Parents often wonder what school is best for their child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The truth is that different schools are the right fit for different students. Public or private isn’t nearly as important as how the people at the school interact with your child. Some children with Autism thrive in a public school setting, even those who are nonverbal. Unfortunately, many also face bullying, teachers that fail to recognize behaviors caused by ASD, and a variety of other factors that lead to poor academic and social progress.
How are special schools for ASD different?
Schools that specialize in teaching students with Autism tend have a much lower teacher to student ratio than public schools, often 1:3 or 1:4. They also appreciate that every child is different and the learning style that works for one may not work for another. At Sarah Dooley Center for Autism, we take this a step further by providing each student with a comprehensive assessment, including a range of skill such as attending, listening, speaking, matching, imitating, reading, writing, math, communication, physical and social. Parents and the placing agency then work together to develop individualized academic and behavioral plans.
It is critical that you and your child’s teacher know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If your child’s school does not offer a comprehensive assessment, you may consider using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) to evaluate communication and social behavior. Your pediatrician should be able to connect you with someone who is qualified to conduct the ADOS.
Other ways you can help your child succeed at school
- Provide teachers and administrators with simple instructions on how to relate to your child and help him follow directions.
- Volunteer for school activities, events or join the PTA. It is much easier to get to know your child’s teacher and stay up to date on events when you are involved with the school.
- Bring in an expert. A therapist or former teacher can help explain your child’s needs and develop learning strategies.
- Show your support and gratitude. Discuss your expectations for your child’s progress, but also realize that children with ASD require more work and attention from teachers, so it’s important to express your appreciation.
If you would like to learn more about the services offered at the Sara Dooley Center for Autism and how we are different from your current school, contact us here.