Our Homeschooling Experience
Discovering that your only solution is to homeschool can be scary,
but for my family it was the only solution that made sense.
 -Ava Hernandez-Knapp 10/05/2015
     I knew that my son wasn't like most children even before his first birthday, so when he was first diagnosed with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder in second grade, and at one point Asperger's Syndrome, I was worried about what this meant in the long-term. Like many parents in my position, I struggled with the district to get the services that my son needed to succeed, and at one point was told by the Special Education Administrator that because my son was testing high, and obviously learning, that they "couldn't justify the expense" of an in-class aid. My son was definitely learning, but again, like many parents in my position, I became his full time teacher and would re-teach him the lessons at home. The problem that I'd warned against first came to light in middle school, and then even more so in high school when the classroom pace intensified.
     What I had been afraid would happen, and the eventual result of him not having an in-class aid in elementary school (or even in 6th grade when I'd inquired for a third time),  was that my son never got used to doing the work in the classroom setting. Instead, he got to used to doing the learning at home.  So when the class pace became too rigorous in high school, and he wasn't able to keep up, he became depressed and frustrated, telling me in his own words, "I can't do it. I'm not smart."  Of course I knew this wasn't true, and no parent wants to hear those words coming out of their child's mouth. 
     My son uttered those words to me on a Monday, and it was on that Monday that I made the decision not to send him back. I was nervous when I began to wonder what my husband was going to think. I wasn't sure what I was going to say, though we'd talked about homeschooling when our son first began middle school. When my husband finally came home and saw how upset our son was, his reaction to my plan was such a relief. He pointed out that I've been teaching our son since he first started school, and who better to continue teaching him but me. I went to school that Friday to officially sign him out.
     I'd like to point out that I sincerely liked (even loved) many of my son's teachers at all of the schools he's attended, including his most recent. After taking an early retirement from Pharmacy, I worked as an employee at both his elementary and middle schools, developing longstanding friendships with the staff. The problem wasn't with the skill of the teachers. The teachers were amazing, and all so kind to my son. No, the problem wasn't that the teachers didn't care, or didn't want to help, the problem was, as some admitted, they just didn't know how. Just remember that teachers are people too, and despite any desire to help, in the end, you have to make sure you do what has to be done to meet the needs of your individual child. Please don't wait until the problem is too big to handle, and don't forget that you are not alone.
    For us, we're only just beginning, but already It's been very nice to see the difference in my son's countenance. He's more relaxed, and with only 30 minutes per subject, it's a more efficient school day taking into consideration the way our brains work. My greatest concern is socialization. My son had an excellent group of friends that he spent time with at school, but he rarely sees them these days. I'm looking forward to getting involved in a network with other parents that are homeschooling their teens. 
(UPDATE 1/18/2016: I'm having one heck of a time trying to create a local social network for homeschooled teens and/or pre-teens. I've found a few, but all for very young children. I'm still hoping to network with other homeschoolers in the cities of Crockett, Rodeo, Hercules, Pinole and El Sobrante.  Please contact me at : [email protected] so that we can start a local social network not just for our children, but for the parents as well. My son's personal interests are: Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, Visiting the Ocean, Going to the Movie Theater, and Video Games [of course]  It would be nice for him to be able to just hang out with kids who are going through the same experience.) 
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    Group Art Activities
    Once our network is established I would like to invite families to participate in art projects, including, but not limited to, painting, drawing, sculpture, and crochet. (Supplies not provided)
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    Group Lab Projects
    Occasionally the lessons require that we perform labs with our kids in the science portion of their education. It would be fun to do them in a group setting. If you're interested, please send an email to [email protected] and type, "Science labs," in the subject line.
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    Field Trips
    If you're interested in group field trips, please send an email to [email protected] and type, "Field Trips," in the subject line.