Choosing a school for your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be overwhelming. Not only will you be choosing a school that will make your child thrive, you need also to look into its educational values and the overall school’s reputation on how well it accepts Autism. You need to accept the fact that not all schools are as welcoming as they seem to be, no matter how they promote their campuses as such. As a parent to a child who is on the spectrum, it takes a lot of efforts and research to finally found one. To get you started, here are a few things to take note when shopping for a new haven for your child.
- Scrutinize the different schooling options available. Every child on the spectrum has a different requirement and needs. You need to remember that what could work for another child on ASD might not exactly work for yours.
- Try to browse the net for schools in or near your area. Most schools nowadays are listed online and researching for those located near you can be such a breeze. Make a list of your preferred schools and schedule an appointment.
- Take time to sit and discuss with the school’s representative. During your visit, have a feel on whether the school staff is welcoming and how knowledgeable they are about ASD. It is also important to know if the school has a separate program for students with special needs or if they treat them as equals. Do not forget to check the schools extra-curricular programs. Some schools, especially with active Autism communities, have after-school programs specifically created to cater to children with developmental disorders. This is one great way to hone your kid’s abilities and to improve his social skills.
- If possible, do your visits on a typical school day where kids are abuzz with activities. School “open house” may prove to be welcoming because it is designed to be so. Try to come on “normal” school days to get the actual picture. When visiting, however, do not take your child with you. You will only be adding to his or her confusion that might become a prelude a dislike of schools.
- If you have done transitioning activities with your autistic child, ask the school staff or the principal if it is okay for him or her to do a “visit.” A few minutes of integration with other kids his age can be helpful but, do not overdo it. Limit it in as much as five to ten minutes. Be keenly observant to avoid any meltdown.
- Schools for kids with developmental disorders can be costly. There are schools though which proactively process application for additional funding to help families living with Autism. Check how their enrollment is usually processed.
- Check the school’s security system. Kids on the spectrum need to be in a secure environment due to their different level of vulnerability. Make sure the school has an iron-clad security system to protect your child with autism from harm, and even from bullying.
Indeed, finding a school with a positive vibe in it, and where children with autism are most welcome can be an arduous task. However, hope springs eternal as more and more schools in Canada are opening up to those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In all things else, choose one which you believe will make your child happy.