Why Children With Autism Thrive In A School Setting

Children with autism and ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders) often struggle with communication, social situations, anxiety and other behaviors. Even so, children with autism and ASDs can thrive in a school setting, some even going on to attend college and secure jobs or volunteer work.

Why Education Is Important To Children With Autism

Education is important to all children, even those without autism.  What we learn in school goes beyond reading, writing and math. School is where we make friends, learn how to handle difficult situations, communicate with adults and interact in different social situations.

Navigating these everyday situations can be difficult, but even more so for children with autism who may learn differently, be sensitive to disruptions in schedule, loud noises or new situations.  Additionally, children with autism have more difficulty applying the skills they learn in the classroom to real life situations. But when attending the right school for them, children with autism learn important socialization, communication and important life skills and can practice these skills in a safe, caring environment.

What Type Of School Is Best For Children With ASD?

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Learning at Sarah Dooley

This really depends on a variety of factors including the child, their specific challenges, the school, teachers and family resources. Some children with autism do well integrated into public school classrooms, while others, especially those with more behavior or communication problems, often benefit from a low-sensory environment led by specially trained teachers, specific curriculums and smaller class sizes.

At the Sarah Dooley Center For Autism every aspect of our instruction is based in research and evidence-based practices. To address students’ challenges in communication, social skills and repetitive behaviors, we ensure:
1. Every student has a way to communicate.
2. Every student has many social opportunities at school and in the community.
3. Our comprehensive approach to behavior supports socially appropriate behavior.

For students who require it, we implement individualized behavior plans to teach appropriate behaviors while addressing maladaptive behaviors.

Communication and social opportunities begin as soon as the student arrives at the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism. We offer fully integrated speech and language services through an on-staff Speech-Language Pathologist. Social interactions are not only available in specific time blocks, but are integrated throughout the day.

Our private school serves children around the Richmond area, ages 5 to 22 diagnosed with autism and other related developmental disabilities and supports them in acquiring skills and learning behaviors that will increase their success in higher education and adulthood.

An Autism Education Success Story

In a recent news story, we profiled Reneé, a student who came to the Sarah Dooley Center For Autism after struggling in public school during Kindergarten. Renee had no means of communicating, and would often lash out and hit her teachers and classmates when her wants or needs were not met.


Renee ready for the bus on her first day back to public school.

She came to the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism where her instructors taught her to communicate by labeling items in the classroom, from toys to food to technology. Reneé learned to use new words, and how to ask for things she wanted without getting frustrated.

After gaining the basic ability to say “yes” or “no,” she continued to develop additional communication skills that unlocked her world. Learning to communicate enabled Reneé to read, solve math problems, and engage her community on field trips to places like restaurants and movie theaters.

The skills she learned in a specialized environment prepared Reneé to return to public school where she is now doing exceptionally well in fourth grade. She is talking more than ever, has limited behavioral issues, and is much more willing to be flexible and try new things.

If you think the Sarah Dooley Center For Autism might benefit your child, feel free to contact us for more information, or Read more about the curriculum tools we use, our philosophy or meet our staff.

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