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Autism education/support in America

(16 Posts)
CrashHelmet Mon 06-Jun-11 02:54:30

I have a DS (12) with high-functioning autism who currently attends an independent special school in the UK. DH is an American citizen and has been offered a job in California. I'm not keen to move DS from his current school as we had to push for it and he is doing well there, but I've heard that autism support can be very good over there. Does anyone have experience of both UK/US systems and how they compare?

catherinea1971 Mon 06-Jun-11 07:49:37

Hi CrashHelmet, I would be in heaven for my ds (asd) if we were to move to California, in fact I keep telling my dh to look for a job in Silicon valley because of the second to none help that children on the spectrum receive there!!! From what I have read they are way ahead of the UK when it comes to ASD's as they have had plenty of experience.
I would contact some schools over there and see what help they can provide or where they believe your ds would be best placed.
Here is an article that I read some time back that may be of interest to you.
Good luck and keep us informed I would be really interested to hear how you get onsmile

PipinJo Mon 06-Jun-11 10:09:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Mon 06-Jun-11 10:58:43

VERY interesting.....we have everything sorted fro 2 more years and then.....but dh is very techy so silicone valley would suit him.

I watch with bated breath, for news of Californian heaven grin

sickofsocalledexperts Mon 06-Jun-11 11:10:41

I too think America is way ahead, and particularly in the use of ABA for autistic children, but will your husband get health insurance as part of his package, as of course there's no NHS out there.

catherinea1971 Mon 06-Jun-11 11:17:13

Some friends of my mums were over from California recently, they were a breath of fresh air when it came to trying to interact with ds because they have lots of friends with children and grandchildren on the spectrum.. There seems to be much better awareness, compassion and understanding over there. Mums friend didn't try and obviously interact with him iykwim, she just let him be, she wasn't offended when he was uninterested in a gift she had bought him, but best of all I think she and my mum had a good chat about it all and my mum seems much more comfortable and accepting of ds's diagnosissmile

CrashHelmet Mon 06-Jun-11 13:12:15

Thanks for the link catherinea. I have looked up the Orion Academy which is mentioned in the article and unfortunately DS would be ruled out because of his behaviour. DH would be working in Silicon Valley (his UK employer is based there) and he has always said that he thinks DS would fit in pretty well out there!

I've looked at the Autism Society for America website - it all looks good, but then I worry that the NAS website over here looks good and talks about their schools, the autism strategy but on the ground things are very different. So I suppose I want reassurances that it's not all lip service and that it's actually possible to get these services, and not just for those who are willing to get legal help.

DH would get health insurance, but I'm not sure what the terms would be as it's all pre-existing? DS doesn't use ABA as he was dx quite late (age 7) and we found a school which seems to suit him well.

It's such a big step as DS struggles with change and part of me wants to allow him to continue in the environment he is used to. I think moving continents is hard for any child, let alone one with autism.

sickofsocalledexperts Mon 06-Jun-11 13:32:10

I think that , as long as you check that your insurance will cover it, America is light years ahead of the UK in terms of autism - not just for ABAers, but on everything. I am amazed that autism education and funding was even a hot topic in the Obama election. Can you imagine David Cameron even mentioning the word autism in our election??! There is a huge lobbying force of parents to asd children over there, which is highly organised, and certain companies (eg Microsoft) even finance ABA and other autism treatments under their employee health scheme. I agree it is a huge upheaval, but from what I understand it would be like going from dark to light in terms of attitudes to and proper education for autistic children. I have a few mum pals out there, and although they moan about some things (eg insurance companies trying to wriggle out of covering treatments) they also realise how good they have it, in terms of early diagnosis, proper treatments, early interventions, recognition by the state of the possibility of huge improvement in autism etc. I think over here we have a patronising "let the poor little child be himself, don't try to change his disability" attitude, whereas over there I don't always believe in their "cure" or "recovery from autism" rhetoric, but they just seem to be trying much harder and to offer far more hope to asd children. And particularly in silicon valley, as your DH rightly points out, where probably more than half the growth in amazing IT developments comes from IT bods on the spectrum! I think I read that there is a particularly high incidence of autism out there, as often both parents are somewhere on the spectrum. I will PM you a bit of an email I got from an American mum (with names taken out). She's not in exactly same area but it might help?

glimmer Mon 06-Jun-11 19:27:45

Hi - I live in the US and have lived in the UK. DD has different SN, not autism,
so I can't help with the particulars. I would second everything said: health care is fantastic here - if you can pay for it. If you can't it abysemal. However,
some of the SN is done by the school district and free of charge because they
figured out that early intervention is worth the money. Generally, there is a cheap health care plan, called HMO which is a bit like the NHS in that you go to your doctor and get referred as necessary to a doctor of their choice (in-network). Alternatively, there is a PPO plan, where you pick the experts yourself. We have the latter, but are having trouble to pay for it. All the best.

