I received a question from a reader the other day, and my reply email became so long that I turned it into a post!
My son just recently was diagnosed with PDD-nos. I’m thinking about homeschooling was wondering if you have any good suggestions on curriculum or teaching styles for 4-5 year olds with PDD-nos? ~LisaEvery Autism Spectrum kid is different.
Every Autism Spectrum kid is different.
That’s one thing I have discovered in getting to know lots of autism moms. The reason they call it the Autism Spectrum is that there is a whole range of symptoms, disorders and disabilities that fall under the Spectrum.
Every child has his own unique combination of him, and varying degrees of each. There is no “formula” to it. You have to study your child.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind:
There’s no rush to push academics with a 4-5 year old. Take him to the library, and to the preschool story times (if he can sit through them). I’m not a big curriculum pusher for kids this age. Any child in the 4-6 range benefits from lots of hands-on experiences, reading, counting, and active play.
Take advantage of therapies.
If he is receiving Speech/OT/PT therapies, then spend some time talking with his therapists and build on what they are doing in speech and OT. If he would benefit from therapies and you have the insurance or means to pay for them, I recommend private therapy over school district services. School districts are usually very limited on what they can or will do.
Our son, almost completely NON-VERBAL at the age of 4, only qualified for 20 minutes of speech therapy once a week through the school district! Thank God I never, ever relied on that.
We always had private therapies first and foremost.
He attended 75 minutes of speech therapy twice a week from the age of 2-6, plus OT once a week for 90 min. for years and years, and a Speech/OT group for an hour once a week from the ages of 6-10. Early intervention, or as early as you can, provides the most benefit to a developing child.
He may have (diagnosed or undiagnosed) sensory processing issues.
We have dealt with sensory-seeking and sensory-avoidance issues with our PDD-NOS son, so I can relate! With spectrum kids specifically, you could have any number of related sensory processing issues:
Sensory seeking (behaviors such as rolling, bumping into things, jumping, spinning, tasting things) or sensory avoidance (behaviors such as taking off clothes because he hates seams or tags, not liking being touched/rubbed/tickled, food issues due to texture, hypersensitivity to lights or sound, etc..)
For kids with sensory issues I highly recommend a book called The Out-of-Sync Child, and it’s co-title, The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun. These two books will give you hundreds of ideas to help feed his seeking or desensitize his trouble issues. It will also help you understand the way he feels and why he reacts to things the way he does.
Pay close attention to his areas of strength and need.
If he is exceptionally bright in one area, let him run with it. And if he is seriously struggling with something else, gently work to reinforce that area using whatever method works for him.
D1 is very gifted in sciences and is fascinated by electronics, so guess what I spend money on? Electronics kits! We also pick up things like old telephones, radios, etc from thrift stores that he can tear apart and figure out how they work. He does these completely on his own because he loves it.
Our son struggles with the writing process (brain to pencil to paper, not penmanship itself) so we have used a curriculum called Brave Writer, which has a lot of built-in ideas for different methods of teaching writing and guiding without beating them over the head with the writing process.
Along with that, because of his serious writing delays we also use the computer for many subjects including math, writing, spelling, and projects.