Leah joined our family from South Korea at the age of one year. She was considered a special needs adoption as she had some issues in her birth family. We didn’t really know what her special needs would entail, or if she would end up having any at all.
Right away we noticed some of her “quirks”. She would only use one side of her body at a time to do things like roll a ball back to us. When she clapped she would bang one hand against her chest instead of both hands together. She could army crawl around and was very flexible. Shortly after she arrived home we started the evaluation process with the local school district and then for many reasons we ultimately made the switch to private therapies.
She didn’t walk until she was almost 2 years old. Her speech was very delayed. We started seeing a speech therapist and she was eventually diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech. Apraxia is a motor speech disorder, which makes it challenging to plan and execute most sounds. Children with Apraxia have a wide gap between their expressive language and their receptive language (ability to understand). It basically means Leah understands much, but has a great difficulty expressing what she understands.
Now at age five her speech is coming along nicely. We have learned, and continue to learn many things from Leah. In some cases we have had to adjust our expectations, but more and more she is exceeding our expectations. It can often be a practice in patience to let her do things for herself. She is capable of so many things, sometimes it just takes a bit longer. The small successes are worth celebrating!
Homeschooling allows us to build on those small successes. Instead of each new day being a source of frustration at dealing with different teachers or different classmates, she can be in the comfort of her own home with the security of parents and siblings. She is free to focus on the task at hand and not get as distracted by extraneous things in her environment.
As much as I was (and still am!) convinced that homeschooling is the best choice for our family, I will admit I was intimidated to officially start homeschooling a special needs child. The experts are pretty darn good at convincing parents that it’s their specialized instruction that our children need. Truth be told, I still have doubts, even with our other children. Taking charge of the whole of a child’s education can be an overwhelming and daunting task.
We have our challenging days, but I know that for this season of life, Leah is exactly where she is supposed to be. The home environment allows for learning differences to be accepted as a normal part of everyday life. Lesson plans and real life plans go hand in hand and can be adjusted as needed. Growing and learning in the midst of a busy family where her small success are cheered on and celebrated.
Jen is a wife to one amazing husband and mom to six energetic kids. Visit Forever, For Always, No Matter What where she blogs about their Catholic faith, homeschooling and adoption.