What parents need to know about homeschooling their autistic children

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Homeschooling comes with plenty of challenges for kids, parents and teachers operating behind screens, but for kids on the autism spectrum, it can bring a difficult set of emotional issues too.

Psychologist Dr. Jan Charone-Sossin said schools are pushing a curriculum but not addressing the social and emotional needs of autistic children. 

“On the most practical level, I see parents in incredible stress trying to do homeschooling with their kids. These kids are being asked to Zoom classes, some of them all day long. They're being given more homework and harder homework than they were given [and all] with less teaching,” Dr. Charone-Sossin told Fox News.

“Schools might be making the mistake of trying to imply that they're doing the same level of education and they're not," she added. "It's not their fault, they can't. But I don't think we do kids any favors by asking them to play along.”

While changes in daily routines can affect all school-age children, they can be especially stressful on the autistic children’s social-emotional equilibrium.

Dr. Charone-Sossin said a 17-year-old boy with autism told her that school closings broke his heart.

“They don't have any other way of feeling OK, feeling like they're with other kids, and they're frightened,” she said.

Fears can become heightened when it comes to the unknown. Aside from struggling with distance learning, the unknowns about what society will be like after the coronavirus pandemic ends is taxing. To combat some of that extra stress and fear, Dr. Charone-Sossin tells her clients to create a Venn diagram so they can look at what school used to look like, what it looks like now and what it might look like in the future.

“We don't know yet what the differences will be, but we know in our world they'll be differences, and kids really have to understand that.”