As I sit here typing this, my eleven-year-old daughter sits in her Special Tomato Chair, stares off into “space”, and smiles as her older brother and four of her younger siblings goof off and laugh near her. I will never know for sure whether she understands what is happening around her, but she seems to find pleasure in their antics nevertheless. I am simply thankful that she is having a good day today and that a smile lights up her beautiful face.
My youngest child is three and he too sits in a stroller in the middle of the action, his eyes following his siblings around as they talk and eat their snacks, waiting to make eye contact with any one of them so he can them a give grin. He expresses himself more than his older sister but still is non-verbal and developmentally delayed.
This is my life. This is my ‘normal’.
Why I Homeschool My Medically Fragile Child
You imagine so many things about motherhood, but rarely do you imagine having a medically fragile child. But I do, and I homeschool because my child is medically fragile. In fact, I have more than one medically fragile child which has multiplied my reasons for homeschooling.
I gave birth to eight children within nine years, but our 5th child died a few hours after his birth. So, I am blessed to get to raise seven children. Many factors went into our decision to homeschool, but the multiple medical and special needs – varying from mild to severe – have played a huge role in it.
Years ago, the thought of sending my oldest to public school with his dairy allergy, asthma, and immunodeficiency was simply not something I was willing to do. And as I thought ahead, I knew that I could never send my second child off to school with her severe medical needs and the developmental level of an infant.
Out of our seven living children, four have medical conditions that require special care. All of these are managed much more closely and carefully by myself and my husband at home. Homeschooling our medically fragile children has given us control over their diets, their comfort, and of course, their education.
Early on, when our pediatrician questioned our choice to homeschool our second child because of her severe intellectual delays and medical needs, I asked her what our daughter would be doing at public school. She answered with something along the lines of: “well, they would care for her needs, sing songs, play with her, and other things appropriate for her developmental level”.
I told the doctor that our daughter would receive all of that and more within the comfort and safety of our home surrounded by a family who loves her and whom she loves being surrounded by. Our pediatrician had to agree but offered that sending my daughter to public school would give me a break from her (for free). No, thank you.
You know, I became a mom and chose to homeschool my children because I love being with them, teaching them, learning with them, and playing with them. That didn’t change when I learned that they would be medically fragile.
I don’t deny that I appreciate breaks once in awhile, but I don’t want to miss one moment more than necessary with my children, even with – and perhaps because of – their medical needs. Life is too short to spend it wallowing in self-pity or selfishness.
I’ve had my fair share of pity parties, to be sure. But, I learned early on that focusing on counting our blessings, seeking joy, and finding strength in Jesus was a lot more peaceful and fulfilling than the former attitude.
There is a constant need to die to self, give myself pep talks, and dive deeper into God’s Word to combat my natural desire to feel sorry for myself and my children because of their medical conditions. There is also a grieving process as we let go of what we expected and accept what is.
It is not easy, this life. But, I’d venture to say that parenting and homeschooling healthy, typically developing children is not easy either. Parenting and homeschooling take dedication, perseverance, love, sweat, and tears . . . but things worth doing usually do, am I right?
So, yes, I homeschool because my child is medically fragile … and because I want to be the one who is with them when they learn, develop, grow, smile, laugh, cry, hurt, or need me in any way. Protecting my child’s immune system is just one (major) factor in our decision to homeschool and I am so thankful for the freedom to do what I feel is best for our family.
You can read more specifically about how I homeschool our eleven-year-old medically fragile and disabled child on my blog: How To Homeschool Your Disabled Child
And if you need encouragement, please read my article: 19 Bible Verses For The Special Needs Life
Clarissa is a Christian, Wife, Homeschool Mom to 7 Children with Medical & Special Needs, Grieving Mom to 1 Child in Heaven, Homemaker, and Writer. You can find her at www.ClarissaRWest.com sharing practical tips & encouraging others to count blessings, seek joy, and find strength in Jesus.
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.