Arthur’s Dream Autism Trust (ADAT)
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If you are looking for a school for your autistic child. The following factors are important to consider before you admit your child.
One of the things you need to consider is whether there is a school that is as near as possible to you, you do not want to be travelling miles for over an hour to take your child to school.
Find out if the school has made a deliberate effort to make inclusion part of the school curriculum. The children in the school need to be in the know about inclusive education. It is also important to find out if your child will be the only one or are there other children who have the same or in the Autism spectrum.
Find out if there are classrooms that a specially equipped to accommodate your child. The school should either have a separate class room or have a model of inclusion to have your child included in the classroom with other regular students. The school should guide whether your child needs specific separate attention or is ready for integration with other children.
Check whether they have specially trained teachers. A parent should be in a position to ask whether the teachers are trained. Where did they train? Have they worked with autistic children before?
Ask questions around the therapies they are offering. Find out if your child will need these therapies. Once people know that a parent has a child who is differently abled, then they take advantage and charge all sorts of things in the school fees. Therefore it is important to know what specific therapies your autistic child will need.
Find out if the school has an integration plan. In addition to this, check if they have an individualized education plan (IEP), because every child is different. If the school is not working with you towards integrating your child to another classroom, a parent needs to find out why because it might be that your child is not ready for integration. Note also that not all children will be integrated as there will always be children who need extra help with learning. It is however important to consider that your child will need to be integrated socially even if they have academic struggles. Distinguish between the two and have it included in an IEP. Social integration is important for a child as it helps them learn to live in community. See to it that your child is integrated during break time and play time during the school hours; that they take part in extracurricular activities such as soccer, swimming and art etc. When you exclude children with disability, you are telling all the other children not to include them in adulthood. We can have more inclusion by starting early.
Check how much the school is charging you for school fees and judge for yourself whether the plan for is sustainable. Parents tend to handover so much school fees and so much else goes wrong. Remember that your child has a future to prepare for as an adult and therefore cannot spend everything on school fees. There needs to be a balance between your child’s education and all the other needs.