April is World Autism Month, and according to Autism Speaks, “Throughout the month, we focus on coming together in unity and collaboration by fostering worldwide support, sharing stories, and connecting to create a more inclusive world.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a bio-neurological developmental disability that affects 1 in 36 children in the US. The degree of the disability can vary significantly from person to person. Still, individuals with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. Choosing the best school for an autistic child can be challenging and requires time and research, but there are essential factors to consider. We’ve outlined a few key points of discussion to keep in mind when determining the best school choice for your child.
Training of teachers and staff
Does the education team have a deep understanding of and experience with teaching autistic students? In a successful classroom where your child will thrive, staff members work collaboratively to accentuate your child’s positive skills, target deficits, and create routine structure consistently. Don’t hesitate to ask for teaching credentials or references, and don’t be shy about speaking to other parents at the school.
Does the school have space available? Specialized schools are often in high demand and there can be lengthy waitlists for admission. Keep in mind that private schools most often have smaller class sizes. Although these classrooms can offer more beneficial one-on-one attention, they may also have less availability for new students.
Activities and Therapies
Does the school offer activities and therapies that support your child’s developmental needs? Ask the administration about their approaches and focus, research the school’s website, and request a tour to watch the therapies and activities in action.
Does the school have a medical staff that is trained and available to meet your child’s needs, such as medication management and intervention? The role of a school’s medical staff should ensure a safe and healthy learning environment and offer the parent peace of mind.
Do the school’s communication procedures and protocols meet your expectations? Verify how you will receive updates about your student. Are phone calls, texts, or emails a better form of communication for you? How a school communicates can reveal how much they value parent involvement.
What is your child’s reaction to the school? Include your student when visiting the school and watch if they feel comfortable navigating it and the environment. Talk about the school after the visit and discern their reaction and impression.
Finally, remember that every child with Autism has unique needs, and no single education environment is suitable for all children with Autism. You can use these considerations to select an academic environment that meets your child’s intellectual, emotional, behavioral, social, and medical needs.
Does your child’s growing needs have you reevaluating your school choice for their upcoming school year? Visit the school locator page on our website to see the list of schools that support our students.
Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore