Pediatric Doctors, special needs homeschooling and medically fragile kids can really make life interesting. It’s not unusual for a doctor to ask what grade Parker is in and what school he goes to. Because he is on record at our neighborhood school, it would be easy to simply give the school’s name and move on with a new subject. As succinctly as possible, I share that Parker sees a sped teacher 4 times a week for 30 minutes, along with a few other specialists and we home school to make up the difference. Many doctors, knowing both mine and Reed’s backgrounds in education, nod their heads positively and ask what we are learning now. Others? Well, others can’t understand why we just don’t send Parker to school. They tell me that I need a break. Parker needs the fellowship of his peers. He needs to get out and see the world. Ah. Pediatric Doctors, special needs homeschooling and medically fragile kids, can really make life interesting.
We’ve tried sending Parker to school. The most longest stretch he attended was about three days. Then he was home sick for the same number of weeks. Being sick for Parker isn’t like being sick for his typically developing peers. He sick longer. Loses more weight. His pulmonary hypertension goes off the charts.
So much for me getting some ‘time off’, eh? Not to mention that those are weeks were learning is NOT on the daily plan.
There is a point with Parker and friends. Parker adores kids. Doesn’t matter what age. From his niece and nephew of under a year, to kids 4 times his size, Parker loves them all. So we have to be creative with play dates. His brothers and sisters come over to hang out just with him. Reed wrestles, plays ball and does that sort of stuff with him. His nurse and I? We spend a lot of our day, after assignments are finished, with him as we make crafts, build hobbit holes (oh, MAN, you should see the latest creation!), watching videos and just playing. I’m a believer that kids learn so much through their play. This holds doubly true for Parker.
In the summer we take him on field trips. He spends his mornings outside doing all the things that boys do. We feed the ducks, collect leaves and rocks, and watch the broad menagerie of wild birds that visit our yard on a regular basis. We invite kids over for play dates.
I’ve learned a bit in how to respond to the pediatric doctors who are certain that homeschooling a medically fragile child with special needs is not the best approach. I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve learned with you.
Speak to them as one professional to another. I am the professional when it comes to Parker. I’m the one who has done the research on Parker’s health when he attends school. I’m the one who has figured out the best environments and ways in which my child learns. There’s even been a time or two when I have politely asked the other professional in the room if they have ever taught a non-verbal child how to read. Guess what? I have. And I did it while homeschooling my son.
True story. If you attend your child’s pediatric doctor appointment’s looking like something the cat just drug out from under the bed, that doctor is going to think that you aren’t handling things well. That might sound incredibly unfair, but it’s true. While there may indeed by stretches of time that you haven’t been able to hit the shower, don’t let one of those days fall on a doctor’s appointment. It’s much easier to look someone in the eye and remain composed when there isn’t someone else’s snot in your hair. Not that this has ever happened to me. sigh.
If all else fails, and I’m in a particularly snarky mood (who, me?) I’ll go through our family lineage of teachers, beginning with my mom and Reed’s dad, to my kids, and nieces who teach. If nothing else, they are so bored by the time I’m through that they’ve forgotten what the question was in the first place.
Most of our doctors have known me, Reed and Parker for years now. They see how well cared for he is and how smart he is and support us as homeschoolers. It’s something I’m very thankful for. But every once in a while the whole pediatric doctors, special needs homeschooling and medically fragile kids thing comes out to try and bite us in the butt.
How do you handle having a pediatric doctor tell you that you are doing your child a disservice by homeschooling them?