Questions to Ask
Questions to ask before deciding on a school:
- What is the class size? Is there a teacher’s assistant in the class?
- What is the teacher’s experience with children on the autism spectrum?
- What kinds of programs can your school offer? Note: Some schools have classrooms and programs specifically set up for children with autism. Others have general purpose special needs classes. Still others have no special settings, but integrate all children into typical classes. Find out what is available and then decide what environment is best for your child.
- What supports are available (i.e. speech, physical, or occupational therapy, personal aide etc.)?
- What is the level of communication? Will there be daily or weekly updates? Will this be in the form of a notebook going back-and-forth, e-mail, etc.?
- Consider your child’s specific needs and behaviors (i.e. Will your child attempt to leave school? If your child has frequent tantrums, ask the school how they will address this issues.)
- How secure is the school? (Is there an intercom system? Are all outside doors leading in locked?)
- How does your school work with outside organizations (i.e. specialists your child sees outside of school)?
- Are there parents I can talk to who have a child on the autism spectrum that attend this school?
Things to Consider
- Consider your child’s academic level. It is important to find a setting that accommodates your child’s gifts as well as his/her challenges.
- How does your child handle a lot of sensory input such as bright lights, loud noise, large groups, etc.? While it may be possible to minimize these issues, if your child is extremely sensitive, a smaller quieter setting may be best.
- How does your child focus? Is he/she easily distracted? Consider this when going through the classroom and figure out what may be a distraction.
- When you tour the school, do so when classes are in session. How does the school atmosphere feel? If necessary, tour the school alone so you can have all of your attention focused on the school itself. Arrange to take another tour with child at a later date.