What should you look for when you look for Schools for Autism Treatment? Many parents are not willing to give up on their children but, often don’t know where to start or what to look for. These are desperate parents who often receive little aid in finding the best placement for their child. After putting this question into a search engine, you also realize that finding the right information more closely resembles cutting your way through a rainforest rather than searching for water in the desert. You find yourself surrounded by different schools, approaches, therapies, beliefs and advice. Well, here is one more article in your search for a school for your child. The goal is to give you some guidelines in your search. In my opinion, the following aspects are essential elements of any school for autism:
Child-centred Schools for autism treatment
Teaching a child with autism using a standardized curriculum is a recipe for failure and disaster. It’s true that many of children on the spectrum can be mainstreamed, but this often only occurs after an individualized treatment program has been implemented. The curriculum should be based on your child’s needs. There is nothing wrong with having your child join a mainstream curriculum as a goal, but then your child needs to have the skills to be successful in such an environment. Thus, the skills they require right now, should be identified and taught.
Evidence-based Schools for autism treatment
What a wonderful phrase to slap on your website! All you really need is one half-hearted study with a sample size of five-ish individuals that did pretty well to call your intervention science-based. My advice: call them out on it. Check their science and see what they mean by that phrase. Science based means that all the evidence, carefully gathered, points towards the teaching method working. When looking for a school for your child with autism, you want one that you know uses an approach that is effective at teaching, not one that hopes it is.
Constant re-evaluation of the teaching method
Whose fault is it when a child, any child, is not learning? That’s a difficult question and probably has many answers but one thing stays constant; if you have a teaching method that is not teaching, then it’s not really a teaching method, is it? Re-evaluating the way a teacher teaches is essential for effective teaching. When asking, “am I teaching in a manner that is best for this child” often the answer cannot be found by taking a long hard look at yourself in the mirror, since no mirror gives a 100% accurate reflection of the real world. The true mark of the success of a teaching intervention is the results as demonstrated by objective data. It takes courage and practice to evaluate yourself without emotion and is the mark of a truly effective educator.
Ethical Schools for autism treatment
What does it mean for schools for autism treatment to be ethical? It means that they do what is best for the child with the minimal amount of harm and taking into consideration the individual situation the child finds herself in. It means that the educator, is not just filling up the teacher-sized hole in the classroom, but is transforming that classroom into a world where happiness and learning are a reality, not an ideal. That doesn’t exclude all tears and heartache. It is important for an educator to understand when the benefits of what a child can learn outweighs the difficulty in learning it.
Considers prerequisite skills
I can’t count the number of times I have heard a parent or educator at schools for autism treatment say that a child can’t do something with a tone of finality in their voice. The phrase is a dead-end street with nowhere to go. Well, normally when I drive into a dead-end street I turn around, go back, and look where I went wrong. If a child is not learning something, it may very well be that they don’t have the foundational skills required to be successful. With the right prerequisite skills in place, it makes all related future skills far easier to teach and, ideally, puts the child in a position where they can learn, at least some of the new skill, by themselves. This is true whether you are on the autism spectrum or not.
A healthy balance between optimistic and realistic
Unfortunately, most people tend to underestimate our unique children. It’s easy to do, since it’s often harder for these children to achieve their potential. However, it would take a much more intelligent person than myself, or anyone I have ever met, to accurately be able to gauge the potential of any person they meet. Children on the spectrum often can’t demonstrate their potential to us, unless we give them the opportunity to do so. That said, beware of promises that sound too good to be true. It is true that many children on the spectrum are capable of living meaningful, happy and independent lives, but the path to that outcome is lined with achievable goals and takes a lot of sweat and time. Anyone offering a quick solution, is either only offering a small part of what your child needs, don’t know what they are talking about or is lying.
It’s a team sport
One of the measures of a successful education at schools for autism treatment is involved parents. This is especially true for children with developmental delays. Schools for autism treatment should encourage parents, and other professionals, to be part of a team, but should also create opportunities for this team to meet, discuss and implement. Consistency cannot be overstated. When the child is presented with the same way of teaching, the same expectations and the same lessons in many different environments and by everyone in their life, their education will receive a jump start. That development gap, which at first seemed unbridgeable, will slowly become less and less daunting when everyone is building the bridge together.
Focus on functional change
To make real, functional change, it must be realized that school is only part of a child’s environment and that the majority of that child’s future life will be outside of school. Sometimes a line should be drawn between what a child “should” learn and what is in their best interest to learn. A school for children on the autism spectrum should recognize the individual challenges and identify where they can make the biggest difference and teach accordingly.
Is based on motivation
The move away from punishment in schools has happened for a reason. It’s becoming clear that not only does punishment impoverish the teach experience, it may also cause unforeseen problems, like a child too scared of a teacher to ask questions. By finding what motivates a child, not only do you make the school a desirable place to be, you can teach more effectively.
Individual and intensive attention
The smaller the classroom the more individual attention children in schools for autism treatment can receive. In many ways 1 child to 1 teacher is the ideal situation, as long as a plan is made for integration into a group, later on. The truth is that children on the spectrum learn slower, thus they need more attention and more time spent on learning. Slow learning and developmental delays do not have to be the status quo. Teach a child to learn through an effective teaching program and they won’t need long hours and intensive intervention anymore.
Working themselves out a job
The dream of a school for autism should be to close down because of a lack services needed. If a schools for autism treatment do not have this dream at its heart, it’s missing the point. A schools for autism treatment should be striving towards a world where everyone is capable of living happy and independent lives. What a wonderful world it would be if the alternative was impossible.
– Philip Viljoen (case supervisor and board certified autism technician)