Finding the right school for your child with autism can be a daunting task. In particular, when both parents work, it becomes especially difficult to find the right school that is located near your home and your work. Many times, parents are forced to move when no suitable schools are available where they live.
Parents who cannot afford a special needs school or a private school are often advised to send their children to a public school. Public schools are required by state law to support children with autism. But that is when many problems start for parents, who have a child on the spectrum. Countless meetings with teachers, school officials and special needs agencies to establish an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is followed by parents anxiously waiting to see if their child’s school will come through and follow the agreed upon IEP to support their child.
Most schools focus more on test scores and overhead sheets than on paying attention to the needs of the individual child. This is often because of the so-called “no child left behind” law.
The Challenge of Educating Kids on the Spectrum in Public Schools
With the rising rate of autism, schools are often overwhelmed and teachers inadequately trained to handle the everyday challenges that come with educating a child with autism. Combine that with school districts sending parents looking for support from one department to the next, from agency to agency and you as parent will find yourself in a maze of bureaucracy and rules and regulations that don’t make sense.
Even schools that claim to be able to teach children with special needs, are often unable to do so. In particular, schools frequently use your child’s behavior as an excuse not to provide any services. If your child’s behavior has any chance of being outside the “norm”, schools will often use the excuse that the school cannot serve the needs of your child. This can lead to a cycle of enormous frustrations for the parents AND the child, as they have to search (yet again) for a new school.
A Trusting Relationship
Whatever school you choose, it is important that a trusting relationship is build right from the start. Teachers need to form a trusting bond with your child. Often, teachers see your child’s behavior as defiant or disruptive rather than behavior stemming from sensory-integrative issues or behavior caused by overwhelming feelings of frustrations.
Since the school issue is such an important topic for parents of an autistic child, additional posts about school-related topics will appear on this blog such as where are the best schools that support autistic children and how to finance a special-ed school.
Image by picjumbo.