In choosing the right private school for your autistic child, you’ll need to do some research. Take a close look at many ASD schools, visit each one, and ask many questions.
To gauge a school’s fit, focus on its unique features. Most importantly, take a close look at the school’s autism program, to make sure it’s right for your child. To begin, we suggest looking at five main features of the program.
- Program focus
What is the main focus of the program? Is it behavioral management, language development, socialization, sensory/motor integration, literacy-based learning, activities of daily living, or something else? All are crucial, of course. But you should choose an autism program that addresses your child’s main areas of need, including their strengths and weaknesses.
- Role of parents
Will the school support and openly communicate with you? What is expected of you? A positive relationship between you and school officials is a must for success.
What is the experience, training, and credentials of teachers and staff? Ideally, they should have a minimum of four years experience working with autistic kids. The last thing you need is someone “cutting their teeth” on your child.
What teaching methods and approaches are used in the autism program? What happens if an approach doesn’t work? Will you be informed? Will changes be made? Never accept the explanation that your child is the reason for the failure.
What evaluation tools are used to assess whether or not the program is working and that your child is succeeding? Will the findings be shared with you? Will modifications be made, if needed, to better meet the needs of your child?
Autism school approach
Meeting the needs of an autistic child is no small task. There are countless approaches autism schools use to promote learning and development.
Some of these approaches are experimental. Others may be harmful.
You want to find the ones that are “tried and true.”
Here are some questions to consider when looking at the approach of a private autism school:
- How does the school address your autistic child’s need for structure and routine?
- Will the school notify you about changes in the classroom environment or routine? How are such changes planned and implemented?
- What specialized teaching strategies does the school use and how well do these strategies fit with the particular needs of your child?
- What unique characteristics of your child—autism-related or otherwise—does the school need to know about?
- How does the school’s approach seem to fit with your child’s overall needs?
Any private school you consider should understand the main traits, symptoms, and causes of autism. Most importantly, though, they should have a strong autism program, one that meets your child’s most crucial needs and helps them excel.
Below, we list schools for children with autism in Canada. This includes schools exclusively devoted to supporting autistic kids, as well as those that support kids with other types of special needs or conditions as well. Find an autism school near you.