Homeschooling, Faulty Logic, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Suicide, and Getting Slimed


This post was going to go on and on about the merits of homeschooling, refuting several viciously-worded posts by a certain blogger who seems to have taken it on to be the voice of anti-homeschooling sentiment in the blogosphere.  I was going to hot link this through the roof with the MANY studies that have come out touting the benefits of hs’ing, and disproving many of the negative assumptions about the development of hs’ed kids.

However, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to spend my time on that, at least not right now, and I’m certainly not to link to him, thereby giving his truly wicked-tongued rants any further audience.

One thing I did want to say was that, as I’ve pondered his words for the last day or so, I’ve realized that one of his “points” has some serious logic holes.

He blogged about a certain homeschooler who committed suicide, and came to the conclusion that the hs’ing lifestyle is what led him to kill himself.

That’s ridiculous.  If such was the case, the only kids who commit suicide would be homeschoolers, and regularly-schooled kids would never kill themselves.  But we know that this is just not true:  More than one teenage school shooting rampage has been brought about by feelings of alienation derived from negative interaction in school.

Now, I did not read this post of his extremely thoroughly, and did not read any of his comments, but I did skim through several of his posts, and he seems dead-set on ridding the U.S. from the ‘blight’ that is homeschooling.  I wanted to get an idea of what I’m potentially up against, but my Slime-O-Meter was blipping out of control, and I knew that I needed to keep my exposure to his expletive-filled vociferousness to a minimum.

Have there been hs’ed kids who commit suicide in the past?  Yes, obviously.  Will there be in the future?  Unfortunately, that is nearly certain.  However, if a study was done, I would bet my Suburban that the rate of suicide among hs’ers is *much* less than that of their publicly-schooled counterparts.

My middle son, Grant, was diagnosed when he was about 4.5 with a very odd learning disorder called Nonverbal Learning Disorder.  I blogged a bit about it here, but essentially, Grant’s developmental pediatrician is convinced that homeschooling is crucial to Grant’s continued healthy development.  He also believes that we were able to arrive early at a diagnosis (Grant was the youngest he’d ever dx’ed with this disorder) precisely *because* I’m a homeschooling mother and very much in tune with what (and how) my kids are learning.  He is also certain that Grant would be seriously misunderstood and dealt with unwisely by staff (though unintentionally so, of course) at any public institution, and that he’d probably perpetually be “in trouble” and have to be medicated.

Last note about that — kids with Nonverbal Learning Disorder have an astronomically high rate of suicide.  HOWEVER, the earlier NLD is dx’ed, and the better it is treated, those scary stats decrease to nearly nil.  NLD is similar to autism in that it is largely a communication disorder, both in processing external information, and expressing what is happening internally, and can lead to a HUGE disconnect between the NLD’er and the rest of the world. 

But, when a child is in an environment when those around him LOVE him, understand him, and are ultimately committed to his success in all of life’s arenas, and things like LD’s are effectively treated, then the secondary neuroses that can develop are kept to an absolute minimum.  IOW, catching NLD early and dealing with it rightly increase that child’s chances of success, and decrease their chances of developing neuroses like OCD and other problems that can frequently lead to suicide.

So, Mr. Homeschool Detractor, you’re just showing your ignorance.  Maybe you should check into ODD.  😆


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on October 30, 2006, in Homeschooling, Medical Stuff, Parenting, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. The homeschoolers committing suicide argument is so yesterday.

    The new homeschool finger-wag is that we’re leaving the schools instead of staying and trying to change the system to make it better. In other words, we’re being selfish.

    I figure, it’s never going to end. Just as there will always be racists and other forms of closed-mindedness, no matter what happens. Oh well, not like we want them to be on our side, do we? 🙂

    Thanks for the interesting post. You’ve got some lucky children there.

  2. “The homeschoolers committing suicide argument is so yesterday.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Seriously laughing out loud here.

    The whole “selfish” thing makes me think of Boy Scouts — I was chastised by some Scouting moms on a hs’ing forum b/c there are some things about Scouting that I really don’t like (I supposed my words “canned experience” were probably much more imflammatory than I had realized). They suggested that if I was concerned that that is a good reason to GET involved w/ Scouting, so I could change it from the inside. Um, no thanks. I’ll just take my kids camping.

    I think it can be true that hs’ers can get too internally focused. That’s why I encourage my older 2 sons (ages 9 & 7) to get involved in volunteer activities, I encourage neighborhood-friend play, and we’re very involved at our church. I’m not *as* involved in volunteer work as I was when I just had 0, 1 or 2 kids, but I still am involved in many things at church, including teaching 4 & 5yos.

    But, long story short, God gave my kids to me for a purpose. It’s not “selfish” if I’m more committed to them than I am to a stranger’s children; it’s right and good mothering.

  3. What kind of volunteering do your 7 and 9 year olds do? I’d love to get my 8 year old involved in something “official”, but not sure where to look. And we live near Los Angeles! Seems like we should be able to find something. 🙂

  4. Well, up until last week, my 7yo just does stuff at church with his class — helping out in various capacities, and taking on responsibilities. Last week, though, a former babysitter of ours took him to an event that was geared to promote literacy in inner-city kids. However, the event was poorly planned, and only the adult volunteers showed up — no kids. Most of them were college-aged, studying to be teachers. So, my son and 7yo girl who was the daughter of another volunteer ended up basically doing teacher-training with them. 😀

    My 9yo does stuff at church, as well as church-affiliated, but outside of church: Free carwashes, water giveaways on hot days, and helping with parties our church hosts at low-income apartment complexes as outreach to kids.

