Growing up, I wasn’t familiar with the military. I didn’t have any friends in the military, and although I had heard the phrase quite a bit, I had no idea what it meant to be an “army brat.” After marrying into the Air Force, I learned very quickly that although my children would get to experience many different communities, countries, and cultures, they would be bounced around from school to school. As exciting as this is for most children, it is not usually the case for a child with ASD.
This year, instead of shopping for new clothes, picking out a new backpack, and waiting in anticipation to find out who his teacher was going to be, Jaxon was about to begin an entirely new educational journey. My husband and I took a huge leap of faith and enrolled him into a local online school. Online school is becoming more and more popular among military families because it makes learning and transitioning a lot easier when you are constantly moving and changing locations.
Our decision to enroll Jaxon in an online school came after many sleepless nights, multiple pro/con lists, researching online schools, researching the statistics and success of online schools, and determining if I had the patience to help him with his work. My husband and I, knowing that we will likely be moving every year for the next three years, agreed that online school might be our saving grace for Jaxon’s educational needs.
The school we chose for Jaxon is based out of Colorado, but there are other K-12 options available. We did not have any trouble transferring his IEP (this was important to me) or adapting it to fit an online format. Although the online program might not work for everyone raising a child with special needs, it may be worth looking into. Jaxon is able to fidget without bothering other students, get up and take breaks when he feels frustrated, and sit and enjoy art and music without worrying if others are watching him. Jaxon lights up when he gets all of his spelling words right or a 100 percent on his math test. We are able to navigate our daily assignments at his pace, and he can ask as many questions as he needs to without slowing down the rest of the class.
Traditional school was not a good fit for Jaxon, but so far, online school (fingers crossed) has been a great success for us. We have had a few rough moments (which is to be expected), and I will admit that I have had to take a few “mommy/teacher” breaks myself, but it is amazing to see him enjoy learning again. My husband and I feel that an online program will ensure him a stable educational environment wherever the military sends us. I feel that it will also ensure him a teacher who understands him, advocates for him, and will do everything in her power to see him achieve greatness. If you have any questions about our online learning journey please email me.
My name is Dr. Jill Tschikof. I am the mother of three and a military spouse. We have had struggles and successes raising a child with autism while serving in the military and I hope that my future stories will act as a form of guidance for others navigating this same path. You can find my personal blog at www.autismdeal.com. I hope that you will email me if you have any questions.