Because of how differently autism may present from one child to another, there is no single perfect program that will fit every child. However, certain school districts and states offer better intervention and classroom programs than others. There are private schools that deal only with children with autism and there are many competent charter schools for children on the spectrum as well. As with any child, it is important to research and find the school that fits your autistic child's needs.
The way public schools approach autism changes from state to state, and even district to district. Wisconsin, a state considered to have an excellent education approach to autism, has a waiver program that allows children under 8 with a diagnosis of autism to receive up to 35 hours per week of necessary therapies for free for up to three years and if they still need help after that, they can get slightly reduced hours of therapy for up to three more years. Almost all the school districts have either autism-only or inclusive classrooms, and there is usually at least one autism-specific program per district.
New Jersey is also known for having a high rate of autism and offers autism programs in most districts. Autism New Jersey publishes a list of good schools offering autism services in the state. Check with the special education department in your state's education department to see what their specific autism policies are.
If you are thinking of selecting a residential school for your child it is important to make your presence known. Visit frequently and call regularly. Make sure your child knows what constitutes abuse and what to do in the event an abuse situation occurs. Websites like therapeuticboardingschool.com can help you find and choose an appropriate school for your child. Make sure that the school shares your thoughts on what constitutes abuse and whether or not they can use restraint or isolation on your child if she has a meltdown or behavior.
Southeast Journeys Programs for Asperger's Syndrome in North Carolina specializes in high schoolers with non verbal learning disorder, autism, and ADHD. It combines physical activity with academics and social development.
Southeast Journeys Programs for Asperger's Syndrome 64 Gap Creek Road Zirconia, NC 28790 888.458.8226 aspergersboardingschools.com
Charter schools offer students on the autism spectrum an experience similar to extremely expensive private autism schools, but with the added benefits that they are usually free, public and local. These schools are becoming easier to find as parents take power into their own hands to build the schools their children need. The Florida Autism Charter School of Excellence offers pre-K through 12th grade for students with moderate to severe autism. While programs for Asperger's and high functioning autism are very common, it is difficult to find programs specializing in children with more severe needs, which is part of what makes the Florida Autism Charter School of Excellence such a unique program.
Florida Autism Charter School of Excellence 6400 E. Chelsea St. Tampa, FL 33610 813-621-FACE (3223) faceprogram.org
Private Day Schools
Unlike most public school programs, private autism schools almost never offer integrated programs with typical children. They can be relatively easy to find as there are at least a few in every state. These schools tend to be prohibitively expensive for many parents, but if your child's needs are not being met at his local school it may be possible to convince your local school board to absorb the cost. Be aware that some of these schools are for children from ages 3 up to 21 with mixed age and ability groups.
Capitol School of Austin Texas offers a day program for preschoolers and K-through-3, as well as offering occupational therapy (useful life skills in the context of very young children), art and music therapies as well as extracurriculars, including a summer camp. The school is designed for children with language and learning difficulties who are not intellectually handicapped.
Capitol School of Austin 2011 W. Koenig Lane Austin, TX 78756 (512)467-7006 capitolschool.com
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