Autistic children have unique and special learning needs, so choosing a school is a major decision that can affect their overall development and educational journey. Autism is a diverse spectrum, meaning that every autistic child will not require the same level of support or have the same needs. When choosing a school for an autistic student, there are some important things you should consider, and in this blog, we will be diving into all of the details. Whether you’re in Chicago or anywhere else, these tips will help you make an informed decision.
Considering the Autism Spectrum
Autism is a developmental disorder that has different effects on individuals. To select the perfect school for your autistic child or loved one, you must consider their autistic spectrum. Some children may have sensory hyper and hypo sensitivities that involve responses to environmental stimuli like sound, physical touch, sights, smells, and even textures. Students may require more or less support around communication, social skills, and behavior. Other autistic children may have comorbid conditions like ADHD, so it’s important to recognize this spectrum diversity.
Depending on your child’s special needs, the child may either thrive and blossom in a general education classroom among other children with little support. Other students may be able to spend part of their day in a general education classroom with extra supports throughout the day. Others may need a specialized classroom or school that can best support their needs. If your child has sensory sensitivities or ADHD, it’s necessary to find a school that takes these into consideration and addresses them fully.
Another thing you must consider is the child’s learning style. Your child may or may not benefit from a structured learning environment, so putting them in a regular classroom may impact their learning process. Other autistic children benefit from more creative and flexible approaches to learning; that’s why observing and recognizing their learning styles is crucial for selecting a school.
To better understand your child’s learning style, you can consult with professionals who have experience working with autistic children, observe their behavior or reaction to certain stimuli, and conduct a formal assessment. This is necessary for you to know exactly where your child is on the spectrum.
By considering these key things, you can tailor your school search to ensure that it aligns with your child’s needs, strengths, and unique challenges.
Asking the Right Questions
Before you finally decide on a school, there are some key questions you have to ask. When you meet with educators or visit schools, here are some of the questions you should ask;
- What strategies are in place to address and support sensory sensitivities or overload?
- How does this school accommodate or cater to autistic students?
- How does the school cater to students with ADHD and other comorbid conditions?
- What is the teacher-to-student ration in the classrooms?
- Do they offer speech and occupational therapy?
- Do the children receive personal attention?
- What training do staff have in supporting the needs of autistic students?
The school’s physical environment is another crucial factor to evaluate because it plays a vital role in the overall success of an autistic child. Observe the following things about the environment;
- The size of the classroom
- Sensory-friendly designated areas and spaces for sensory breaks.
- Minimal noise and ample control of noise levels.
- Measures put in place to ensure that the children are safe.
Once you have asked all these questions and gotten positive answers, you can make a more informed solid decision.
At City Elementary, we recognize that children have a wide spectrum, so we teach emotional and social building along with academic subjects. Your children receive all-round care and attention to ensure they blossom completely socially, emotionally, and academically.
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