You cried the tears upon learning your child was autistic. You’ve seen the progress he or she has made in early child development programs, and now it’s time to enroll him or her in school.
Since you’ve come this far as a champion for your special-needs child, you must continue to do so now that he or she is in school. That’s why you must find the right school district that will accommodate and accept your child’s needs. Yes, it will be a challenge.
Autism affects 1 in 68 children
Autism has become more prevalent in society. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism. The disorder is nearly five times more common in boys than girls. The data notes that 1 in 42 boys is diagnosed with autism, compared with 1 in 189 girls.
You would think that with more autistic children among student bodies that schools would know the best ways to accommodate them. That’s not always true.
Every school has a different approach toward special education, but you will find that a number of school districts are ill-prepared in dealing with autistic children. The school’s teachers may not have the best training, their programs may be woefully out-of-date and the classrooms may not be integrated with special needs students.
Research the schools, trust instincts
That’s why in some cases parents are forced to become instant experts the complexities of their children’s conditions as well as their disability rights. Learn as much as you can about autism, consider joining support groups, talk with other parents, or consult with a seasoned autism expert.
If you’ve done thorough research about the school, its special education program as well as its teachers, then you may have gained some sense of comfort. This will require a few school visits and discussions with teachers and administration.
Trust your instincts, too. A veteran special education teacher may not always be the best one for your child. Has this person kept up-to-date with teaching programs and advancements? How does this instructor relate to the students?
Strong IEP in place
Also make sure that your child has a strong Individualized Education Program (IEP) in place. An IEP – a plan developed by school staff members along with parents and sometimes children – ensures your child’s services and accommodations. If you believe the IEP is too vague, consult with an advocate or experienced parents who may have children with similar conditions.
A different school may be solution
You may have done all the preparation possible, but what if your child is struggling in school academically and socially? Meet with the teachers in hopes of solving any new challenges. But maybe this school’s program is not the right one for your child. If that’s the case, you may have to remove your child and enroll him or her into a different school.
The right support and treatment plan can ultimately help your child thrive in school, but you have to be vigilant and know what learning environment is best for your child. You want to make sure that this school is the right fit.