Category: Autism


High Functioning on the Spectrum

Create A Family Passion for Reading

Homeschooling with Autistic Children

Do you feel like every day is Autism Awareness day in your house?  Many parents feel this way. Rebecca Ruiz, past member of the Special Needs Advisory Board for HECOA says, "It feels even more so because we are homeschooling."

When you first take your autistic child out of public school you might feel scared and doubtful as Rebecca did, afraid that you might fail them. Read More…

Homeschooling Special Needs Conference

The dates for the 2015 HECOA Special Needs Conference are:  December 1-5, 2015

What is the cost?  Who can attend? How do I register?

You can join HECOA's Basic Membership for FREE and attend this conference for free during December 1-5, 2015.  Anyone who is home educating or contemplating home education is welcome to our membership.  Although the name of our organization has "America" in it, we have thousands of members from all over the world.  So if you do not live in the U.S., you are still welcome to join and attend.

Where do I find the live sessions?

Live sessions do not begin until December 1st.  All members will receive email notifications about the sessions, and you will be able to access them from your member dashboard.

What if I miss it? How do I catch the replays?

You can join HECOA's PLUS membership and have complete access to over 150 replays of sessions from all our online conferences for a full year. 


Family Simulations – Learning by Doing

Family Simulations: Learning by Doing – 
Education at home is not just about teaching children. It’s about the whole family learning, changing and experiencing life in a new way. Simulations are more than “pretend play” and are for the whole family. Instead of just reading about things why not experience it as a family? Read More…

Transcript Seminar

High School to College – 
*If you have a child entering middle school this year or higher (6th grade or higher), this workshop will have important college preparation information you will not want to miss!!  Does preparing your children for college absolutely terrify you? Are you wondering how you are going to get your kid ready for college? Can your homeschooled child even go to college? What are you going to do about transcripts? What is a transcript and how do you make one?  Read More…


Socialization Keynote

Socialization – the Big “S” Word! – 
In this presentation, we address the one concern that trumps people. It’s that one word that can take an otherwise pleasant conversation about home education completely sideways. This one word can move a parent who is sitting on the fence about homeschooling to choose against it, one that is new and frustrated with loneliness or taken back by the groups they have met, to send their child back to public school, and it can invoke fear and uncertainty in people. But in others it is the blessing they have been waiting for their entire lives, it can be refreshing and liberating. And unfortunately most homeschool leaders won’t even talk about it. It’s the big S word, SOCIALIZATION. And in this presentation, we are going to stop discrediting the feelings people are having about this – whether they are already homeschoolers, or just peering in from the outside. We will talk about that S word, once and for all!

Here is the replay of the September 8th KEYNOTE session with Dianne McLean.









Dianne McLean

Dianne McLean has been homeschooling since 2003. She has worked with thousands of homeschoolers and hundreds of homeschool groups to pioneer social activities, help form group policies with leaders, and participated in issues which affect the homeschool community as a whole. Her approach is always practical and effective. She also specializes in working with middle to high school level groups to help prepare for college entry and is familiar with the latest developments of Common Core and how it is affecting future college students. She directs a national support organization, Home Education Council of America; and has developed numerous other websites to help home educators in their efforts. Dianne has been leading seminars, webinars, and classes in an innovative online setting to offer live interaction no matter where you live in the world.



Making Sense of SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder

Those 3 words can throw a homeschool day completely out of whack! Especially if you homeschool a child who has sensory processing disorder issues.

We are all blessed to have senses- we can taste, smell, feel, and see, etc. and it helps us to enjoy the world we live in. For children with Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, everyday life is chaos because their brains do not organize the senses coming in correctly. Their brains "overreact" to the sense. It can cause a lot of discomfort for the child, makes it hard for them to focus, and can make parents crazy trying to figure out what is wrong with their child. Many times it can be confused with bad behavior, when in reality, the child is really struggling. There are many different symptoms and every child is different.

For children with SPD, a regular classroom can be torture. The fluorescent lights are too bright, the noise of all the children shuffling around is distracting, and heaven forbid the child have a wrinkle in their sock and can't straighten it out. These children need order and routine, quiet spaces, and room to move around as needed. It can be a huge blessing to be able to homeschool them, because many times , something that appeared as bad behavior in the classroom is completely turned around in the homeschool environment as the parents can work one on one with the child's special needs.  

Rebecca Ruiz, past member of the Special Needs Advisory Board for HECOA, has two children with varying sensory issues who are at complete opposite ends of the sensory spectrum.  "One of my sons can't stand loud noises, does not notice when he gets dirty or messy, hates to have his shoulders and ears touched, HATES socks and shoes, does not notice when his clothes are on sideways, gets hyper very easily, fine motor and gross motor skill delays, etc… " Rebecca says, "My other son gets very hyper as well, has no attention span, freaks out when he gets the least bit dirty and has to constantly clean his hands, face, or any other skin, his socks have to be on just right, no tags in the shirts, cannot stand having his hair washed, cut, or touched in general, teeth brushing is difficult at best, and nails being clipped, forget it!" You can bet the Ruiz family deals with a myriad of issues throughout the day.

When it comes to getting academic work done in the midst of all of this, it can be a challenge but it can be done.  Another wonderful gift with homeschooling is the ability to stop in between subjects and do a sensory activity, which helps the child to organize their brain and helps them to focus.  Keeping a list of creative activities on hand for these moments is helpful, and Rebecca has learned the hard way that she must actually schedule sensory breaks into her day.

Rebecca has a lot of fantastic ideas for activities that can be done without breaking the bank to help your SPD child.  Here are a few of the things on her list:

  • Use a picture schedule so children are aware of what’s coming next.
  • Take a sensory break every 30-45 minutes.
  • Incorporate sensory activities while completing schoolwork. These can be as easy as chewing gum, sucking on a straw, or using a fidget toy.
  • Try using a weighted vest for 15-20 minutes at a time, or a weighted lap blanket.
  • A seat wedge can be used to help with sitting down. Do not restrict children to only sitting.  Sometimes they learn best by walking around while you are reading to them; one of the beauties of homeschooling!
  • Sweeping, mopping, using the vacuum, playing a game of tug of war, mazes, puzzles, using shaving cream to practice letters, the list is endless!


Here are some additional activities for children with Sensory Processing Disorder which have been submitted by some of our other members :

     * Simon Says- use active movements such as balance on one foot, spin, crawl, walk on all fours.

     * Play-doh- You can make your own, there are a lot of great sites on the web with good recipes for make your own play-doh, or use store bought. They will love to squish it, roll it, use cookie cutters, etc.

     * Fill a bin with pinto beans or uncooked rice. Let the child play with cups and spoons or sand toys and feel the fun stuff in the bins.

     * Trace letters onto sandpaper then cut them out, let the child practice tracing the letters with their fingers to practice forming letters.