Choosing a school for a child with autism is not a simple process. The school is the institution that is going to leave more mark in the education and in the future of our children. Therefore, it is normal to have doubts when facing this decision: little offer, unexpected diagnoses, centres that simply do not meet our expectations... Today we invite you to know some tips to make this process easier.
Pupils with autism, the most prevalent childhood disorder today according to a recent study, are formally defined as "pupils with special educational needs" (SEN). We are talking about adapted needs in the field of communication, play, understanding or safe inclusion.
It is necessary to raise awareness of this reality since, to date, one in every 100 children is born with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and, despite the data, studies do not know with complete certainty the causes that explain its appearance.
This disorder affects the psychology and behaviour of many students in our country. However, as it sometimes does not manifest itself as evidently as in other cases of people who require special physical attention, such as a person suffering from a motor disability, some school institutions do not get involved in the same way.
"Just as a person in a wheelchair needs ramps, people with autism need trained professionals for their education." A mother denounces in this chronicle that puts in matter of debate if school inclusion is something really true.
At the same time, we find the testimony of Isabel, who defines her situation as "a nightmare":
"I think it is important to comment that Iván still does not speak or write, but even so they have been denying us the speech therapy grant from the MEC for 4 years now (it must be that they understand that a child who does not speak does not need extra support...)."
What does ASD mean, exactly?
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) start in childhood, are chronic and affect the neurodevelopment of individuals. We find in them a pattern of behaviour conditioned by an evident difficulty in social interaction and its protocols, as well as sensory alterations. This translates into communication problems and the consequences that this phenomenon has on the acquisition of knowledge and interpersonal relationships.
In fact, the diagnostic manual DSM 5 reports that there are different degrees of autism: a first affectation that requires a moderate help from the teacher, a second degree that goes to a remarkable demand of help and a third degree in which this need of help is imperative. Likewise, ASD usually join other pathologies that need attention in the classroom.
How to address this reality?
Early detection of ASD helps to improve the patient's prognosis. If a treatment programme is structured in time, as well as if the student's context is adapted to his or her needs, his or her symptoms will improve within this new normality. This would not be the case for a student who, although suffering from it, feels neglected or "out of the ordinary" with respect to his or her peers. If it is detected in time, it will be possible to work optimally on the development of the pupil's cognitive skills and his or her adaptation to the environment.
So, what steps do I have to take to educate a student with ASD?
As stated in Article 6 of the LOMLOE, "competences in the field of education are transferred to the Autonomous Communities."
In the case of Catalonia, for example, it has been proved that including a specialised educator in ordinary schools, the integration of a person with autism was possible. Obviously, the cases should be studied individually, due to the fact that we have mentioned before, that there are different cases of seriousness. Also, as this chronicle, which narrates an interview to the president of the foundation Obrir-se al món and father of David, a 24-year-old boy with ASD, indicates, the ideal would be a mixed methodology. In order to obtain the professional treatment of a specialised institution, as well as for the child to be able to socialise with people without the disorder, people he will also meet in his day-to-day life.
"It is not a question of them being with the rest of the children during all the subjects, they can have separate sessions, with the speech therapist, for example. The ideal would be a mixed formula."
Thus, the reality is that when it comes to finding the school that can offer the best service to a child with ASD, there is no universal formula. Each case is different and must be treated with the care it deserves. There will be children who need a mixed service as well as others who can only adapt to schools with individualised attention.
The best decision is to first consult with the psychologist who knows your son or daughter's case best and, afterwards, at buscarcole.com we can give you a hand by offering you a list of schools that offer psycho-pedagogical services and special attention, according to the specialist's recommendations.