Special Education/Homeschool OCD


My 9 year old has severe OCD. We cannot afford $200 a session for ERP. Anyone who claims to know it really doesn't and very few people treat it in young kids. And we live in a nice suburb. School is a disaster. They've done nothing. They want to put my son who is gifted in a class with kids who are way behind so as to not deal with it. I don't have a doctor  on my side because of money but I've talked to the  ped.  He's very sympathetic but can't really diagnose. My son can act totally normal if his obsessions are met. If not meltdown. I'm doing ERP in a gentle way but at school they don't listen and assume he's being intransigent if he doesn't comply. They say they understand it's OCD but also add that he knows what he's doing. Yes he does! But it's a compulsion. He won't even sit in his chair if someone else doesn't straighten it first. He refuses to go in the morning. I carry him to the bus. I really want to homeschool him with some home bound instruction . How can I go about this? He us unravelling at school and is so much happier at home. And I know I can help on his OCD too. I just cannot handle the workload as a working mom.  I wouldn't withhold treatment for my son but I cannot afford $2000 for an eval by the institute near me, the only one, dealing in childhood OCD. A regular neuropsych  is not what's needed. Plus I've been doing ERP with success. But because the school doesn't really do it, I've people working against my son. Like if I have him help me straighten something so he doesn't expect me to do it, and over time, do it less and then work on the straightening aspect, the school tries, my son gets upset and they give in. They boss him around instead of showing kindness and he won't do ERP there. I know it's not the schools job to treat my son but I'm doing all the teaching at home. He's not learning because of the OCD. They think he is because he's so smart and I sit with him two hours a day. I know he'd do well with 1:1 instruction and now I'm convinced school isn't the place for him right now.  Please please advise.

Hello, Cara, I am sorry to hear that your 9 year old is struggling with Anxiety. I have both some suggestions and questions, which I hope lead you to greater success for him in school.

Homeschooling is a parent decision. When a parent removes a child for homeschooling, it is a big time and resource commitment, and if there is no parent home during the day, this can be quite challenging if not impossible.

For homebound instruction, an adult will have to be home as well. It will be difficult for you to remove him from the school by homeschooling and also make a case for homebound instruction.  This is easier if an IEP is in place, but usually, a medical or psychological recommendation is needed, and homebound instruction provided by the school district is done on a shorter term basis, for a child in crisis.

You do not say whether your child has an Individual Education Program or 504 Plan.  Either way, if he is eligible as a child with a disability, you have several advocacy tools that you may want to consider.

First, has the school conducted a full and complete evaluation in all areas of need? This would include psychological, educational, and functional behavior assessment, at least.  If these evaluations are not up to date and current, it is likely that you want to request these evaluations.  The team will convene a meeting and should generate an assessment process.  The most important of these may be the functional behavior assessment.  This is a team activity that explores your son's interfering behaviors and should include you in the process.  The FBA leads to the development of the behavior intervention plan, which becomes part of the IEP.

The IEP and BIP can include counseling using evidence based methods such as ERP. The key is for the evaluations and plan to document that these behaviors negatively affect his education progress and his performance in the classroom.  Usually, kids who have OCD/Anxiety struggle with executive functioning-getting started, gathering resources, making shifts between activities and completing work.  

Goals in the IEP should be strongly worded, measurable and observable.  Progress should be monitored through data.  

If you disagree with the public evaluations, you have a right to request independent evaluation at public expense.  But you have to be careful in your request, as the school may refuse and must take you to a hearing to uphold evaluations.  But many times, the school will agree, in which case you can select the examiner for the second opinion and the school has to pay for it.

On one hand, you are saying school is not the right place for him, but on the other, you may be unable to homeschool.  So, if that is the case, you may want to keep trying, even though you are frustrated, to work with the school using an expert like me or a professional advocate.  

Another tool you can use is to have various people go into the classroom to conduct observation.  This also is part of the FBA.  So, if you ask the school for the FBA, you will likely find that behavior specialists and other resource providers outside of the school can come into the school and help the school staff with how to properly positively support your son with his OCD.  

I have two books:
Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book and
School Success for Kids with Emotional Behavioral Disorders.

The Advocacy Resource Book has letters you can write to make requests and it details how to craft an IEP. It tells you about your and your child's rights to a free appropriate public education.  

The EBD book is all about how to conduct a proper functional behavior assessment.  

Lastly, I would suggest that the IEP or 504 Plan with behavior intervention plan should detail your child's strengths, including his giftedness, so that he can have differentiated instruction and expansion of the curriculum.  If he is being placed in a classroom with low levels of instruction, that may make the anxiety worsen.  Perhaps he likes to help others or teachers with classroom jobs.  Perhaps he can read to younger students. I am saying this so that he can enjoy his school day and have something to look forward to.

The bottom line answer to your question from my perspective is that if you want homebound instruction, you will need to keep him enrolled at school but provide medical or psychological documentation that he needs to be taught at home.  But again, this is usually short term, because a transition plan back to school will need to be included.  He is only 9 years old, so it may be that you want to use the advocacy tools available to you to force the school to do what is needed.

If at any time you do not feel he is receiving his free appropriate public education, you should avail yourself of an attorney consultation as well. COPAA.org is a nice organization where attorneys in your area are listed.  Engage experts if you can, but some attorneys will consult for free.  I also provide long distance services and can audit your child's case, making recommendations that will help you in team meetings.  

I truly hope these suggestions are useful and help you advocate for your exceptional child's education!  Please, feel free to follow up with another question based on my response.  Thank you so much for using this service, and for writing to me.  

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.


I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.


10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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