Choosing the Right School for Your Child on the Spectrum
If you have a child on the Autism Spectrum, you may experience ups and downs regarding their school. A school is an unfamiliar environment outside the child’s comfort zone. It’s sensory overload, from noise to smells and textures. But if done right, it can provide the right learning environment and increase their social and emotional learning.
As a parent, you must trust another adult to take care of your child. This adult must understand their needs and give them the hug you would give them when they needed it. Placement of your little one into this new and frightening world can be difficult, and you need to feel comfortable with your decision. Let’s face it – they’ll be there for a long time!
Since every child is different, they will learn in different ways when it comes to education. I like the quote:
“If a child is having difficulties learning the way we teach, then maybe we should be teaching them in the way they learn.”
We should go at the child’s pace and figure out what they need and what interests them in a way that allows them to learn. From the age of 2 to now, I have always had a positive relationship with my child’s schooling. My son’s teachers have realized that to engage him, the subject needs to be a topic that interests him. Even though it’s difficult to include Godzilla in a topic, they somehow manage it!
Rather than follow the same path as the other students, they let him choose his reading book. Chip and Biff do not interest him, so he refuses to read them. Allowing him to choose a book about Space or Sea Creatures, for example, encourages him to be independent.
In addition, he’s more likely to thrive on the challenge of reading and enjoy the process. Though he has difficulty writing his spelling down, he has no problem telling us the spelling orally. His teachers need to know that he understands the letters, though. So, instead of writing his spelling, he now sees all the letters in front of him and puts them together using letter cards. He no longer has to worry about writing it out, which takes the anxiety away. For us, it’s critical that the school recognizes his potential and adapts.
Another favorite quote:
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”
I recently came across a video of a trip that my son’s school took. It was a visit to our local harbor. A loud siren from the lifeboat station sounded as I watched the video, eager to find my son. Immediately, I started panicking, praying he had his ear defenders on. As I found him, I watched him lean into his keyworker, as she covered his ears with her hands. A smile spread across his face. My eyes filled with tears. At that point, I knew I had chosen the right school.
It is imperative to trust these people not just to educate your child at school but to give them that extra confidence – to know they will be taken care of when their normal guardian isn’t there.
Hear more about Bexy’s experience as a mother to a child on the Autism Spectrum here.