Schooling in broad terms refers to “education received at school”, however for a child on the spectrum schooling can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have difficulties with socialisation, they are sensitive to bright light, loud noises and busy hallways, they might also need extra time for assignments and homework, and they can sometimes become easily frustrated. Special needs schooling offer children with Autism or any related disorder a chance to excel in an environment that corresponds with their needs. These children obtain one-on-one individual attention and can learn in an environment that is structured according to their immediate capabilities and needs.
Children with Autism often have extensive and long-term educational needs, and this requires that a multidisciplinary team of individuals are involved, along with thorough planning and ongoing monitoring of progress. Therefore, a cooperative team-based approach is necessary to plan, implement and monitor individualised progress. Special needs schooling is therefore significant in order to experience change in children/individuals with certain day-to-day challenges. Children with Autism can progress in their communication skills, social interactions, problem-solving abilities and learn appropriate behaviours once placed in a setting that encourages and fights for the development of these skills. Offering a safe schooling environment can have a major impact on how these children learn and grow.
There is an extreme need for early intervention today in order to support children/individuals with these types of special needs, however the reality is that these institutions are not always readily available, and they often come with a steep price-tag. Special needs schooling is a specialised trade and therefore more resources, such as specialised facilitators and materials, and time is needed for these children to reach their full potential.
I have had the opportunity to experience a child on the spectrum go to a normal mainstream school as well as a special needs school and the differences between these two forms of schooling is surprising. In a mainstream school a child might just be a number, but in a special needs schooling setting the child is the only number. The child and the child’s progress become the number one priority for facilitators at a special needs schooling level. A facilitator in a special needs schooling environment has an obligation towards the child they invest their time into, therefore the child’s needs come first, and their progression is on the top of the list. In a special needs schooling environment, the child has a safe space to experience normal day-to-day understandings and they also have a structured environment and a place where they can learn based on their own individualised capabilities.
Special needs schooling should become a priority for everyone within society, because we all have an obligation to grow the seeds of tomorrow, today!