St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What Catholic Homeschooling with Autism looks like, Part II

I’m jumping ahead to what our yearly curriculum with my son with autism looks like.  Please keep in my mind my son is verbal (he was a very late talker though, age 4) and he is considered gifted in reading/vocabulary. From Part 1, I expressed how we use Mother of Divine Grace, so I will outline that curriculum here and how we’ve integrated a well rounded program with respect to his special needs:

Third Grade Modg courses:

Religion: Baltimore Catechism No. 1 and Knecht Bible stories: The Knecht Bible story retellings are somewhat elevated language for a young student, but nicely done in small featured salvation history bible stories, so the language is not wasted as they learn important scriptures as well.  Further, the way Modg uses it, it incorporates retelling, copy work and illustrating on behalf of the user.

Abeka Math 3 – it is a challenging book and a leap from 2nd grade math, and my son is moving through it much slower than in 2nd grade, but with patience, he’s doing really well with it.  I like it because it introduces variety like algebraic equations, but continues with the basics and lots of practice.

Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl: Language arts:  We use a work book format[1] of this same reproduction and love it.  It’s perfect for a special needs child because it removes the frustration of writing in a separate notebook, and has all the “right” therapeutic communication and language practices  in it to make it well worth it’s weight in “no co-pay” for speech therapy right now.  Not just writing and learning grammar…oral lessons in observation and conversation are important features in this book, and in fact invaluable to us with a child’s communication glitch.

Writing Road to Reading:  the book everyone loves to hate :)  With Modg it is only used at this grade level for spelling and furthering phonics reinforcement.  It works!  And it’s not difficult to use although some try to make it so.  IF YOUR CHILD has trouble using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons…I suggest you switch to teaching them to read with the WRTR method instead.  Chances are they are having trouble decoding, and need the small rudimentary breakdown WRTR provides to move them to understanding decoding.

Our American Heritage: an Abeka history publication, nicely done biographies. For students who need more saturation of work to accompany it, there is a Map Skills book and the teacher resources, tests, and key to go along with the program.  A nice introduction to early history with this book.

Exploring God’s World (Abeka Science).  A nicely done book with enough important information and support materials with a Christian view.

Poetry memorization: selections from The Harp & the Laurel Wreath

English from the Roots Up: Greek & Latin root cards: for beginning Latin, and vocabulary building

Music, Let’s Learn Music, Hayes; and listening to classical masterpieces

Art: Child-Size Masterpieces series


Okay, in addition to those things listed above, we add in art play with play-doh, so lots of occupational therapy opportunities.  We do water coloring painting also.  There is plenty of drawing already built-into the program with bible stories and Primary Language Lessons.

We like Klutz’s Watercolor: for the Artistically Undiscovered

I also use Model Me Kids DVDs, with follow-up with practice opportunities.  Right now we are working through the Model Me Kids Tips & Tricks that helps with social skills, along with the actual workbook that goes with it.  My son needs help in these areas on a regular basis at every level and likely for many years.  It makes sense to work with at home right along his school work on these areas so he gets them more often.

We also make it a point to attend “classes” to provide some kind of outside structure with a rhythm to it that my autistic child needs to learn to participate and not get thrown off by being assimilated into a situation.  So, we go to a weekly home school co-op, as well as attend the religious education classes at our church on the weekends.  I find these situations VERY important to helping instruct my child in the proper way to conduct’s oneself in a group setting, with a focal point: a teacher.  Children with special needs often do not zero in on what’s going fact, they seem to “not be there” in the class.  They could easily be accused of not paying attention, acting up and misbehaving when really, they simply need help “processing” and need to actually learn how you go about that.


Another thing I like to address before we “do school” is getting ready for processing by stimulating our brain gym…or brain buttons.  We learned this in our therapy sessions, and it’s something widely used and available …so you don’t have to go to therapy to teach your child to turn on their brain buttons!  Follow this link for more details:  Brain Gym/Buttons


So you go to a therapy facility and you wonder where YOU can obtain that great large sensory ball your child likes to sit and bounce on…or that weighted vest….You can purchase your own sensory items for use in your home and what a great asset these items are for your special child as you attempt to “do school” with them daily.  We use a large sensory ball EVERY DAY…my son would not be without it.  We use a therapy brush for the skin also.  Many children with processing and comprehension difficulties can benefit from sensory helps. All these kinds of items can be purchased – you do not have to be a “facility” to do so.  One such provider is: Sensory Goods

While my children get outside most days, at least one day a week we attempt to walk out to the park for instructional purposes, and get outside for proper outdoor refreshment and learn appropriate outdoor behaviors.  When children, especially those on the spectrum, aren’t given the right situations to practice their social skills and behaviors, they don’t progress, so getting out and practicing is something we strive toward.  It takes a lot of repetition. No matter how tired, or how many kids need to be dragged along….it’s important to focus on the child who needs the work.  We only have this chance once….It’s hard work for sure, but who else is going to do it?  And are they going to do it when it’s getting too late in that child’s life??

It is VERY easy and doable to incorporate a mixture of appropriate therapy, therapy items to help manage them in the home study environment better, and academics into a spectrum child’s life. 

While I have four children in all, I have two sons with varying degrees of needs,ages 13 and 9, and I am addressing those that may be higher functioning, but with sensory or processing difficulties that make life challenging. 

Please feel free to email me with questions or left comments.  I’m glad to share with you and answer questions.

Part III, to follow:  you prefer a non-Catholic curriculum, a protestant view, or secular


[1] Primary Language Lessons Workbook format


Chris said...

I have got to get back here tonight at some point and read your pots thoroughly. They looks so interesting. I have been on the run with my online activity this week and haven't had a chance to take in a few posts that I really want to spend time with. These are among them.
I don't have an autistic child, but I get the sense that I will benefit from your tips and your wealth of info, regardless.
Thanks for sharing.

Have a great day.

Home School Mom: Denise said...

Hi Chris, thank you so much for your comments! I really want others to know they can home school their spectrum children. Even some of the more lowering functioning spectrum children have benefited from in-home programs and with so much available today in the way of school materials and therapy helps, you can design your own program in the home. Not to take the place of professional therapy...and evaluation..but perhaps to pick up where there is an insurance gap you can't afford, or to take a break...Anyway, just trying to raise more awareness! God bless!