Pros and Cons of Autism-Specific School

All parents want their child to get the best education possible, and parents of children with autism are no different.

Whether you have known your child is on the autism spectrum for quite some time or were recently given the news, there are special education programs for children of all ages.

For years, many children with autism did not receive the support they needed in traditional classrooms. In most cases, this was because of a lack of education and resources. So, is an autism-specific school the solution? Here’s what you need to know before you make a decision.

Differences Between Autism-Specific School and Public Schools

Upon surveying parents of children with autism, 77% said their children were attending mainstream schools. It was also found that teachers only felt slightly confident in their ability to support students with autism.

Although each child with autism is unique, many will struggle with social skills. Since classrooms are social environments, this can cause feelings of stress and anxiety for children with autism. There are also concerns surrounding the barriers to providing better care for students with autism, including a lack of knowledge, training, funding, specialist staff, and resourcing.

Recommended reading: Autism and Anxiety

Are There Autism Programs in Public Schools?

Most schools offer specialized programs for children with autism, implementing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). These plans strive to make accommodations based on each child’s needs. In that sense, there are not a lot of programs developed specifically for children with autism. Children with mild autism often benefit from the IEP process. However, if your child has more severe symptoms or is not comfortable in a traditional school environment, consider a private, specialized school.

Does My Child Need Special Education?

If your child with autism is not thriving in general education classrooms, then look into a school that exclusively serves children on the spectrum. If your child or child’s teacher has expressed concerns, or you would like your child to experience a more immersive, inclusive school setting, special education is a great solution.

Pros of an Autism-Specific School

  • Children with autism get individualized attention and a more specialized approach.
    • With smaller class sizes and a dedicated autism community, the Pingree Center can develop a personalized program to assist with your child’s education and personal growth. 
  • Class sizes are typically smaller, allowing them to focus on their interests and abilities.
    • In addition to providing a higher level of attention to each student, smaller class sizes can also help ease additional anxiety or stimulation that may typically occur from a large classroom. 
  • Children have access to highly qualified specialists. 
  • Children have access to resources they wouldn’t normally have, which can make all the difference in terms of their development.
    • Your children’s development is an important part of their education. The resources that are provided at the Pingree Center will make sure to fulfill in every educational aspect that is necessary for your child to succeed.  
  • Since they do not need to focus as much on the social behaviors of neurotypical peers, they will get more out of their learning experience.
    • This allows your child space to focus most of their attention on gaining knowledge in educational programs.

Cons of an Autism-Specific School

  • Not all schools will address your child’s needs, which is why you’ll need to work with an autism school that offers a wide variety of programs and resources.
    • In addition, not all schools provide trained professionals to teach with the patience that is necessary for your child. This is another factor to consider. 
  • Children may not learn to adapt to certain situations as easily unless they work with a team that understands their challenges and helps them overcome them — setting them up for real-world settings. 
    • Also consider that it is important for your child to be surrounded by a community that challenges them to adapt to real world situations. 
    • Exposure to peers, and age appropriate social models, are also important to support the social development of your child 

There is no “right” choice for all children with autism. That is why you should explore several options. If you like the structure and support offered by an autism-specific school, but want more of a balance, seek opportunities in the community that allow your child to work on their strengths and weaknesses.

Learn more about how Carmen B. Pingree can change your child’s life today!