Sending an Autistic Child to Public School

With careful planning and communication with school officials, sending an autistic child to public school can be a positive experience.

Ruben Kesherim
June 22, 2023

Sending an Autistic Child to Public School

Sending an autistic child to public school can be a daunting decision for parents. Public schools are often not equipped to handle the unique needs of autistic children, and parents may worry that their child will not receive the support they need to succeed academically and socially.

First and foremost, it is important for parents to understand their child's needs and strengths.

Autistic children have a wide range of abilities and challenges, and it is important for parents to work with teachers and administrators to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that addresses their child's specific needs.

public schools and autism

An IEP is a written plan outlining the educational goals and services that will be provided to the child, and it is developed by a team that includes the parents, teachers, and other professionals.

One of the most important considerations when sending an autistic child to public school is the quality of the school's special education program.

Parents should research the school's policies and programs for serving autistic students, and they should schedule meetings with administrators and teachers to discuss their child's needs.

It is also important for parents to tour the school and observe classrooms to ensure that the environment is safe and supportive for their child.

Another important factor to consider when sending an autistic child to public school is communication.

Parents should establish open lines of communication with their child's teachers and administrators, and they should work together to develop strategies for addressing any challenges that may arise. Parents should also communicate with their child about their school experience and listen to their feedback and concerns.

It is also important for parents to advocate for their child's rights and needs. Parents should be familiar with the laws and regulations that protect the rights of students with disabilities, and they should work with school officials to ensure that their child is receiving the appropriate services and accommodations.

This may include accommodations such as a quiet workspace, extra time on tests, or assistive technology.

In addition to academic support, it is important for autistic children to receive social and emotional support in school.

Parents should work with teachers and administrators to ensure that their child has opportunities to socialize and develop friendships, and they should also monitor their child's mental health and well-being.

Finally, parents should be prepared to adapt and adjust their plans as their child's needs change. As children grow and develop, their needs may change, and it is important for parents to work with school officials to modify their child's IEP and ensure that their child is receiving the support they need to succeed.

Pros

There are several advantages to sending an autistic child to public school. One of the biggest benefits is the opportunity for socialization with peers who have diverse backgrounds and abilities.

This can help autistic children develop important social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and empathy.

In addition, public schools often have a wider variety of resources and services available to students with disabilities than private schools or homeschooling.

These resources may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, counseling services, and assistive technology.

Public schools also provide a structured environment that can be beneficial for autistic children. The routine and predictability of the school day can help reduce anxiety and stress for some students.

Furthermore, attending public school can give autistic children a greater sense of independence and autonomy. They can learn how to navigate new environments and situations on their own, with support from teachers and administrators.

Overall, while there are certainly challenges to sending an autistic child to public school, there are also many potential benefits that should not be overlooked. With careful planning and collaboration between parents, educators, and other professionals, it is possible for autistic children to thrive in a public school setting.

Cons

Despite the potential benefits of sending an autistic child to public school, there are also some notable challenges and drawbacks that parents should be aware of.

One major concern is the lack of individualized attention that students with disabilities may receive in a large public school setting. Teachers may not have the time or resources to provide one-on-one support to every student, and this can make it difficult for autistic children to receive the personalized instruction they need.

Another challenge is the potential for bullying and social isolation.

Autistic children may struggle to make friends or communicate effectively with their peers, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and exclusion. In some cases, they may also be targeted by bullies who do not understand their differences.

Additionally, navigating the complex education system and advocating for their child's needs can be overwhelming and time-consuming for parents. They may need to attend multiple meetings with teachers and administrators, fill out extensive paperwork, and stay up-to-date on changes in laws and regulations.

Finally, some parents may be concerned about the quality of education their child will receive in a public school setting.

While many schools have strong special education programs, others may not have the resources or expertise to effectively serve autistic students.

It is important for parents to carefully weigh these potential drawbacks against the benefits when making a decision about sending an autistic child to public school.

With proper planning and support from educators and other professionals, however, it is possible for autistic children to succeed academically and socially in a public school environment.

Choosing A Public School

When choosing a public school for your autistic child, it's important to consider the school's location and transportation options. Some schools may be located too far away or may not offer accessible transportation, which can make it difficult for parents to get their child to and from school.

It's also important to consider the size of the school and class sizes. Smaller schools and classes may be more beneficial for autistic children who require individualized attention and support.

Additionally, parents should consider the availability of extracurricular activities that align with their child's interests.

Another factor to consider is the school's approach to discipline. Autistic children may have difficulty following rules or understanding consequences, so it's important for parents to choose a school that has a positive behavior support system in place rather than relying on punishment-based discipline.

Finally, parents should take into account their own level of involvement in their child's education. Some schools may require more parent participation than others, such as attending regular meetings or volunteering in the classroom. Parents should choose a school that aligns with their own schedules and availability for involvement.

Public vs. Private Schools For Autistic Children

When considering educational options for their autistic child, parents may also consider private schools.

Private schools can offer a smaller and more individualized learning environment, which may be beneficial for some autistic children.

Additionally, private schools often have more flexibility in their curriculum and teaching methods, which can allow for a more tailored approach to each student's needs.

However, private schools can also be expensive and may not offer the same level of resources and services as public schools.

Parents should carefully research any private school they are considering and ensure that it has a strong special education program that is equipped to meet the needs of autistic students.

Another option that some parents may consider is homeschooling. Homeschooling allows for complete customization of the curriculum and learning environment, but it also requires a significant amount of time and effort on the part of the parent.

Additionally, homeschooling can limit socialization opportunities for autistic children, which is an important aspect of their development.

Ultimately, the decision about whether to send an autistic child to public or private school (or to homeschool) will depend on each family's unique circumstances and preferences.

Regardless of which option is chosen, it is important for parents to work closely with educators and other professionals to ensure that their child receives the support they need to succeed academically and socially.

FAQs

What is an IEP?

An IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, is a written plan outlining the educational goals and services that will be provided to a child with disabilities. It is developed by a team that includes the parents, teachers, and other professionals.

How can I ensure that my child receives appropriate accommodations in school?

Parents should work with teachers and administrators to develop an appropriate accommodation plan for their child. This may include accommodations such as a quiet workspace, extra time on tests, or assistive technology. Parents should also be familiar with the laws and regulations that protect the rights of students with disabilities.

What social opportunities are available for autistic children in public schools?

Public schools often offer a variety of clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities that can provide socialization opportunities for autistic children. Parents should work with teachers and administrators to identify activities that align with their child's interests.

How can I help my child prepare for the transition to public school?

Parents can help their child prepare for the transition to public school by visiting the school before classes begin, meeting with teachers and administrators, and practicing routines and schedules at home. It may also be helpful to read books or watch videos about going to school.

What should I do if I am not satisfied with my child's education in public school?

If parents are not satisfied with their child's education in public school, they should first discuss their concerns with teachers and administrators. If this does not resolve the issue, they may consider filing a complaint or requesting mediation through their state's Department of Education.

Summary

In conclusion, sending an autistic child to public school can be a positive experience with careful planning and communication.

Parents should work with school officials to develop an IEP that addresses their child's specific needs, research the school's special education program, establish open lines of communication, advocate for their child's rights and needs, ensure that their child receives social and emotional support, and be prepared to adapt and adjust their plans as necessary.

By working together, parents and school officials can create a supportive and inclusive environment for autistic children to thrive in.

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