    That same former babysitter is a volunteer maniac, and has let me know that many of the activities coordinated by the national Make A Difference foundation have a minimum-age requirement of 8yo. She plans on scheduling as many as possible for herself, her sister, and her brother (who is one of my 9yo’s best friends)… And as many as will fit into our schedule, I’ll have my 9yo participate in.

    It’s cool, b/c he’s aware that he’s helping out others, plus he gets to spend time with his buddy and our former babysitter (whom all three of my sons just adore).

    Anyways. Long story short, I’d check with Make A Difference. Wait. I just did a search and is based in Phoenix, where I am. Hm. I’m a Google fan, so just Googling something like: volunteer “los angeles” youth project would probably net you more opportunities than you care to browse through. OR, check w/ your local library. Youth librarians are a *wealth* of information.

  5. Hi! My daughter, 6 yrs old was diagnosed with NLD today. Since she was 3, I started to see that she was delayed in her speech but that she was very good with her memory, plus her bad coordination. With the speech, I always thought it was because she was learning two languages at the same time, so I gave her some time and the coordination, we also found out that she had Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, which affect motor skills as well. But by now, she communicate but not in a “normal” way. Anyway… I finally decided to have her evaluated today and to my surprise she had the VIQ very high, (extremely high for her age) but the PIQ very low and that usually that discrepancy was because NLD. The doctor told me that I have to put her in shcool. We homeschool, obviously, and he told me that I was making a big mistake, but also told me that my daughter will be a problem for school!!! ha… you figure! What a nice advice… I cried all afternoon, after reading what NLD is, but I know that God has a purpuse for all this and He has a perfect plan for my daughter. Would you mind to share with me the things that you have done with your son and how NLD changed the way your were homeschooling. Curriculum, writting, math, etc… I feel lost, not that I am (the Lord is with me), but I have that feeling. 😦 Any imput will be highly appreciated!

    • Cari, all I did was rather what you would normally do with a homeschooled child: Boost the areas where he does exceptionally well, and hold back on the subjects where he lags… For instance, his fine motor skills affected his handwriting for a LONG time. He simply couldn’t write. So, until he was in 2nd grade, we did almost all of his “written” work orally. It was challenging, because his READING was far advanced, but his ability to WRITE was far behind. And in pretty much all English curricula, reading and writing are tied together. Also, he never did cursive. He went straight from printing to typing. However, many brick and mortar schools are eliminating cursive, so he hasn’t missed out on much. 🙂

      Another reason that “regular” school doesn’t work well for NLD kids is that they excel in some areas, yet are far behind in others — both in school subjects, but more notably in emotional and social development. If you put your daughter in 1st grade or even K, which is where she might be emotionally, but she can do 3-4th grade work, there’s going to be a problem there. That problem is 100% eliminated at home. It really doesn’t matter if there is a 2, 3, 4-year discrepancy in her development. As a homeschooling mother, you just adapt where needed.

      Something that was EXTREMELY helpful was getting private occupational therapy, which Grant had from about age 4-11. We met once a week (and later, once every two weeks) with the OT, and incorporated her instruction into Grant’s schoolwork. I *LOVED* that: We could work on the areas where Grant had the most trouble, be it on the steps he takes when bathing (we had to chart that with waterproof, velcro-backed pictures as a “check sheet” because he kept forgetting steps — he’d come out of the shower with unrinsed hair, etc.), or work with scissor skills. I kept a little list of things where Grant seemed challenged, and every time we met with the OT, she would take the list and say, “OK, we’ll try this and this and this,” and then work with Grant during the session, and then typically send me home with handouts or other ideas to work with his deficiencies. It worked phenomenally. 🙂

      Now, Grant is nearly 14 and many people don’t even realize he has NLD/high-functioning autism. He’s quirky, to be sure, but so many of the issues that USED to be problematic are no longer. There are still problems with his black-and-white way of seeing the world, and he still has a lack of self-awareness, and a level of physical awkwardness… He also reacts to problems in a very immature way, most of the time. He absolutely does not acknowledge any authority, which is problematic on a daily basis (he “ranks” his opinions and views just as high as anyone else — parent, pastor, friends’ parents, etc.) But he is at (or beyond) grade-level in all his schoolwork, and he has tons of friends. 🙂

    • My daughter is NVLD with a total IQ of 111. Her PIQ is classified as high/average but her VIQ is classified as Exceptional. There is a 32 point discrepancy. She has been in public school for k-5 (she is finishing up her 5th grade year now) This will be her last year in public school, and I wish to God I had had the courage to remove her sooner! Public school has nearly destroyed my bright and beautiful baby girl! She locks herself away in her room all the time now, is very withdrawn and seems so sad all the time! She has very high anxiety and cries on many mornings when she has to go to school! We are going to homeschool next year and I sincerely pray that we can reverse some of the damage to her self esteem. It is a heartbreaking feeling to get a (detailed) suicide note from your 10 year old daughter because she is “so stressed but doesn’t know why” and she “just wants to end it”! NVLD is barely recognized as a disability by public schools because it’s not in the DSM, so she will never get proper help that she needs! I would NEVER suggest an NVLD mom choose public school!

      • Sarah… Heartbreaking! I’m so glad you’re going to homeschool your daughter next year. You can do it!! Do you have her in any counseling or in any therapies? My son will be a sophomore next year. We tried a year of online, at-home public school, via K12, and it was not successful. I’m returning to traditional homeschooling in the fall.

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