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Someplace Called Special: A Look at Homeschooling Special Needs Children Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

Various authors; Emily Hoffhines, Project Manager
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC
PO Box 8426
Gray, TN 37615

"You want to do what? Are you crazy?" That was pretty much the response my husband and I received years ago when we told friends and family that we had decided to homeschool our gifted son. We had actually been homeschooling from birth, but now that he was approaching "school-age" it was time to make the decision public knowledge. A short time later, when we adopted a beautiful baby boy with Down syndrome and shared that we intended to homeschool him as well--let's just say the comments and concern intensified. Then followed two more adoptions--another son and a daughter, both with Down syndrome and various significant medical challenges. Finally, another gifted son was born to us in a most delightful surprise. Even after seeing the incredible experience homeschooling has been for all of our children, and the graduation of our oldest a few weeks before his 16 th birthday, there are naysayers who think we have gone off our rockers a bit! Raising a healthy, typically developing child in today's chaotic world can be a challenge. Raising a child with special medical or developmental issues adds its own unique boulders in the road. If you then decide that you want to take total responsibility for teaching this precious child, those boulders might seem to be rolling down the hill straight towards your home! Ah, but what a joy and blessing these years have been for our family, and how much we believe our children have benefited from homeschooling!

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine has put together a wonderful 115-page e-book ($12.45) to offer encouragement and practical advice to parents who are homeschooling children with a wide variety of special needs. In the Epilogue, Christine Field notes that the book was intended to give us "a glimpse into the trenches." Someplace Called Special begins with 11 chapters, each written by a mother of a child with a specific medical or developmental diagnosis, such as dyslexia, cerebral palsy, Asperger's Syndrome, Down syndrome, gifted, or lupus. There is also a chapter on the "Ten Reasons to Homeschool Your Child with Special Needs," an Epilogue, and a wonderful Appendix that includes "The Good, the Bad, and the Blunt: Answers to Common Questions," information on IEPs, and a glossary that defines each of the diagnoses discussed.

If you are homeschooling a child with special needs, or have been praying about whether you can and should homeschool your child, then you need to read Someplace Called Special! I enjoyed reading every chapter, even those that don't directly pertain to my kids. All of the authors did a wonderful job of providing practical information, ideas, options, and most of all, encouragement. It is easy to feel alone on this path and to become discouraged. Some of the parents had tried the public or private school systems for their child only to find their needs weren't being met, thus leading to their homeschool adventure. Others homeschooled their special child from birth. Some have professional training related to their child's special needs. Others are "just" dedicated and caring moms who have gained much wisdom along the way. However, all of the authors share their challenges and joys as they have sought to meet the needs of their child. I didn't realize how discouraged I had lately become in our homeschool journey until I breathed in the encouragement of these wonderful moms! There is something magical about hearing from others who have been down the same road and can offer a word of advice or support. If you have become discouraged in homeschooling your special needs child, or you aren't sure if you can really do this, I think you will find much sage advice and encouragement in this wonderful e-book!

P.S. I hesitate to mention this aloud, but . . . if you have well-meaning relatives or friends who are less than enthusiastic about your decision to homeschool your child with special needs, perhaps you could have them peruse Someplace Called Special. Maybe reading about other families' experiences will help them gain a better understanding of why you are doing what you are doing. Just a thought!

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2010