Regular School or Online School?


This is a tough decision. Computers are almost my children’s native language, and over the summer both worked daily out of both paper workbooks and iPad apps to maintain a schedule throughout the summer. My son spent last year in the general education classroom without any supports. This is a blessing that he’s made this much progress. It’s also been hugely frustrating.

My son is an excellent student, and had the highest math scores in his class (possibly in his school’s 4th grade). Abstract language concepts are still difficult, but he seems to pick concepts up easier from a computer than a person. The most frustrating element of schooling remains the social component.

At first, there seemed to be a bullying issue, but the school was quick to work with his class to make sure the students understood my son has autism. They explained different types of behaviors, that yes, he really is that sensitive to their words, and yes, normal class volumes really are that much louder to his ears. Soon his whole class was on board, and being nice to him. So why are we still having issues with frustration, tears, and now, anger?

My son has difficulty understanding social situations, both in recognizing when someone is making fun of him and when they’re not. He misinterprets both, and as his frustration builds through out the day, his ability to cope with new stress decreases. Last year in a new school, in a different state, with different expectations and less accommodations was difficult. That doesn’t mean it was handled wrong, or that he’s not able to adjust. It’s painful to watch him have to make those adjustments, as it would be for any parent. His teacher did a fabulous job working with him and helping him cope.

The social part of education is really throwing him for a loop. I know that the only way to get better at understanding the subtleties of social interaction is to experience them, but I can’t help but wonder if those social experiences have to be at school, at least in a traditional school environment.

My son is naturally a hard worker who is very task oriented,… that’s a part of who he is. All summer, every day, he woke himself around 7:00 AM, typically completing all his chores by 9:30 AM. Most academic learning has come easily for him, but as he gets older, that’s not guaranteed to remain the same. He loves learning academics, especially mathematics. It almost feels like relationship learning may be more effective in a different environment.

It’s a new year, and today was his first day back at traditional school. We have high hopes that this year will be better than last. I have to admit that I’m researching more about online school options that have many field trips and social occasions while letting the students learn at their own pace at home in a language that is more natural to them. I don’t know which would work better, at this point, but I’m trying to stay open-minded with either option.

Just some thoughts.


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