Homeschool vs public school for autistic kids: Which one is the best option

Are you a parent to an autistic child and looking for the best schooling option that meets their needs? With more parents deciding to homeschool their children, it’s important to understand how homeschooling compares against sending them off to public school.

In this blog post, we will be discussing the pros and cons of both homeschool vs public school. Plus, we’ll advise on what could be the best option for your child in the spectrum. This will help you have a better understanding of which type is most suitable for them, so keep reading!

Pros and cons of homeschooling vs public schooling

The debate between homeschooling and public schooling is one that’s been going on for generations. Both have their pros and cons, which can make it difficult to decide whether one type of education is better. If you’re looking to arm yourself with the good and the bad of each option, here they are:

Two young women in front of the public school bus

Pros of public school for autistic kids

1. More socialization opportunities

Most people know that homeschool can be an increasingly popular option for parents of autistic kids. However, it’s critical to consider that public school still remain the best chance to interact with peers. Autistic kids in the public school system are often encouraged to join clubs, sports teams and even pursue after-school activities. This means that everyone has plenty of opportunities to meet new people or cultivate existing friendships.

Interacting with classmates and participating in group activities during recess or lunch is really helpful. It teaches them immeasurable life skills in team-building, communication and interpersonal relationships that are invaluable as they reach adulthood.

Additionally, public school environments typically offer autism-friendly spaces like sensory rooms to regulate comfortable levels of sensory input. Which is great because it allows them to relax when socialization is too stressful.

2. There are autism programs in public schools

Many schools have programs that have specific interventions and educational resources tailored towards helping those with autism. In some cases, these might involve working with professionals and teachers to ensure an individualized education plan for autism.

With these programs, students with autism can interact more successfully with their peers and confidently participate in everyday activities. Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to helping these children succeed, many public schools are taking the necessary steps to provide support and assistance when needed.

3. Access to extracurricular activities

Schools allow kids to join activities that span from sports and debate clubs to theater and robotics seminars. The diversity of options allows all students – from “techies” to creative types – to find something they are truly passionate about.

This is great because it keeps them engaged in something other than academics, giving them time for exploration and self-discovery.

4. Access to educational resources

Public schools also have higher levels of resources. They often have dedicated libraries and computers, which give students access to more information to expand their knowledge.

Additionally, they have the ability to arrange for special field trips and guest speakers who can broaden the students’ understanding.

5. Specialized teachers

When it comes to students with special needs, specialized teachers can be extremely beneficial. ASD classrooms typically include instructors who are trained in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA methods are designed to help individuals manage behaviors related to social communication, sensory sensitivities, focus and more. This type of instruction is just not practical for the average homeschool environment without more specialized assistance.

Public school teachers also possess greater experience and expertise when it comes to accommodating unique educational needs.

public school for autistic kids

Cons of public school for autistic kids

1. Peer pressure and bullying

Autistic kids often find themselves in a situation where they are more exposed to peer pressure and bullying. School settings create more likelihood for some students to make fun of others who don’t fit into their social standards.

On the other hand, public school doesn’t allow each child to progress through their learning journey on their own terms. They tend to be forced into uncomfortable topics.

2. Rigid schedule

Schools have stricter schedules because the environment needs to be structured in order for there to be a successful learning experience. Teachers need to keep track of more students at once and need their lessons to run in an orderly manner.

Teachers have curriculums and lesson plans that need to be followed to meet standards. This can at times make it difficult for special needs students to keep up in the classroom. So, though autistic kids thrive with a routine, being forced to follow something they don’t like can be hard for them.

3. Lack of accommodations and individualized attention

Although there are many schools for kids with autism, not all public schools have the right accommodations. The reality is that most public schools are often overcrowded. So, while the faculties do their best to include everyone, this is not always possible.

In public schools, autistic kids can face a large and overwhelming classroom. Additionally, not all public schools have autism-friendly spaces.

A mother tutoring his son

Pros of homeschooling autism

1. Flexible schedule

With a more individualized approach, homeschoolers can tailor learning to their particular needs and interests. This allows them to learn differently and at their own pace in a much safer and flexible atmosphere.

Homeschoolers are also able to schedule activities without the common disruptions usually encountered by students in a traditional classroom setting.

2. Individualized curriculum

There are many homeschool curriculum for autism, which can be tailored to your kiddos needs. That’s why homeschool offers a greater degree of personalization in the learning criteria. This makes it easier to accommodate the specific needs of their autistic student. With homeschooling, parents and educators can go at their own pace to ensure understanding is being achieved.

3. Serene environment

Homeschooling provides a distraction-free space in which the individual can learn without competition or fear of judgment or misinterpretation. This relaxed atmosphere helps to ease anxiety and stress, allowing kids to focus on their studies without worry.

Plus, for some autistic kids, particularly those who are non-verbal, homeschooling can be a wondrously liberating experience. It brings forth an opportunity to explore their strengths in an environment free from criticism and rigid expectations.

4. Controlled socialization opportunities

One of the reasons homeschooling works so well for children with autism is that it gives more controlled socialization opportunities. Oftentimes, these children struggle in traditional classrooms due to the sensory overload and peer pressure.

When homeschooled, the learning environment is tailored precisely to the student’s needs, allowing them to take breaks whenever they’re needed, learn with fewer distractions, and practice socialization in small doses as determined by their parents.

A young child sleeping above her notebooks

Cons of homeschool for autism

1. Lack of structure and routine

Homeschooling can provide countless wonderful opportunities for autistic children, but it sometimes lacks in providing structure. By nature, homeschool allows students to learn at their own pace and in their own way, which can be liberating. However, it can contribute to a lack of structure and routine that autistic children need in order to thrive.

This disconnect between structure and routine makes creating a homeschool plan infinitely more difficult than when considering traditional school environments.

2 .Burnout

The amount of planning and coordinating that goes into providing an individualized learning experience for your child can often be quite strenuous for parents. A lack of guidance from educators can also lead to burnout. This is because parents struggle to keep up with the increasing workload, or find themselves drowning in a sea of resources with no idea what activities or materials are the most beneficial for their child.

3. Less education experience

Not all parents have the knowledge and resources to homeschool their kids. Many parents don’t see that parenting and teaching are not the same. So, the lack of teaching skills can affect their kiddos homeschool experience.

public school vs homeschool

So, how do you pick?

Choosing between homeschool and public school can be challenging, and there’s no right answer. The decision actually depends on you, as a parent, and on your kid preferences.

In this sense, many kids thrive in a public school environment. If that’s your case, just make sure to find a school that complies with your kiddo’s needs. Find one that has an individualized education plan for autism and that offers other resources like therapies.

If, in turn, your kiddo feels more like being homeschooled, it’s okay too! But bear in mind the cons of this type of education and take steps to avoid them. Find a tutor if you don’t feel like being able to teach and create a good structure. All in all, just make sure to make the best decision for your family!

In our case, we choose to homeschool our kids. In fact, I recorded a podcast with me and my kiddos talking about it! You can check it out here. And, if you want to keep learning about autism, don’t forget to visit our blog section.

Related articles:

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5 Tips to Create the Best Autism Classroom Setup

How To Encourage Autism Inclusion In Kids

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