Agnesdipesto Mon 06-Jun-11 19:40:59

My sister lives in US and she knows a family where Dad works in NYC and Mum and child with ASD lives in California because the support is so great he doesn't want to move the child out of California!

UCLA was home of Lovaas. Autism Partnership (ABA) have main office in Seal Beach. We use their UK office but i would happily squeeze DS in your suitcase to see their top consultants over there more often. I think California is the State that funds ASD support most generously. Other States can have the same pretty shocking provision we have here. Uni and colleges are also much more set up for ASD and I think one uni even has its own college for HFA.

Much more common for ABA to work in State schools.

But health insurance / employee benefits etc would need checking out.

CrashHelmet Mon 06-Jun-11 20:36:24

Thanks for your pm sickof. You are right, autism is definitely on the agenda over there and I think more of a positive attitude. We've had some family trips to SF and all the visitor attractions have bent over backwards to help us. You get that over here with the bigger theme parks, but it's much more widespread out there.

glimmer Thanks for that. It looks like I'll have to examine DH's insurance carefully. We could pay for some support but I don't know if we'd be able to do it on an ongoing basis. I am a bit worried now because DS is 12 and there is so much emphasis on early intervention. It would have been great if we'd been out there back when he was a toddler as his symptoms probably wouldn't have been overlooked for years, but will it mean that there's not much available for those with a late dx?

Agnes that's amazing that there's an entire college for HFA. I'm not sure yet how DS will do academically but college could be a possibility (motivation is more of an issue than ability).

Thanks for all your comments. I think it's something that could be really positive, but I'll have to research it carefully and know what we're getting into.

laraeo Mon 06-Jun-11 21:07:47

I'm going to admit that my DS is not autistic (verbal dyspraxia) but I do live in California. As glimmer mentioned, a lot depends on your insurance. So much depends on that I can not emphasize it enough. And like anywhere, if you've got money, there certainly are wonderful programs available.

As for schools. That's a whole other issue and I can't speak to particulars for autism education. Having said that, the state is pretty much broke and there are cutbacks happening everywhere at an alarming rate. Teachers are being laid off left and right, class sizes are being increased, and it's not going to get better any time soon. There was an article in the LA Times last week about a district that built a brand new, state of the art secondary school but can't afford to staff or operate it so it will sit vacant for at least 2 years. The state government is broken and much like our federal government, they have a very hard time passing a budget.

I'd be very careful in researching where you were living and what school district you were in. Different districts have different abilities to pay for special education programs. I'd say in general Silicon Valley should have good schools but I'd definitely do my homework.

Agnesdipesto Mon 06-Jun-11 21:18:03

Hmm if you are self funding even a bit then pretty sure intervention in US is much more expensive than here (always the way when insurance is picking up the bill).
For motivation issues ABA is well worth looking at. My DS has ABA+mainstream which works well and massively better than mainstream+usual offering.
ABA over there do programmes for older children eg group therapy for teens etc, have summer camps for HFA etc etc
Sure there will be online forums based in California you could find and ask for info

laraeo Mon 06-Jun-11 21:54:26

I'd also add, that since your DS is school aged, it's likely his services will have to be routed through whatever school district he is in. As my DS came up to 3yo, he had to be evaluated by our school district and an IEP had to be in place by the time he was 3 otherwise our insurance would stop funding his speech therapy. This, despite the fact that kids don't start kindergarten until age 5. Now during the school year he is seen once/week by a school district SALT (whom nobody likes but she's the one who's in the school that my DS would attend if he were school age) and once/week by the private SALT that my insurance pays for. When school is not in session, he gets seen by the private SALT 2/week.

There's a website I've browsed through from time to time: which may be helpful or at least have someone who can point you in the right direction.

PipinJo Tue 07-Jun-11 18:26:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PipinJo Tue 07-Jun-11 18:27:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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