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School in Frankfurt for an ASD child?

(17 Posts)
boringornot Thu 07-Dec-17 00:08:34

Well, I've posted here before because DH was considering going to Frankfurt. It seems we're in fact going next summer (DH is going in January, I'm going with the kids after the school year ends), so we went there and visited quite a few schools. We have 2 DC, 7 and 5yo.

DS1 is on the autism spectrum, but, according to the expert here in the UK (he was assessed at the Evelina Hospital), it's mild and he will "grow out of it" as he grows older. However, the school we had chosen, apparently, has no idea how to deal with him.

They had asked for him to spend one "sample day" and by the end of the day they talked to DH and I and looked completely taken aback by his behaviour (DS was nervous and over excited, as expected, so was much more restless and full of tics than normal).

So, it looks like we need a more "inclusive" school for him. Academically he is extremely able (in the 98% according to the German school) but he definitely needs support with his behaviour.

None of us speak any German, so I don't want to send him to a estate school. And the bilingual schools looked very strict when I visited them.

We are considering the European School in Bad Vilbel, as they are not selective. Does anyone have any opinion about that?

DS1 has always attended the local comprehensive, in SE London. The school is outstanding, and they have always been very good accommodating him and other children with ASD and special needs in general, so it never occurred to me he could cause such a strong reaction in a school.

Thanks a lot!

boringornot Fri 08-Dec-17 00:06:43

No one? Please, any info about the schools (even if unrelated to ASD will help a lot!)


Welshcake77 Fri 08-Dec-17 08:39:40

Hello! I live just outside of Frankfurt in Bad Homburg and DD1 has only started school this year, so my knowledge isn't great but I have a suggestion if you are on Facebook? There is a page called Expat Babies Frankfurt and there are lots of helpful members who I am sure will have some info for you. The group is quite large and most people have older children too, there always posts asking about schools.

What I have heard is that school places with "integrative Betreuung" which is what I think you would need in a state school, are rare and hard to get in Frankfurt so it would probably be worth looking at the suburbs as well if you haven't already...Bad Homburg, Friedrichsdorf, Kronberg, Oberursel, Bad Soden are a few...or google Rhein Main Gebiet instead of just Frankfurt?

Good luck with it, I hope you get some positive feedback from someone with a more knowledge!

anzu66 Fri 08-Dec-17 09:37:37

My son has ASD and is at a bilingual school in Berlin.

I don't know how much will be the same in Frankfurt, I even know of a couple of kids with special needs in other schools in Berlin where things were organised quite differently...

But this is how things worked for us, so hopefully it will be at least some help.

I found most of the teachers here to be rather unaware about how to deal with ASD. However, if you manage to figure out the right (official) channels to go through, issues can get sorted out and support provided.

First off, most schools have a teacher whose job it is to look out for students who need special provision or assistance (providing special assistance is called foerdern in German, that teacher is referred to as the Sonderpaedagoge/Sonderpaedagogin).

Whichever school you choose, you need to find out if the school has one and/or who it is. If the school doesn't have one, it might not be the right school for your son's needs (possibly?)

The Sonderpaedagoge is the person with whom you should arrange a meeting where you can outline issues, concerns, and what needs to be done to support your child.
Unlike the regular teachers, they should be more aware of the requirements of special needs, they then inform the teachers of what the child needs, check up that things are going as they should during lessons, and so on.

Welshcake77 Fri 08-Dec-17 09:39:49

just a thought, have you looked at Phorms? I know a few people who used to work there and spoke very highly of the inclusive nature...might be worth a try.

GinTonic123 Fri 08-Dec-17 11:57:12

I live in Frankfurt (20 yrs) and was going to suggest Phorms too. My colleague was impressed with them but neither she nor I have experience of ASD kids. Two thoughts - the school year here starts next year on the 6th August so maybe worth coming for the start of the school year here rather than waiting out the end of the school year there? Also your 5yr old may not have to go to school yet depending on when the birthday is? Kids start school age 6 with 30th June as the cut off date.

My other friends kids are in the Erasmus school and she is going to move hers to the school in Bad Vilbel just because they are moving there. However, if I recall correctly, there is no attached Kindergarten should your younger son not be starting school next year - so you would have split drop offs.

Let me know if you want more info.

GinTonic123 Fri 08-Dec-17 12:31:10 might be worth investigating the Anna-Schmidt-Schule - it’s a bilingual Montessori school but it may only be senior school. It may also be worth looking at IBMS Frankfurt - another international school. There is also an International school in Dreieich which is just south of Frankfurt. It may be worth googling all of those.

Funnily enough we are looking to return to the UK for the start of the next school year - do you want to rent my house for 3 years? (Light hearted)

boringornot Sun 10-Dec-17 01:01:37

Thank you very much for all the comments, and sorry for taking so long to reply!

Just to clarify, DS doesn't have a statement, and so far never needed spaecial support (one to one or anything like this). He needs some extra patience and knowledge from the school staff, that's all.

Welshcake77 thanks for the Facbeook suggestion, I will check the group! I have been to Phorms, but they can't accept DS1 because he doesn't speak German. (apart from that, the school felt a bit too "strict" to me. My first impression was that my DC would have trouble adapting to that environment - but I only visited it once, so we never know...)

anzu66 thanks a lot for the tip to look for the "Sonderpaedagoge". I will definitely ask for it from now on smile

poster GinTonic123 As I said right above, DS1 can't go to Phorms because he doesn't speak German (same for Erasmus primary school in Frankfurt).

DS2, who is 5, will apparently go to Transition class in September 2018 (or P1, dependending on the school, I suppose)

I contacted the Anna Schmidt Schule, but they wouldn't allow a school visit outside the school open day (which will happen on February, if I'm not mistaken). I've been to IBMS as well, and that could maybe be an option.

