. My problem is this year she is in the 6Th grade. She is so very focused on social aspects, looks, makeup,closes, thinking she is fat(She is not fat) worrying about what is being said about her when she goes for breaks in the SPED room all of the things young teenage girls worry about but twice intensified due to the Aspergers. I worry about her getting depressed over all of this, you know kids can be cruel especially teenage girls. Would home schooling be a good option maybe at least until high school when she is more mature?
Your daughter is lucky to have such an understanding and empathic mother to help her through adolescence. It sounds like you have a very clear sense of how your daughter is interpreting and experiencing the adolescent world.
The adolescent period brings a number of simultaneous changes in pubertal and cognitive development, as well as a transition in focus from family to peer relationships. This is a challenging time for all adolescents, but it is especially troublesome for individuals with Asperger Syndrome who are also struggling with social and sensory issues.
Now that we understand what your daughter is facing, what can we do to support her through this challenging time? Homeschooling is a compelling option, but I am concerned about the potential for providing a structured environment in your home. Everything we know about children and teens with Asperger Syndrome is that they do best in a structured environment in which they know what to expect and easily understand what is required of them in each situation. You may be able to create this sort of environment at home, but I would invite you to consider this before making a decision.
Whether you keep your daughter in her current school or homeschool her, I think that she could benefit from learning more adaptive coping strategies for dealing with anxiety and the challenges of adolescence. Good coping strategies can help to inoculate her against depression and other emotional issues. Talk with your daughter about the pressing issues of her life, including looks, weight, and friends. Share your own experiences with your daughter and let her know how you coped with the hard times, what you would have done differently. Teach her relaxation strategies to use during the day, or at night before she goes to bed. Some useful strategies, include taking deep belly breaths when overwhelmed, visualizing a "safe" place, and practicing self-affirming statements (e.g., "I am loved! My friends and family truly value me). One book you may consider it called, Dealing with the Stuff that Makes Life Tough: The 10 Things that Stress Teen Girls Out and How to Cope with Them.
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Expert Panel
I have a 10 year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome who has many co-morbid conditions; I also am a former public school teacher. I am very glad I made the decision to home school my son and don't regret the decision at all. He has 90% less anxiety in is moving beyond his grade-level in reading and math. At first I was fearful, but now I am very thankful I followed my gut. I don't think you have anything to loose by giving home school a chance. You can always enroll your child back in the public school. Make sure you look into your state's homeschool laws and also check out the I.D.E.A. If your child has an IEP (Educational Plan) you might want to consider a Charter School, if one is available where you live.
I, myself, have many traits of an Aspie, and remember how difficult being a teenager was with the range of emotions I experienced and the challenges dealing with peers. Your daughter is lucky to have a parent like you who is looking into other options. I created a website with a lot of free teaching strategies to help parents with children on the autistic spectrum. I wrote many articles. I'm not trying to sell anything. Soon, there will be a contact page, and I'd love to know what decision you made and how your daughter is fairing. Good luck and best wishes in your decision. www.spectrumhomeschool.com
- Marcelle C.
I homeschooled my now 18 yr. old daughter for 6th grade for one year and wish I would had done it until high school. All your feelings and what your daughter is exposed to are very accurate. I have 4 kids one also being 12 yrs. old and a girl, who now wants to be homeschooled because of how the kids are at her school exactly the problems you described with your daughter. She wants to go back in high school. Additionally, I have a son who has AS as well. He was diagnosed in 1st grade also. I did homeschool him for three years and put him back in school in middle school. ( he is now in high school)He struggled alot with bullying. My concern with your daughter would be the hiper-focus (because of AS) she is having on the things you listed which of course will not contribute to her being a strong young lady in the future. With my AS son, positive social development is primary focus. If you keep that in mind you will feel confident in your decision to homeschool her. I will be homeschooling my 12 yr. old also next year.