Hello! Welcome to MFW and to homeschooling!
Your son sounds a bit like mine in some ways. My boy is on the autism spectrum (diagnosed just before age 3), and he will be 7 in a month. Like yours, mine was language delayed and went through Early Intervention. We got him an iPad and the app Proloquo2Go to help with communication. He loves anything that spins, particularly ceiling fans and other fans, and he has since he was born. He's been in therapies since he turned 1...first PT, which he no longer needs, and currently ST and OT. Writing and fine motor are a bit of a struggle for him. He taught himself to read when he was 4 and reads very well. There are so many things...simple things...that I wasn't sure he would ever learn how to do, such as riding a bike or even just spitting so that we could start using fluoride toothpaste, but he does those things now. I thought potty training would be horrible, but he was actually really easy to potty train. It took awhile, especially night time, but he's done so well!
Well, all of that to say, I think I know some of the things you're feeling in regard to homeschooling a child with special needs. We have used MFW from the beginning. I have 2 daughters, ages 14 and 11, and my son, who is 6. We started my oldest with MFW Kindergarten back in 2006, and we've used every year of MFW except high school. My son has a May birthday, and I wasn't going to start him in kindergarten until he turned 6. I was going to do an extra year of preschool-type work with him, but when he turned 5, he just seemed ready, especially since I know that MFW K is a gentle introduction to formal learning. Yes, I did have to tweak the program a bit for him, to meet his needs, but it was certainly easy to do, and MFW K was a great fit for him!
My son is a whiz with numbers...he can count to 100 and recognizes and can read numbers into the thousands, but I did not supplement the MFW math curriculum for him. My goals for him in kindergarten were that he would learn about Jesus and learn the character quality for each unit; that he would learn to sit and focus for short, and then gradually longer, periods of time; that he would learn to follow directions; and that we would work on his writing as he was able. Everything else was gravy. There is no need to push kids so hard when they're so young. And, really, there is no need for a formal math curriculum until they hit 2nd grade. Now, of course, if you truly feel that it would benefit your son to use a formal math curriculum, then by all means, that is what you should do. But, as Ruth said, MFW K contains all of the math skills that a kindergartner needs, and it is very gentle. I love MFW 1st grade math, because it is the very best way for young kids to learn math...through hands-on activities, math-related children's literature, and an age-appropriate workbook. I would recommend waiting until you get MFW K in your hands and can look through it before you add a math curriculum.
I did order the K Handwriting Without Tears for my son. However, I have used the workbook very little. The things I do like in that program are the little chalk bits and the chalkboards. The small chalk bits helped my son with his grasp, and he loves writing on the chalkboard. For the first 3/4 of kindergarten, my son wrote his letters in a salt tray with his finger, on a chalkboard, on a white board with dry erase markers, or using a tracing app on his iPad. He did very little paper and pencil writing early on. As I said before, writing is a struggle for him. He tires easily. So, to add more handwriting was just overkill. MFW K and MFW 1 include more than enough handwriting practice for a child who struggles with writing anyway. However, to let him write using a variety of different materials really helped my son.
My son was absolutely not artsy and did not like drawing or coloring when he was in kindergarten. So, whenever it required him to draw something, we used stickers. For coloring, we sometimes used those dotters (like bingo dotters). I just adapted the activities so he could do them. When he learned the sounds of the letters, he wasn't always able to make the correct sounds, but I just took him where he was at, and we kept moving on. If there were certain sounds he was having trouble with, I told his speech therapists, and they worked with him on those sounds. I didn't want to hold him back in his learning just because he couldn't make certain sounds and couldn't write very well. We just kept moving forward.
I started my son in MFW K in Aug. after he turned 5. We did K for 1 1/2 years, only doing it 4 days a week because of his therapies on the 5th day each week. He finished MFW K in Jan. of this year and started MFW 1 (Learning God's Story). Again, we are doing it only 4 days a week, so I am planning on taking 1 1/2 years to finish. Already, I am having to adapt it for him. There is more writing than he can handle, so I have to skip some of it, but he is thriving in MFW 1. I've even been able to start some basic art lessons with him using an Usborne I Can Draw Animals book, and he is doing so well with it.
I just wanted to encourage you that you CAN homeschool your autistic son, and MFW is a wonderful curriculum to use! It is multi-sensory, and it is easy to adapt to meet each individual child's needs.
Also, I want to encourage you to meet your son's needs, but not to overdo in the "school" department. My son can sit for about half an hour, with a jump break on his trampoline at some point, then we take a 5-10 minute movement and snack break, and finally we finish up his school work in another 30-45 min. That's about all he can handle, and then he's ready to be done with school so he can go play. Your son is young at 4 1/2 almost 5. There is no need to rush into too much formal schooling. Let those early years be nice and gentle as far as learning goes. Enjoy MFW K, and enjoy getting started on this wonderful journey of homeschooling!
happily married to Vince (19 yrs)
blessed by MFW since 2006
have used every year K-1850MOD
2018-2019: Adventures with 9yo boy