The best autism school is one where your child is actively learning and happy. There are several different approaches to teaching children or young adults with autism. It is essential to find which approach works best for your child and choose a school that uses that learning style. It is also important to find an autism school that has teachers that are certified to work with childhood autism.
One approach that an autism school may use is applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA training is when the teacher or behavior specialist observes a student's negative behaviors and then tries to change the behavior into a positive one. The goal is to find out what triggers and reinforces negative behavior. Then, the teacher will give positive reinforcement for the right behavior. You may want a school with this approach as it often works for children with autism who are working on social goals.
Sensory integration therapy is another learning approach an autism school may use. Children with autism sometimes have trouble using their senses to learn. This therapy teaches students to use their main senses more to learn academic or social information. The idea is that once the brain is able to handle all this information through the senses, the student will be able to adapt to learning anywhere. This may be a good choice if your child seems to be overstimulated or understimulated with their environment.
Other learning styles that are used at autism schools include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. Visual learning uses pictures and other visual aids to help a student process information. Auditory learning is for students who retain what they hear, such as lectures given by the teacher. Kinesthetic learning is when the student can touch an object and remember its information based on this sense.
A private autism school may have more options when it comes to learning styles. You may also find that the staff at private schools are more experienced. It can be beneficial to meet other parents and families that have a child with autism to see how they like the school. These schools may also offer more activities that are geared for children with autism or Asperger's syndrome, such as sports and art.
A public school may not have as much experience teaching autistic students, but will likely provide more opportunities for the student to learn from those who do not have autism. If you child has mild autism, he or she may be able to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom setting and may not need an autism school. In most cases, a public school should still have options for classroom time, occupational therapy, and physical therapy if needed.