As I mentioned previously, it is important to choose the right school for your child, either through the public school system or private school.
If you choose private school that includes therapy, the cost of autism programs is not always in line with the benefits received. You need to consider the overall cost. The diagnosis of autism has likely already put a strain on the family, and now putting yourself into a situation where you are incurring more and more debts is not going to help anyone.
It is important to make a list for yourself as to what you are expecting when looking for school for your child. I did the same when I was looking for a school for Amin. In the end, it led to us moving to another state for a suitable school. It was expensive, yet beneficial for him while it lasted. After two years the school started to expand and the quality of care started to diminish. Sadly we had to remove him rather abruptly due to negligence toward him. It took my son almost 6 months to recover from that experience.
In the mean time I had an ABA therapist come to the house to teach him. He excelled beyond imagination. Those of you with an autistic child know how even little mile-stones are huge for us! His therapist taught him to ask for things, and to tell me “I LOVE YOU” and to hug me, amongst so many other academic and life skills. It worked well until she told us that he needed more socialization, so at that point we decided to put him into public school.
His particular public school had an autism unit. I couldn’t be happier, and he loved to go to school again. His teacher, Ms. Pryce was very loving, affectionate and yet firm at the same time. He loved her, but after a few months he had to move on to another class with a new teacher. This was a little scary for us, considering the difficulty autistic children have with transitions.
Yet, our fears were soon relieved when we met his new teacher Ms. Kim, who was just as loving and wonderful to our son as Ms. Pryce had been. The school had a great plan to make them use to the new room and the new teacher. He even wanted to go to school on the weekends too! We were very pleased with the school system, until the new school year. That is when trouble started with the new 1st grade classroom and the new teacher. He just didn’t click with her or with her assistants. It was a long, hard 4 months and he was regressing more and more.
It was now time again to look for a suitable school alternative for Amin. I took out my old list and looked for the quality that was important to us to choose a school. I was looking for professionalism, affordability, good social interaction and an appropriate academic plan. A school where ABA and VBA are incorporated into teaching. Once I had narrowed the list down to three schools, I went to see the kind of services they offered.
I took him with me to see how comfortable he feels in that environment, and how will the school teachers and staff interact with him. Alhamdulillah we found the perfect school for him. He has been going there now since January 5th and having wonderful and pleasing results.
This school has surprised me in so many ways. He had attended this school only for 2 days when they sent home a sheet called “sleep chart”, explaining that they just wanted to know how the child had slept so they could alter their teaching accordingly on each day. Now, that is what I call thoughtful planning. They did his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) after the 3rd week, and we had a parent meeting regarding his IEP.
They developed a “Behavior Plan” which was explained to me so I could apply it in certain situations. WOW!!!!!!!! Could it have been more perfect? So far, it has worked out great for him and for me as well. Everything I was looking for in a school is there for him, and even more.
Now I know some of you may have wanted more scientific research on this subject, but I thought it might also be beneficial to share my experience with you in nutshell. While it is important to see the statistics and all the research that has been done in this subject, I know that I personally find it easier at times to deal with certain matters when I hear stories that happened to others.
It is hard to find a good school, one that is affordable and suits your child’s needs, but they are out there, you just need to search for them and keep your options open.