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Anyone had child with ASD/asperger's at weekly boarding school?

(12 Posts)
ChocolateHoneycomb Sun 01-Nov-20 15:09:09

Hi,
I'm going to ignore any general nasty comments about how evil boarding schools are, so please don't bother. I am just playing around with ideas at the moment.

I have a ds with asperger's, who thrives on strict routines and hates travelling to and from school due to major concerns about timing. Academically his performance does not match his ability due to various ASD related things, but he is achieving within age expected ranges and is ahead in some areas. Behaviour can be rigid but he has always been fine in a normal class and doesn't require special help but benefits from teachers who are very aware of his ASD. He HATES doing work outside school - is willing to stay for homework club some days as that is 'at school' but causes tension about doing it at home. A few people have said this isn't unusual in ASD.

I came across another boy with ASD who has loved weekly boarding, as the week is totally structured and homework done so the weekend is 'time at home'. I wondered if this might suit ds, especially in a much smaller school than he would be at locally otherwise. It would be from year 9 and somewhere between 30-60mins drive from home.

I didn't board myself but ds' dad did and he has always raved about how wonderful it was, but he doesn't have a diagnosis of ASD!

Just wondered if this approach has worked for anyone else, or if you tried it but it didn't work why that was?

Many thanks for any constructive comments or suggestions.

OP’s posts: |
CraftyGin Sun 01-Nov-20 15:14:03

Not me, but have experience of both boarding schools and working with ASC students.

You need to choose the school very carefully. A lot of boarding schools emphasise keeping the students busy and active, often through team sports. This can be a disaster for an ASC student and it puts lots of stressful situations into one place. Eating together could also be a stress point.

There are specialist ASC boarding schools, such as More House in Farnham, and I think you should have a look at somewhere like that. They would also help you with the EHCP process.

Zodlebud Sun 01-Nov-20 18:37:40

The structured days could really work for him but you need to look very carefully at what they do outside lesson time. They are usually expected to participate in a wealth of extra curricular activities, particularly after school. Sport usually plays a big part in this, but there are often a huge array of other things to get involved in. The management of the downtime would be one key area.

Also, how is he with sharing space? In the lower years dormitories are usually shared with several other boys. There’s no real privacy and if he’s a neat freak then missing out on rewards for tidy dorms might tip him over the edge.

Also, mealtimes are often exceptionally noisy with the whole school often eating together.

It’s the more social things I would worry about to be honest.

Otherwise I am a huge fan of weekly boarding (although my daughter has no SEN).

Oratory1 Sun 01-Nov-20 18:51:30

Not ASD but children with a range of SpLDs and MH issues. We were fortunate to have a school close by (20 mins). The structure and routine suited as you say as did doing work at school with tutors on hand to help with prep. Pastoral care and understanding were excellent. But being close they could start as day and board when they knew they were comfortable or move between day, weekly and flexi boarding as it suited at the time. Or stay for prep and then come home. Is there a suitable school within range.

ChocolateHoneycomb Sun 01-Nov-20 20:43:21

Thanks to all.
Most sports are rather hated by Ds, so that is a serious consideration.
Sharing space is untested, but I think meal times would be ok (no issues with school lunches in packed noisy hall to date) and he is extremely untidy!
There is only really one possible for day initially then boarding if works out as the other options would be too far and would be exhausting. Two schools do allow return on Monday morning for boarders.

I’ve booked virtual visits to the three nearest options, although one school might be too big.

Appreciate all your comments.

OP’s posts: |
Oratory1 Sun 01-Nov-20 22:00:37

Mine managed to do a minimum of sport and games as long as they were doing some form of activity or interest

HelloDulling Mon 02-Nov-20 06:57:11

By Year 9, you should expect there to be homework at the weekends too, and from Year 10 on it can be a significant amount, so don’t look at boarding school as a way of avoiding the school-work-at-home thing.

ChocolateHoneycomb Tue 03-Nov-20 08:46:27

@HelloDulling yes I am aware (and remember!) homework does just escalate in quantity but I guess I was thinking that if some is done in school in the week then at least some has been done...it's not really ideal though and the idea may come to nothing. It is just that our lives are really affected every day by this homework business and just dealing with it 2 days rather than 7 would feel much easier!

@Oratory1. my husband seems to have avoided virtually all physical activity at his school by chosing options like chess, model railways (apparently), cooking, programming, board games etc. He did swim. All much more interesting than the club options at my comp, which I seem to recall for girls were limited to netball or hockey and orchestra. Entry criteria for the latter was doing gcse music, which did not seem to equate to actually being able to play an instrument! Currently ds likes swimming and judo (not great at either though) but the clubs he tends to choose at school are things like baking, scratch/coding, science/nature/history based.

OP’s posts: |
1805 Thu 05-Nov-20 16:02:41

Hi OP.
My dd is ASD (high functioning) and weekly boards. She also couldn't manage the move between home and school, and also can't o schoolwork at home.
Weekly boarding has changed her life - and ours too! She is happy at school, does all the work, even outside of set prep times if necessary. Sde shares a room with 2 others, and manages the routines well. Although her area is messy and she loses things, her friends all help her. She has made some genuine friends in the boarding house, and they all tolerate each other fantastically well. As a result of her being settled at school, she is happier and calmer at home, and we know we can lay off the homework nagging at the weekend as she has plenty of time to go back a bit earlier on Sunday night and do it then at school. It really has worked very well for us. Tbh I didn't expect it to, but it's def the answer for us. Try it and see what happens. Good luck.
Oh - I would recommend finding the smallest school for him too. I also think that smaller is better for ASD pupils.

ChocolateHoneycomb Sat 07-Nov-20 13:24:33

@1805 Thanks! It is amazing to hear your dd is doing so well. I think I've got the idea school needs to be very small. I was thinking small compared to local comps (1500ish), but now think perhaps even smaller. One of the possibilities less than an hour away is about 500 kids, 300ish yrs 7-11 and 200 in sixth form. MOstly boarders but not many international, which was a concern at one place we looked at (i.e. 90% boarders from china/ oriental countries).
However I'm going to keep the options on all fronts open and look at every school we can, day/boarding. Really hard to know how pressurised these places are just from reputation and visiting as well. NOt to mention the nightmare of virtual visits, which are basically just a promotion video type affair!

OP’s posts: |
Oratory1 Sat 07-Nov-20 15:34:55

I think 500 is perfect, small enough to be personal and not overwhelming but big enough to have range of subjects, facilities and resources.

1805 Sun 08-Nov-20 00:55:07

I would also check the school was prepared to be flexible with the amount of GCSE's he would have to do. DD really benefits from doing one less subject than normal, and having some free periods in her weekly timetable. She struggles with essays, so is not doing a humanity or Eng Lit.
We managed to find a school that only has around 120 pupils in yrs 7-13.

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