- 5October 2018
Finding the right school for your autistic kid is really hard. A lot of us don’t even have a choice in picking a school that is friendly to kids on the spectrum, especially if your child is going to a public school.
The reality is that private schools, especially for differently-abled kids, are really expensive. Most people can’t even think of affording them. Having said that, here’s what you can do to make going to school easier for your autistic kid.
1. Make Sure You Talk to All Their Teachers
The state of autism awareness in the country, frankly, isn’t that great, and a lot of educators fail to truly understand autism, let alone how to make class a safe space for autistic children. Improper communication can mean that teachers unfairly target autistic kids for their behavior, and make life a lot harder for them. It’s pretty essential that you speak to them before, and try to get them up to speed before the school year starts.
2. Have a Chat With the Parents Of Your Kid’s Classmates As Well
Social integration remains a huge problem for autistic children. A large part of this has to do with how neither neurotypical children nor their parents are taught how to be kind to and understanding with autistic kids. It’s important that all the kids in the class know to not do anything that amounts to bullying, and are empathetic in understanding difference, and make the child feel included.
3. Get Them a Pair of Noise-Cancelling Headphones
There’s not a lot that can be done for the loud noises that come with a classroom full of children. There are too many kids, and it’s impossible to tell each one of them individually to not make noise around autistic kids.
What you can do is work around it, and buy your kid a pair of good noise-cancelling headphones. It’s an investment that can be revolutionary for your kid’s mental health, in terms of not being constantly overloaded by sensory stimuli. Talk to the school and explain the situation to them first, so they don’t cause issues.
4. Make Sure the School Has a Strong Anti-Bullying Policy
We merely alluded to it above, but autistic children are very often the targets of bullies. This can make it extremely hard for them, because a lot autistic kids don’t tell their parents, or don’t know to tell them that they are facing bullying at school. It can make their mood really bad, and also mean that the emotional strife they face is tenfold. As parents, you can’t change the kids who do the bullying, but you can make sure that the school doesn’t tolerate it when it happens. In the worse of cases, it might be a good idea to ask if someone can chaperone your kid while they’re at school.
5. Try to Find a Community of Parents of Autistic Kids
It can be wonderful connecting with other parents of kids on the spectrum, and banding together to make life a lot easier for both you and your kids. Not only will encouraging autistic kids in the same school to be around each other give them someone who inherently understands them, it will make sure that their visibility normalizes the presence of autistic kids to everyone at the school. Furthermore, multiple parents of autistic kids talking to the school together can really help make lasting change in policy that will help autistic children.
At Orange County for Autism Awareness, we believe in the lasting change autism awareness and early interventions can have on the lives of people on the spectrum. Visit us today for tons of resources on the difference you can make.