Currently 1 in 150 children in the United States have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. One of the most difficult questions that parents are faced with deals with choosing the right educational environment for their autistic child. The Autism Education Site is dedicated to helping you, the parent or caregiver, explore all of the schools and extra-curricular educational organizations that are dedicated to providing the best in autism education to their students.
Families that have a child with an autism spectrum disorder are faced with numerous decisions over the course of their child’s life; one of the most important questions is which educational environment is ideal for their child. Understanding the differences between the various models of autism education will allow a decision to be made that is tailored to the unique needs of the child in mind.
Several different classroom settings are used to educate children with autism. The inclusion model of education allows autistic children to attend a regular education classroom alongside their typically developing peers. This is usually most beneficial for children with high-functioning autism, PDD-NOS, or Asperger’s Syndrome. The typically-developing children serve as role models for the autistic children helping them acquire and implement key social skills.
Autistic children who are educated in a self-contained classroom usually have a small adult-to-student ratio and have extra classroom accommodations in order to meet their unique needs. It is not unusual to have a self-contained autism classroom set up with dim lights, a few tents in the corners, a small trampoline, and even a sit and spin. Understanding the sensory needs of children on the autism spectrum is an important part of those tasked with providing them a quality education. Children in a self-contained classroom are educated among their peers and participate in all extra-curricular activities with the same group.
The last model involves mainstreaming students with an autism spectrum disorder during a portion of their day. Mainstreaming usually occurs for the extra-curricular activities such as physical education, art, and recess. Children who are mainstreamed spend the majority of their day in a self-contained classroom but then join their typically-developing peers for these extra-curricular activities.
In addition to these three models of educating autistic children, there are private schools dedicated solely to those students with autism spectrum disorders. Some parents also choose to home school their child with autism. All of these methods of autism education will be explored here on The Autism Education Site.