Finding the right school for your autistic child can prove to be a challenge, but isn't impossible. More and more parents of autistic children are choosing to homeschool their childred. However, homeschooling isn't always an option. Private schools are often the best alternative for autistic children.
Why Private School?
Autism is a spectrum disorder. There's no mold that fits all autistic children. They may have similarities in one area, yet be completely different in another. As the parent of an autistic child, you know where your child's special needs require attention. Public schools do their best to accommodate these special children, and for some they are a good fit. However, if you can find a private school, you may discover that they are better able to give your child the individual attention they need.
Private schools by and large have fewer children per classroom than public schools. This creates a lower child to teacher ratio. Teachers in private schools can usually work more intimately with children than those in many public schools.
Private schools are not bound to the same curriculum as public schools. This allows parents to have input into their child's education. It also allows private schools more liberty with allowing children to learn in a manner that is best suited for them.
The bottom line is that your child is unique. You know your child's needs better than anyone. Enrolling your autistic child in a private school will provide you with the input you need to have, and your child with the attention they require.
Choosing a Private School
In some ways, finding a private school for an autistic child is no different from finding one for any child. Children are individuals and parents look for a school that functions in a manner that is suited for their child.
Upon contacting a private school, you may want to explain that your child is autistic. Since they are not publicly funded, they are often able to restrict their enrollment, and some private schools do not accept children with autism. It pays to mention it before making a trip to visit. There may be a private school in your area that specializes in autism.
Once you have found a private school you would like to visit, you might want to make a checklist of things to look for and ask about. Some things to consider having on your checklist include:
- How are behavioral issues handled? You may want to discuss any potential issues your child may present, and ask how they would be handled.
- How many children are there per classroom?
- Is there a trained nurse or staff member that is familiar with children on the autism spectrum?
- Is the school open to parents dropping in throughout the day?
- How will the school communicate with you and how often? Do they have parent/teacher conferences? Will they call or email you should something arise? Do they send information home with the children? If so, how often?
You may want to write these down along with any other questions you want to ask.
Most private schools will allow you to bring your child to the school to visit. When possible, make that visit during school hours. You will want to see how your child responds to the environment, and very importantly, how staff interacts with your child.
In the end, you will know what the best choice is for you and your child.