As we begin a new week, and with Sweet B on vacation this week, so begins another day of the Autism A to Z series. Today’s letter is E and for us, that means: E is for Education. Now, I could mean educating the public and/or the uninformed about autism but I’m going to talk about special education and homeschooling. We already do an autism and afterschooling series here and I have talked about special education before as well. Both our own experience and a basic beginner’s guide.
Autism and Educational Services
When it comes to education, yes, an individual with autism is more than capable of participating. This can either be in a public or private school setting or you may want to pursue homeschooling as an option. Under IDEA, all school age and preschool children with disabilities are guaranteed a free and appropriate public education. This does require some work on your part, including setting up either an IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) or IEP (Individual Education Plan) which were both discussed in decoding special education terms.
But advocating for services, depending on where you live, can be difficult.
And then there’s a matter of deciding what type of educational model to use when it comes to your child.
Different approaches offer different benefits and often times, a combination of approaches will be the best fit for your child.
Educational Approaches for Autism
So what are these approaches?
Examples include: ABA Therapy, Floortime, and TEACCH.
For Sweet B, a combination of ABA and TEACCH have worked nicely for her. Recently, her school also started using the Autism Curriculum which, after taking assessment tests, seeks to cater a curriculum around an individual’s needs and learning styles.
And this is key- individuality. Since we know that autism is a spectrum disorder and that no one individual with autism is the same, you would then have to take a similar approach for education.
Where it concerns early childhood/early intervention, Susan Stokes (an autism specialist) has this to say:
The fundamental features necessary for a successful early childhood program for children with autism are:
- Curriculum Content
- Highly Supportive Teaching Environments and Generalization Strategies
- Need for Predictability and Routine
- Functional Approach to Problem Behavior
- Transition Planning from Early Childhood program to elementary school
- Family Involvement
Written by Susan Stokes under a contract with CESA 7 and funded by a discretionary grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
I would argue that this is fundamental for a school age child as well (but with relevant transition planning ex: middle school, high school, post-school).
And what about homeschool? Is homeschooling a viable option for an individual with autism? Of course it is!
Just make sure that you’re following the homeschooling laws in your state and that you’re developing an appropriate IEP, just as you would with a public or private school. Homeschooling may even be a better option if you can manage it. That way you’re ensuring that your child is truly receiving an individual education.
But even if you aren’t able to homeschool, just keep your goals in mind. You want what’s best for your child in all aspects of life. This includes education and whether you send them to school or homeschool them, you will ultimately know what’s best.