In this counseling answer:
“I suggest that you look into homeschooling and really do some research to find out what is available in your area and determine whether or not you will get the support that you need in order to be successful while still maintaining the ability to care for your other two children.”
Assalaamu `alaikum dear sister,
I want to address your thoughts about homeschooling your autistic child. Here is what you said in the post that described some of your concerns.
“I am thinking of homeschooling him, but because of the following reasons I am a bit hesitant to do so: 1. I do not have enough confidence to do this because all my time is already exhausted with my household chores and my other kids. I already know how a day goes with me and then I am just thinking whether I would be able to add any more duties for my schedule. Even though he is 5, I still toilet train him and he needs some help to feed himself and to dress himself.2. He loves to mingle with people and go outside. So I feel that if I homeschool him he would not get the opportunity to move along with people and go outside as much because I already have a 1-year-old.”
In response to number 1: you are correct in acknowledging that homeschooling can add more duties to your day. However, you would be exchanging one set of stressors for the new ones of adding this to your daily “work”. Consider both sides; you need to supplement and reinforce your child’s education if he goes to public school, and you will need to take time out of your day to spend with the teachers and work with them in order to ensure that your child is truly getting the attention and learning environment experience that he needs. When your child has problems in school that will also take your undivided attention.
With that said, it can likely become very overwhelming if you try to take on homeschooling all by yourself without any support. And, it might be impossible to do it unless you get help with your household chores. If you decide to homeschool your child, I suggest that you:
- Get yourself into a support group with other mothers who have children with autism;
- Get help with the housework;
- Utilize an established homeschool organization that provides help and support to families who are homeschooling their autistic children.
You can likely get some resources from your regional center. If you have these supports in place, you may find that you have a better time for it overall.
In response to number 2: If you connect with support groups as I have suggested, you will be able to find other mothers who have children and you can organize days to connect. Most homeschooling programs now also include a socializing component and these often include the entire family which can be nice, especially if you have a baby. Work with your child’s school and the regional center and ask them for information about a homeschool structure that includes socialization.
Some additional thoughts: Sometimes the biggest stressor that mothers with small children have is undetected. This stressor is isolation. In contemporary society communities families do not really spend much time together and we are becoming distanced from our extended family for a variety of reasons. There are, however, mothers groups springing up across the globe where mothers make a concerted effort to gather together and become friends and support each other.
If you cannot find one in the masjid, don’t hesitate to find one outside the masjid. Naturally, you will likely feel even more at home if you find some Muslim sisters to meet with regularly, but if you cannot, then it won’t hurt you at all to meet other moms. In fact, it is healthy to learn and share with each other while respecting each other’s beliefs and spiritual practices. What is most important is that you do not become isolated and that you do not feel alone in your struggles.
Also, consider how you will find time to reunite with your husband and spend time together as a whole family. This might require seeking out a very special person who is good with your children and having this person watch your children once in a while so that you can reconnect and strengthen the bond that you have with your husband. Feeling some emotional connection can help a woman connect with great strength that they may not even know that they had.
In summary, I suggest that you look into homeschooling and really do some research to find out what is available in your area and determine whether or not you will get the support that you need in order to be successful while still maintaining the ability to care for your other two children.
And see if you can also find support for yourself as a woman. If after doing the research, you find that you simply cannot get the support that you need in order to feel confident in pursuing this, then take some time to talk with your child’s teacher and see if you can get her to work with you on developing a more individualized program within the school for your son.
Please look at FEAT (http://www.feat.org) and ask them if they know of any advocacy organization in your part of Canada. I am aware that the TEACCH organization had provided services in Canada and they have participated in FEAT advocacy here in the USA. Either approach can be helpful. If you can get some intervention support from your regional center either in the home or in the school setting, that will make a huge difference for you. Sometimes you have to call and be very proactive in order to get the Regional Center to help.
I pray this is helpful to you as you contemplate your decision. May Allah be with you and your family.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. You are strongly advised to seek face-to-face counseling and consult your physician or therapist when making a drastic change in your lifestyle in terms of behavior, medication or diet etc.