The following is a helpful article by Craig Kendall which offers you some different options that are available for teaching children with autism. I find that having small classes of 3 or 4 children with a 1:1 or 1:2 student to teacher ratio works best. Also working in a small classroom which feels cozy works better than a large space where they have a tendency to wander. My teaching Annex is only 300 square feet which may feel small to you but not for the children. It looks and feels like a manger. It is clutter free, clean and comfortable with lots of sunlight. It is important to give some attention to the environment. This may be obvious you may think but I have seen some teaching spaces that have no sunlight, they smell bad and are dirty. No one can teach or learn in an environment that pulls you down. Everyone will be able to think better in a clean, quiet, clutter free space.
Teaching children with autism can be very challenging, but very rewarding. It definitely takes a different skill set to teach children with autism, and a supportive school system to do it well. While many public schools have excellent special education schools, many do not. This is why there are also many great private schools that exist to fill the needs of autistic children in search of a personalized education.
Traditional Classrooms May Not be the Best Way to Teach a Child with Autism
A lot of kids with special needs, including autism, have real problems succeeding in a traditional classroom. Very often, they will need one-on-one instruction to be able to learn. Kids with autism often are distracted by sensory issues and many other things in a traditional classroom. Frequently, they are the target of bullying, which can create self-esteem issues and, of course, greatly affect the child’s concentration and learning.
Individualized Education Programs for Kids with Autism
Many autistic kids require individualized learning programs that public schools often are not able to give. Parents usually try to make public schools work for their kids before looking somewhere else, but sometimes there is no choice. Hence, the rising number of private special education schools for kids with autism.
These schools make teaching children with autism into a whole different kind of journey. They have different theories, smaller classes, and more individualized programs. There is usually a 1:1 or 1:2 student to teacher ratio. There are several kinds of special education schools, from day schools and boarding schools, autism only schools and schools that accept kids with a wide range of disabilities.
Choose a Teaching Style that Fits Your Child with Autism
Teachers in some schools will analyze a child’s learning style, behaviors, strengths and weaknesses to create a teaching style that works well with that child. Other schools have a more one-size-fits-all approach, using theories of behaviorism or applied behavior analysis (ABA) for all kids, without much variation in manner in which they are used.
Specialized Autism Schools
Specialized autism schools usually include the various therapies that they offer in the price and curriculum. Such therapies can include speech, occupational and physical therapies. These therapies, as well as the individualized attention for the kids come with a hefty price tag, however. Schools can often be up to $50-$75,000 a year. However, parents can sometimes get special schools paid by their local school districts as long as they can prove that their local school is not able to meet their child’s needs.
To find these schools, you may want to do an Internet search for them, or ask your local autism society. Most of the time, public schools do an excellent job teaching children with autism but it is important also to know of the other options that are out there.
Parents can often learn which schools are good and which are not from other parents. Let’s face it, information from other parents can help in all areas of raising your child with autism. And a great site that has tips and suggestions for helping to raise your autistic child is the AmericanAutismSociety.org. There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.
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