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If your child has classic autism....?

(13 Posts)
perceptionreality Mon 25-Feb-13 21:28:55

How important is it that they attend an autism specific school?

My dd is 11. She has classic autism and is quite severely autistic, but thanks to years of ABA takes adult direction very well, though it needs to be focussed.

Today I looked at the special school that the LEA will probably propose for her and, in all honestly I thought it was a great school. The head was lovely, the staff were clearly very dedicated and all the children looked engaged in their learning, and they looked happy. I did not see any children stimming or looking stressed like I did in the local junior SEN school. Plus, I did not get an impression of low expectations.

I got a very positive vibe from the place, BUT they do not use any autism specific approaches with the children that have ASD. This does concern me, particularly as since dd was little all the reports we have had say that it would not be appropriate for her to attend a school that provides for children who have a range of difficulties. I do think the Ed Psych we use would say it isn't autism specific enough for her.

If I want an ASD specific school I will have to go to tribunal, which I would certainly do, but I got such a good feeling about this school that the LEA would offer that I feel she may do well there. But I don't know! Dd has a lot of sensory issues that affect her learning.

Any thoughts? How do you decide?

eggandcress Tue 26-Feb-13 08:58:14

My ds has severe autism plus severe learning difficulties, he is also visually impaired. All these things affect his learning plus loads of sensory issues. He is completely obsessed with water/liquids like an alcoholic

We sent him to an autism specific school at first but he did not thrive there, when he was 9 we moved him to an SLD school. This involved moving area. This is much more appropriate for him as his severe learning difficulties were being over looked at the autism specific school. He is unable to learn using all the usual autism approaches.

Sorry I don't really know how you would choose but I was just sharing our experience. Could you look round the autism specific school for comparison?

I'm a big believer in feelings.

DS1 (severely autistic) attends an SLD/PMLD school. He is now in an autism specific class but some of the kids with autism aren't - depending on how much they need the interventions in the autism specific classroom.

I think the most important thing is to look for a school that will see your child as an individual. I have had bad experiences with some autism interventions where it is assumed that ds1 will do such and such or respond in a particular way just because he is autistic. I've found it's better in his case when people to an extend drop the label and just look at who he is and how he responds.

If the SS you saw would see her as an individual and cope with any issues then I don't think it matters that it isn't autism specific.

I do think it important that any school you send her to can cope with any potential behaviours (I send ds1 to school knowing that they will respond appropriately to any behavioural issues and not magnify them or make them worse!)

silverfrog Tue 26-Feb-13 10:57:20

agree with saintly re: seeing as an individual and responding to behaviours appropriately.

dd1 is at an ABA school. I can't (at the moment) see a point where ABA will not be appropriate for her - she's 8 - but it may come. If she had to change school, I would be looking for somewhere where I could "see" her in the classroom. Where I was confident that the staff would have the knowledge to respond to her behaviours. Where I was comfortable that she woudl have the space to relax, and therefore learn.

At the moment, that means autism-specific, but in a very specialised way (ABA); other autism specific places we have seen woudl not be appropriate for her.

can I hijack, sorry.

My DS has always been treat as a child who has SLD and always attended special school from 2yo, however apart from also having down syndrome, autism and pathological demand avoidance syndrome he has been out of school for over 3 year with school refusal and social phobia. His latest assessment was at the Elizabeth Newson centre and they have said which school they feel suitable for DS and why (so he doesn't isolate his world further). I agree his world is extremely isolated and I agree it does need dealt with, I just don't see him at any school now. Tell me what to do, please x

perceptionreality Tue 26-Feb-13 12:53:43

Thanks for your replies. I do feel that they see the children as individuals but have not yet managed to get a clear view on how they handle behaviours. However, in all the classrooms, the children looked engaged and relaxed.

Dd typically swings between two phases, where she will be totally passive and need everything doing for her, including prompting to eat and a more pro-active phase where she is more able to do some things but which also comes with running into roads and trying to escape from windows! They have a very big, open play area and I worry a bit about what might happen at play time and also whether anyone will help her eat at lunch times.

I am going to look at a school which her doctor advised me to see which is supposed to be more autism specific in terms of teaching methods. This school is abot 15 miles away.

Strongecoffeeismydrug Tue 26-Feb-13 18:09:26

DS is at an asd specific school at the moment and yes he's thriving there however it does have its disadvantages too in that there are no peers with good speech or social skills for him to learn from.He is benefiting from the huge emphasis on life skills and communication that the school offer tho .
Last year he was in a asd resource unit and that was a disaster as all the children were treated and taught the same way with no flexibility for individual needs at all!
His infant school was a mainstream school and he did amazing there due to the fact that the staff were willing to work to his strengths and weaknesses and seek help when needed, so basically it's down to the different staffs attitudes,knowledge and willingness not the actual kind off school smile

Look at more schools and if you still feel the same, go with it. To me, from your description, it sounds lovely.

DS is not at an autism specific school. I didn't like the autism specific schools that I saw even though he has classic autism.

perceptionreality Tue 26-Feb-13 19:15:55

Thank you again for your perspectives. I have known of people with children in ASD specific schools that are endorsed by the NAS, who were not happy with the schools so I guess maybe the 'label' the school has is not necessarily helpful.

Is your lovely school NAS endorsed?

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 26-Feb-13 19:25:36

The trouble can be with autism specific schools that they think they know how to deal with autism! And forget that your child is an individual. My DS went to a general SS/assessment and development centre with DC with Down syndrome, CP, lots of ASD and various other SN and it was fabulous for him. Each child was as different from each other as they were to NT DC so programmes were very individual and the strategies that worked were more important that the DX.

Crawling Tue 26-Feb-13 19:29:17

I have a daughter with severe autism I would be happy with any special unit but I would prefer a asd unit.

perceptionreality Tue 26-Feb-13 19:30:39

I don't think the NAS endorses schools unless they are ASD specific and use TEACCH etc. The school I saw is quite new - about 2 years old so would not have a proven track record with ASD yet or anything else I guess. My instinct is that dd could be well supported there - if we decide to go with this school I hope it is correct! I do agree that there are schools where there is an attitude that all children with ASD are like x, y and z and it is unhelpful.

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