When it comes to making a choice in education for students with autism, the right option can be a little elusive. While some public schools have excellent academic programs for children with special needs, many lack the designs that certain students require. For many parents, private education has become an attractive and safe route for their child’s learning. In a private school setting, especially a school that specializes in autism education, students have valuable resources and attention at hand that they would normally miss out on in the sea of students in public schools. The private environment can ensure that students are safe and are working with experts that know how to manage their needs. Researchers and officials like to lay out lists of pros and cons of private versus public instruction for students with autism. These can be a little daunting for those trying to figure out where to educate their child. However, schools for students with autism are progressing by leaps and bounds to be some of the most well rounded academic options that parents can consider.
An Educational Option That Is Tailored To Meet Student Needs
A grand benefit of private education is the laser focus a teaching staff can pay to their classes, giving a guiding hand to smaller classes. The demands on public education make it easy to lose students who need the attention provided at a private institution. Students with autism have unique needs when it comes to classroom learning, which can be met easier by a private school. Instructors are trained in special education and understand a variety of teaching methods to help students succeed. While private schools use a variety of teaching techniques to provide the best possible education, students are less likely to have to split their attention between the different methods of instruction practiced in public schools and they often aren’t relegated to part-time specialized learning. Furthermore, a private education institution is likely to be aware of the sensory challenges of students with autism, designing classrooms and curriculum to support the students’ nervous system needs.
One of the concerns for parents and officials about private schools is that academic success will involve lowering educational expectations, making it harder for higher functioning students to explore university levels of education. However, many private institutions want to help their students continue their education and private schools do their best to provide a clear path to higher learning. Much of this is covered in the individualized education plan set forth by parents and students for their K-12 learning and covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act as students transition to college. If you want to know more about IEP and Section 504 plans, we discussed the differences in our latest blog earlier this week. Private institutes will work with you and your student in the same fashion a public school could to ensure their educational needs and goals are met.
Peer to Peer Experiences That Make A Difference
Private institutions offer more than just quality education and additional services for the success of their students. Private schools are a relative safe haven away from the jungle of the public education system, fostering an environment where peer to peer interaction thrives. Private schools also can offer a safe environment for students that would usually be at risk for bullying. Many parents choose private education over public because of the community that is fostered within a private setting. Students at a private school for autism education understand each other’s world view and teachers understand the concerns of students and parents alike. In a private school setting, the students feel they fit in with their peers which can be a major bar to a quality education and better quality of life. The added benefit of a private education for students with autism is the safety provided for students that are easy targets for bullies in a public school. Research estimates that more than 60% of students with Autism between the ages of 6 and 15 have suffered at the hands of a bully. Those alarming statistics represent the palpable risks of sending a student with autism into a public classroom that parents wrestle with when making this choice. Simply put, parents want their child to have a safe environment with understanding peers that don’t become a hindrance to learning, which private schools strive to provide.
One of the many criticisms that public officials warn about private education for students with autism is the possibility for isolationism, giving students a false sense of the world or making it harder for them to interact with the community outside of school. However, with many schools this problem is being addressed through community outreach, interaction, and volunteer programs that involve students in their neighborhood and encourage the community to interact with them in a safe environment.
Quality Developmental Programs
Because many students with autism benefit from developmental programs outside of the classroom like speech and occupational therapy, private schools are an attractive preference for parents. These programs are offered at public institutions as well and at no cost to parents, but without the added benefits that a private school can provide. Often the private school network of provider options that they can impart to students with autism is extensive and many can handle some of the therapy on-site. In addition, many private schools have specifically tailored after school programs that help engage students with their peers as well as the community. With these resources at hand, students get the chance to put their best foot forward without having to climb too many obstacles.
Like any public school special education program, parents will have to examine the philosophies of private institutions to make sure that they practice the pedagogical and therapeutic philosophies that work best for their student. Because private institutes must charge tuition to pay for their services, many parents choose to place their student in a state-funded public special education program, only to find that the program is detrimental to their student’s progress. This is why it’s important for parents to examine all of their options for academic and therapeutic care for their students with autism.
Making A Great Education Affordable
One of the bars to education at a private institution has always been how affordable it can be for a struggling family. Public officials estimate that educating a child with severe autism can be upwards of 20% more than educating a neurotypical child because of the amount of time and labor needed to set students up for success. In a public school setting, with the amount of attention needed to educate a single student with autism, it’s often easier for the parent and the district to invest in private education for the students. However, the bill often lands at the feet of parents that are already stretched thin for resources.
The good news is that there are an abundance of programs to help ease or eliminate the financial burden for many concerned parents. Tuition costs shouldn’t be a bar to a quality education and that’s why programs like the Lexington Education Foundation (LEF) exist. Through an abundance of resources, including tax credit donations and state or federally funded opportunity programs, students with autism are able to flourish in private school settings and parents are able to breath easy about tuition bills while their child is being educated.
As more schools specializing in educating students with autism are becoming available options, it might be the right time for parents to consider a private education for their unique learners. Lexington Services provides individualized educational, behavioral and social support for children with disabilities and their families. Lexington Life Academy is a private school that specializes in educating children with autism, developmental disabilities and other learning challenges to cultivate the skills they seek in order to prosper. To find out more about our schools or other support services we offer, click here.
To learn more on topics like this, head over to our last blog post.