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Tuesday March 21st 2023

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Homeschooling Family’s Success with ADHD/Autism – Part 1

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Yesterday’s post about the feud among ADHD medication researchers caused a bit of a stir on Facebook last night. Today’s follow-up story comes from my book, Homeschoolers’ Success Stories: 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives (Prima Publishing, 2000). It’s a story of the power of love and homeschooling.

Hans Christian Butikofer, better known as Chris, studied math today. He used Professor B Math. “It’s real life math, but sometimes it’s in books, sometimes on fingers,” Chris says from his home in British Columbia. He sounds excited.

MPj04465650000[1]Chris’s mom, Loralea, chimes in. “It’s a special kind of math system that starts a kid again from the bottom up, and it uses the tactile method of fingers. The kids really enjoy it, and I like that it brings theory down to reality again. Chris, even though he’s very advanced in math, needs that.”

This 9 year-old math whiz wants to be a criminologist someday, because that work includes being both a scientist and a policeman. “And during my spare time, I want to do a few things: baseball and to space. I play baseball now.”

Loralea and Stefan, Chris’s dad, just received word that Chris did well on provincial exams, excellent in all areas except for story writing, which was judged acceptable. Canadian law just changed, however, rendering the tests optional for homeschoolers, so they won’t be administering them again.

If you’ve read much about homeschooling, you know that the correlation of good test scores and broad interests is not unusual. However, most of the parents of these children don’t say, as Loralea does, “We knew there was something wrong from the time Chris was born. He wouldn’t conform himself to your body; that’s a typical autistic thing to do, but I didn’t know that at the time. From about 6 months to 1 ½ years he was all right. At about 14 months, he got into his terrible 2’s and he stayed there until he was 5 years-old. It took us having a second child to realize how different Chris was.”

At 2 ½ years old, Chris didn’t talk except for a few baby “sound” words. He learned to read before he could speak, a fairly typical progression for autistic children who tend to teach themselves through the whole word method, memorizing the shape of the word. Loralea’s parents encouraged her to try phonics, hoping that phonics would help him learn to speak. Loralea’s dad, Don Calvert, was working as a homeschooling consultant after retiring from 33 years employment with the Calgary public schools: 7 years as a teacher, 7 as an assistant principal, and 19 as a principal.

“I taught Chris the sounds of letters,” says Loralea, “and he caught on quickly because he liked symbols. It took from about the age of 2 into the age of 3 for him to begin to realize tht sounds were important. He saw the word ‘cat’ and made a meow sound. After he began to understand the sound thing, all of a sudden he understood that a cat is ‘c-a-t,’ you have to say it that way. When he first understood the pronunciation of the word ‘cat,’ I saw the lights go on for him.”

STAY TUNED for Part Two tomorrow – Loralea and Stefan go to a homeschooling seminar in Alberta!

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