Member Story: Rehab Doctor Tried to Force My Child Into School Program During Time of Crisis

by M.P., Ontario

We have homeschooled our boys for the past 7 years, and have had nothing but smooth sailing – even through removing them from the public school system, until recently. Family and friends who helped us start this journey strongly recommended that a membership with HSLDA was important because we never know ‘what might be around the corner’. We live in a society who says homeschooling is legal, but it isn’t always encouraged or understood.

Our son was in an accident and was hospitalized for a good portion of the winter. As he recovered from his injuries, it was recommended we move from the hospital to a rehab facility for children where he would receive intensive therapy. While we were there, the children were expected to establish a daily routine that was as ‘normal’ as could be. The centre worked in partnership with a special school directed by the public school system, and we were expected to register and participate. I explained that we homeschooled our son, and I had already brought along his curriculum and we were fully prepared to return to our ‘normal’ routine. That’s when we found out how adamantly some professionals are against homeschooling.

Suddenly we found ourselves in one of those ‘corners’. I was told I was inadequately trained and unqualified to teach my son. The doctor informed me that “You don’t understand the cognitive needs your son is facing, and you are not a trained educational specialist”.
This doctor was so fiercely determined that I would conform. He gave me an ultimatum – register for the school program or leave the therapy centre. All I was asking was for my son to continue his ‘normal.’

I was already overwhelmingly stressed about my son’s condition and my family’s needs. I had been separated from our other children for weeks due to Covid restrictions. So, trying to work through a confrontation like this was more than I was able to process clearly.
I dealt with many doctors through this journey – only one was like this one. Megen Zelinka, HSLDA’s legal counsel, gave me practical, experienced, legal advice and patiently showed me the options. Diane Geerlinks, who the doctor acknowledged is a trained Exceptional Needs Specialist, walked me through the types of educational assessments available to us.

The guidance they provided me with was timely and extremely helpful, and we were able to de-escalate and resolve the situation.
Thank you to Megen, Diane and the HSLDA Team for supporting me through this difficult time. I appreciate your advice, direction, and patience with me when I was not able to be at my best.

I strongly encourage my homeschooling peers to join HSLDA, and I know a few have since learning of the challenges we faced. I am so grateful for my sister-in-law who told me years ago that there are only two things every homeschooling family must do: attend a homeschooling conference every year and maintain a membership with HSLDA. She was so right.

The content of this story has been printed verbatim by an HSLDA member who wishes to share her personal story while remaining anonymous. If you would like to let others know about how HSLDA has helped you during a time of crisis, please contact us.

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