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By Rachel Evans
It’s difficult for any parent to get used to the idea of sending their children away to school, and perhaps even harder for parents of special needs children, such as those who suffer from autism, to do so.
Is your child getting a good education? Are other children treating him or her fairly? Will your child enjoy this new situation?
Many schools are now set in place to put these fears to rest by solely devoting their attention towards special needs children, and the concept of sending an autistic child to residential school for autistic children instead of a day school program is becoming more popular among parents.
Although it may be difficult to adjust to your child living away from home, this may be where the best care and education is available for you child, so carefully consider the advantages before dismissing the idea of residential school for your autistic child.
Residential school programs are often no different than day school programs, but here the student has the opportunity to interact with others outside of a classroom setting.
This is sometimes exactly what an autistic child needs to learn socialization skills with people outside of the family. These schools are also very safe and organized in a way that is conducive to learning.
For example, Franklin Academy in Connecticut, which specializes in teaching non-
This is as opposed to day schools, which typically have larger class sizes and therefore cannot handle public outings. Even if the day school specializes in teaching autistic children, they simply may not have the resources and time during the school day for field trips.
Another advantage over day schools, whether public of private, is the living aspect. Although the students who attend these schools are greatly supervised, they learn living skills that they will need in an adult world.
Whereas you may feel obligated or want to do things for your child at home, at a residential school, your child will be encouraged to live more independently. At Brehm Preparatory School in Illinois, students learn time and money management and are in charge of simple home maintenance (chores), study time, and recreational activities. Here also, the emphasis is on family.
Family is an important thing to consider with any type of residential school. While your child is learning valuable social skills, he or she may become more distant from his or her immediate family. At schools like Brehm, including Hampshire Country School in New Hampshire, have parents’ weekend often to so parents can visit their children.
Consider also the stress this may relieve for you and your family. Since you will need to spend less time helping your autistic child with learning everyday life skills, you can devote more time to enjoying their company when you see them. Spend time on your marriage and with your other children, activities that would normally be hard to achieve or ignored with an autistic child at home.
However, it is important to note that residential schooling is not for everyone. Typically, your child needs to be high functioning to handle this school atmosphere.
You will need to consider cost, since tuition , room, and board for residential schools can be quite expensive. Remember, residential school is not for everyone, but you should definitely consider the option.
Research this type of program so that you can make the best decisions possible for your child’s education.
Rachel Evans For information and to signup for a Free Newsletter about Autism please visit The Essential Guide to Autism
Education For Autistic Children
Note from Jean
I've been very lucky with Jodi's schooling. He has always attended a school for children with special needs where the teaching staff have always included him. However, others have not been so fortunate.
In September 2006 it was reported by the Children's Commissioner for England that education for autistic children in UK was "shocking" and "appalling".
There are an estimated 90,000 children with a diagnosed form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder but there are most likely many whose problems have not been officially recognised. However, there are only 8,000 suitable educational places available in special schools. The government have promised a review.
The National Autistic Society feel the education system fails autistic children and their individual needs are not being met. They are spearheading a campaign called Make Education Make Sense.
Being able to access education is a legal right but apparently 25% of children on the autistic spectrum are excluded, and 40% have been bullied.
With such a spectrum of disability each autistic child will have different needs and strengths and if our children are to be accepted in mainstream schools then teachers need more training.
Simple adjustments can make a lot of difference. Autistic children need lots of visual aids and a quiet place to go when they feel overloaded.
Many parents feel if their child is quiet and content to sit by themselves doing relatively little they get left to their own devices. Teachers attend to more demanding children.
In such circumstances it could be desirable to try home schooling. I have a friend who took her son out of school for five years. She taught him at home with considerable success.
He is now back at the same school and is flourishing. He actively joins in the activities and lessons but without her one-
Whatever you decide to do though remember it has to be right for the whole family. If you attempt home schooling with the wrong attitude then your chances of success are slim. It's not easy and must be something you want to do rather than have to do.
Some of the things you may need to consider about home-
.What would the effect of home schooling be in relation to other obligations, i.e. family, work
.Would your child be able to develop social and relationship skills if home schooled?
.If your autistic child was home schooled, how would your other children feel, or would you home school them as well?
.Could you get funding and advice from the education department to help you?
It's not always straightforward and I'm told many people have to fight for funding.
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