School for kids with autism
If you haven’t seen it already, take a look at the show Atypical on Netflix. This charming series shows what school for kids with autism might be like. Specifically, it shows the experience of a teen on the milder end of the autism spectrum and his family. Sam is an 18-year-old from Connecticut who has a keen interest in animals, especially penguins. He converses fluently and does well academically, but has difficulties in perceiving and responding to other people’s emotions, facial expressions, gestures, body language and hidden meaning in words such as when sarcasm or figures of speech are used. Atypical shows how school for kids with autism can be a barrage to the senses – noisy and full of social demands and norms. But it also shows the beauty of a system in which school for kids with autism is inclusive and integrated. Sam’s own insights into social situations and the difficulties his autism symptoms cause for him in interpreting and responding to these social situations is well-articulated through sessions with his therapist, Julia.
The show has received mostly positive reviews, although criticisms of the first season included insufficient use of autistic actors and some inaccuracies in the portrayal of the character Sam. I must say, I found Freddie Highmore’s portrayal of an individual on the spectrum in The Good Doctor (on DSTV) to be more impressive, but the show’s creators took the feedback they received and have included more scriptwriters and actors with autism for the second season, thus making it more realistic. It is tough to fully capture what autism is and what school for kids with autism will look like, because of the spectrum nature of the disorder. Every child’s experience (and every family’s experience) will be somewhat different because of the difference in symptoms that will present. However, I love watching both shows because it is so interesting to have the perspective of the individual which is so hard for so many of our kids to articulate, and to see how autism plays out later in life when there is so much emphasis on early intervention.
With the right measures in place, school for kids with autism can mean much the same thing as school for kids without autism. What I mean by this is that instead of looking to segregate our kids by making a blanket statement that kids with autism should go to special needs schools or specialist autism schools (of which there are few), each child’s case should be reviewed so that it can be determined whether they need intensive one-on-one intervention, mainstream school attendance with a facilitator, mainstream school attendance without a facilitator with supplemental one-on-one intervention or opportunities for facilitated social interaction, or one of many other individual-specific combinations. Halt your search for a school for kids with autism and visit The Star Academy to find out more about determining the best path for your child’s intervention and education.