I'll check the Dreieich school as well, thanks for the suggestions!

Welshcake77 Sun 10-Dec-17 06:33:21

Do you have somewhere to live already? I’m just wondering if you would reconsider your decision not to send him to state school? In many parts of the city they are very used to children starting school with little or no German and offer help to get their language skills up to speed (my DH arrived in Germany aged 9 with not a word of German and went to a local school had extra language and support etc). If the bilingual/private schools won’t admit him because he doesn’t have German it might be worth considering.

Have you looked at Accadis in Bad Homburg, they seem to have changed the set up there recently and gives a more inclusive impression.

GinTonic123 Sun 10-Dec-17 07:25:12

I think that if Phorms and Erasmus require the child to speak German when they start, the school in Bad Vilbel probably would too.

As Welshcake says it may be worth reconsidering about state primary. They definitely are used to children starting without German language skills and give them extra support, as are Nurseries. I think it takes roughly 3 months for the kids to grasp the language, 1year to understand and really converse in it and 2 years to be fluent (approximately)

I’m just thinking that I have never heard of a German child having ASD, although obviously some do, so I would expect them to be integrated in the standard school class. I would think your son would be fine especially if you talk to his teacher about any extra support required.

If you do decide to explore state schools then there is no element of choice. You get automatically allocated to the one in whose catchment area you live.

Depending on whether you want to work or not you would need to look into after school care. My daughter is in 1st grade and finishes twice a week at 11:30am and the latest she finishes is 1pm! There is definitely the idea that children need to play.

There is another European School but as far as I can tell it is only available to children of parents working for European Institutions eh European Central Bank. Is that an option?

GinTonic123 Sun 10-Dec-17 07:25:45

....sorry that was a bit of an essay blush

GinTonic123 Sun 10-Dec-17 08:04:03

....there is also an American School in Dornbusch (part of Frankfurt) which may be worth looking in to. I am not sure if it is only open to US citizens.

Borridge Mon 11-Dec-17 16:31:45

Kinderzeit schule in Schwalbach is bilingual and may suit.

boringornot Thu 14-Dec-17 00:30:09

Welshcake I'm a bit wary about state schools, because the DC speak no German whatsoever, and neither do I! So my own interaction with the school would be very complicated. But if I decide to consider it, how do I find out about the good ones?

We can move (nearly) anywhere in Frankfurt. DH will work at Eschborn so we have to be north of the city, but that's about it.

We visited Accadis - it felt very strict to me. Very structured, children in year one sitting on their desks all the time, and the class doors with no windows - we walked down silent corridors with no child in sight - and then the head would open a door and there was a whole class of children at the other side, quietly.

Of course, that's just a first impression, but I couldn't imagine my 2 boys in a place so silent and solemn smile

Gintonic Phorms and Erasmus do require German for DS1, who is 7. At the European school they'd go to the English section, so German would be the second language.

The Frankfurt European school is only for children of employees of the European Central Bank, so not an option for us...

By the way, Gintonic whereabouts is your house? ;) We will need to rent something, so we never know...

Borridge I'll check this school, thanks!

Nellietheeuropean Thu 14-Dec-17 20:02:36

I'm sorry I can't answer on the inclusive factor or support for ASD but on the language issues I can share our experience. We're not in Frankfurt so may be slightly different but my daughter has just started school in the 1st class - aged 6 - with no German. Local state school. She has had good support, she is doing well (to the point where she is saying that the work is boring but as I tell her, it is good that the she is finding the work easy, because it is giving her time to learn German before it gets hard.)

She has 2 extra German lessons provided by her teacher in a small group of 6, added on to her timetable.

She has gone from not understanding anything in her classroom to pretty much everything now, the teacher hardly speaks English to her anymore. She is making friends and talking to them and her teacher told me at parents evening that she is talking more and more German in class now too.

There is not the same interaction with school that I was used to in the UK. Kids walk themselves to and from school, so no drop off / pick up chatting, much less parents dropping in to school for reading, family cafes and so on. We are going in for a Christmas breakfast next week which will be the third time I have been in - the first two were first day, and meeting with the teacher for parents evening. Other than that all interaction with the school / teacher has been in writing.
Also, I've found that there doesn't seem to be the same angst in Germany about finding a "good' school as there is in the UK. You go to your catchment school and all schools are considered equal.

Welshcake77 Fri 15-Dec-17 08:28:32

Nellie has it, there is no angst about getting into a good school here (well not for primary). There are no ratings, OFSTED type inspections etc. and you basically go to your catchment school and that's it. Obviously depending on the area, some schools will have more experience in dealing with non-German speakers (I think there are 3 in my DD's class of 24 alone, we live in a popular expat area but also lots of refugees here too) so you could consider that.

Finding somewhere to live that would be easy for a commute to Eschborn and Bad Vilbel for school might not be that easy, but you would probably be best looking at the Taunus area in that case. It depends whether your DH will be driving or taking the train.

I didn't realise Accadis was like that, but agree its not the kind of atmosphere I think my DD would suit either.

iboughtsnowboots Tue 19-Dec-17 02:56:39

I have no useful German advice but wanted to say it is doable to send your child to a school where the main language is one you don't speak but not easy. Having said that I would be surprised if the school wouldn't be able to manage to communicate with you in English. It is also a good shove to get you learning the language when all the school instructions come back in it. We packed our pair into a Spanish speaking school without any of us having any, we got a tutor for them after school and I took several lessons a week. It took the DC very little time to learn the language, it took me much longer and with a much worse accent!

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