Finding the right school for your child is an important decision, but there is more to think about if your child needs extra levels of attention for any reason. Not only do you want to pick a school that will give your child quality education, but you also need to find a school that will be able to meet your child’s unique needs, respect their differences, and accept them for who they are. Below are a few things to consider when choosing the right school for children with Autism
It is a great idea to review all the options available to you and then make a decision when armed with that knowledge. We would also recommend that you ask your primary health care provider what would best suit your child’s needs.
Arrange a visit.
Visit the school to get an idea of how they operate. Observe the classroom as well as the other students and the teacher your child might be with. Take into account things like whether the school has a sensory room or, at least, a learning centre where an overwhelmed child can go to regroup or decompress.
Consider the staff
One of the most important aspects of choosing a school, especially for children with ASD, is having qualified staff, especially principals and administrators who are trained in specialist education. When you visit each of the places on your shortlist, you can get a better understanding of the educators there. Look for those who are well-trained, positive, and engaged, and teachers who will be most likely to understand Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as the gifts and challenges that typically go along with it.
Spend time chatting with teachers, the principal, and other staff members to look for an environment that is most likely going to make the life of your special needs child happier and easier. You want to find a place that will enhance their learning, and that has relevant policies and processes in place for children on the autism spectrum.
Consider the distance
Children on the spectrum can have a hard time with long bus rides. You know your child best, it is important to find out beforehand if your child will be comfortable with the ride to school. You can take your child along on a visit to the school you are considering. That way you can walk through the building together and see how your child reacts to the environment.
Mainstream vs. adapted schools
Apart from comparing educators and their methods, it is also a good idea to compare mainstream schools with specialist ones so you can determine which might provide the best setting for your child. There are pros and cons of each, so you will need to weigh them based on the needs and challenges of your specific child.
For example, many children on the autism spectrum are non-verbal. As such, they often need to attend a special education school where they can be part of small classes, learn from teachers who have had very specialized training, and be able to utilize a variety of teaching methods and aids designed for children with ASD. These types of schools also tend to be more secure, and can often help children with special needs to feel less “different,” and more included, than mainstream facilities.
On the other hand, though, mainstream schools (particularly those which have specific classes and facilities for students with special needs) also provide benefits which are worth considering. For example, if children with ASD are higher functioning and very intelligent, they often find that mainstream schools give them a better chance of enhancing their social skills and providing more healthy competition academically.
Mainstream institutions also typically have a wider area of subjects for children to choose from, which can be of great benefit to those with Asperger’s, for example, who often have a set focus on one particular topic, such as science, engineering, or math.
There is no one size fits all. We advise that you do what is best for your child. And, usually, this includes asking your child’s doctor to walk you through what option will be best for him/her. Overall, you need to ensure that your child has the education he/she needs to achieve his/her full potential, learn, grow, and lead a fulfilling life.
Read – Tips to help you choose the best school for your child for other things to consider when choosing the best school for your child. Do you have any other tips? Share with us