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Can I Teach My Child with Disabilities?

By Dana Wilson
Contributing Writer and Homeschool Mom

Can I Teach My Child with Disabilites PhotoWe belong to a very small subset of the population. We live on one income, we have more than two children (in fact, at last count, there were five), we homeschool, and two of our children have disabilities. Those last two are the ones that I get the most questions about. People around here have grown accustomed to seeing school-aged children at the bank and the grocery store during school hours. "We're studying Economics!" we beam when queried at the bank. "Home Ec!" we cry as we amble the aisles hunting and gathering sustenance for our little tribe. What seems so foreign to many peoples' way of thinking is that we educate our disabled children at home.

A question that arises frequently is, "Can you do that?" Since the setting is usually public and impromptu, I give the short answer, "By God's grace." If it's been a particularly trying day, I might say, "Check back with me in 15 years and I'll let you know." I will now give the long answer.

If, by "Can you do that?" you mean, "Can you do that?" I would say yes, I can. In other words, I am able. To be frank, I don't always feel able. I rely heavily upon the truth in God's Word, which assures me that He is working in and through our situation for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. That truth can seem very vague and far away when I'm trying to get an appointment with a new specialist who might or might not take our health insurance, but the wonderful thing about truth is that it is sure no matter my perspective, distance or state of mind. God planned our family from before the foundation of the Earth — disabilities, home education, and all. I can do it. My Father will see to it.

Perhaps some people are really asking, "Can you do that?" I do not have an advanced degree. I'm not a physical, occupational, speech, or respiratory therapist. I don't even fit orthotics. Is it possible to have less than zero practical training for a job? If so, that's where my qualifications lie. As in, prior to endeavoring to disciple my disabled children at home, the most complicated thing I'd ever done was march and twirl a large, silk flag while keeping time to "Eye of the Tiger." But again, my answer is "yes." I can read, I can think and I can take copious notes. I'm also relatively certain that God allowed the invention of the Internet at this precise time in history so that I could have a world of information at my fingertips. I have purposed to bring the very best I have to bear upon this task. God, who began this good work, has promised to make up the difference between what I have and what is required for the job. His provision is perfect.

The question most people seem to be asking though is "Can you do that?" which I take to mean, in practical terms, is it possible to educate a child with a disability at home? My reply to that is, not only is it possible, it is necessary. I will admit my bias here and tell you that I believe that all children would be best served in a one-on-one tutoring environment, and that the most effective way to impart Biblical values and understanding is to spend a majority of our waking hours with our children, seizing every opportunity to train them to view their experiences through the lens of rightly-applied Scripture. It seems to me that children with disabilities are ideal candidates for all of the benefits home education has to offer, and that the way to make sure they are getting the best education possible while having their special needs appropriately and consistently met is to homeschool.

Yes, by the grace of God, I can!

Bio of Dana Wilson

Dana WilsonDan and Dana Wilson have been married since 1990, and homeschooling since 1998. They are the parents of five children, two of whom have disabilities. Their homeschool could be described as Classical, with a dash of Charlotte Mason, the occasional unit study and a workbook or two thrown in for good measure. The Wilsons believe that life is learning, and they love to take their school "on the road" visiting family, friends and interesting destinations whenever possible. They enjoy the teaching and fellowship of their family-integrated church, St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church, in Oklahoma City, OK. Dan is Chief Operating Officer at ClearSight Center in Oklahoma City, and Dana is a parent mentor with Oklahoma Family Network, Oklahoma's non-profit Parent-to-Parent mentorship and referral network, empowering families who are raising children with special health care or disability needs.
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