Choosing the right school for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome is a process of research and assessment. Each child is unique and it is important to find systems and staff that will best work with his needs.
Researching Schools for Asperger’s Syndrome Children
Make a list of all the schools in the area, public and private and find out what they offer. Look at things like facilities for special needs children, class size, style of teaching and reputation.
Consider the Sensory Needs of the Child
A common trait of Asperger’s Syndrome is an aversion to loud noises and crowds. Try and arrange to spend an hour or two at the school and take note of the following:
- Loud sirens/bells
- Noisy public address systems
- Availability of quiet spots in the playground
- General noise levels in classrooms and corridors
How the School Program is Structured
Most children with Asperger’s Syndrome prefer structure and routine. They do not do so well in an environment that encourages free play and free expression.
What Assistance is Available for a Child with Asperger’s Syndrome
Various types of therapy can be beneficial to children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Find out if the following are available through the school:
- Occupational therapy
- Small group sessions
- Individual therapy
- Aides in the classroom
Advantages of Large Schools
Large public schools often have greater resources as they are catering for a wide cross section of needs. Typically they offer:
- Staff trained in special education
- Speech and language therapists
- School nurse
Advantages of Smaller or Private Schools
Smaller schools may be focused towards a certain style of education or belief system and can work for some children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Here are some things to look out for:
- A focus on an area where the child is gifted – for example, electronics or music
- Smaller classes and greater individual attention
- Less noise and confusion
- Some private schools wear uniforms which can appeal to a child with Asperger’s Syndrome
Homeschooling for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome
In some cases, homeschooling can be a viable option. The child is in familiar surroundings and the parent can set up routines that suit the child and his needs. Many Asperger’s Syndrome children start their education by homeschooling and later move onto a normal school which is important to help with social development.
Evaluating the School’s Attitude to Asperger’s Syndrome
It is essential that the school be informed of a diagnosis or suspicion of Asperger’s Syndrome. During preadmission interviews, look out for the following:
- Staff who understand Asperger’s Syndrome and the implications thereof
- Educators who are willing and able to accommodate a child who differs to the norm
Communicate with the School
Never try and sweep issues under the proverbial carpet. If the child is prone to rages and total shut down, the school needs to know. Arrange a time to speak to those involved with the child’s education and explain what stresses the child and how to handle him if he gets out of hand.
With careful research and preparation, most parents will find a school environment that suits their Asperger’s Syndrome child. The process of working with the school and planning the best approach is ongoing, and with persistence and perseverance, the outcome can be a good one for all concerned.