Autism is by no means a rare condition, though there is still a great deal of research that needs to be completed in order to truly understand the cause of this condition and the best way to treat it. If you have a child who suffers from autism, just getting through the day can be wrought with challenges. The thought of sending your autistic child to school – to an environment that could be scary and overwhelming for your child – may cause you to panic. With education and preparation, however, you can get your autistic child ready for school.
In this article you will learn some background information about autism to help you understand the unique challenges your child may face in school. You will also receive some detailed tips to help prepare yourself and your child to make the transition into school as smooth as possible. The more prepared you are, and the more prepared your child is, the better he will be able to transition into a school setting.
Understanding the Basics of Autism
Autism spectrum disorder, more commonly known as autism, is actually a general term for a group of complex disorders affecting brain development. Autism affects the child’s social interactions as well as his verbal and nonverbal communication skills and repetitive behaviors. Every child with autism is unique, though in general autism seems to be rooted in early brain development. Signs of autism tend to manifest between the ages of 2 and 3 years, though they can
The quality of your child’s education will have a significant impact on the rest of his life. The education he receives while he is young will prepare him for higher education and, eventually, a career. The challenge is, however, that there are many different types of schools to choose from. If you want your child to receive the best education available to him, consider enrolling him in a magnet school.
What is a Magnet School?
A magnet school is a type of public school that, while still part of the local public school system, has a particular curricular focus. In many ways, magnet schools are just another type of school but there are some key features which set these schools apart. In the United States, magnet schools are developed around a core set of five principles according to the Magnet Schools of America organization. These five pillars include the following things:
- Diversity – Part of what sets magnet schools apart from other schools is the focus on diversity which gives students a global educational experience. Through recruitment and lottery systems, magnet schools strive to develop a student body that is reflective of the surrounding community.
- Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development – Each magnet school has a particular theme and the curriculum is relevant to that theme, designed to prepare students for higher education and eventual career success.
- Academic Excellence – Magnet schools are committed to multi-dimensional instruction which is focused on the needs of the students. Various assessment strategies are used to monitor student
They say that teaching is a thankless job – not only are teachers underpaid, but many of them dedicate countless hours of their free time to do extra work for their students. Being a teacher in general can be very difficult, but being a special needs teacher comes with its own unique set of challenges. Whether you are a special needs teacher or the parent of a special needs child, keep reading to learn some helpful tips for making the most of your child’s education.
What are the Challenges of Working with Special Needs Students?
Compared to most other professions, the burn-out rate for special needs teachers is extremely high – approximately 50% of special education teachers leave their jobs within just 5 years. Teaching is a difficult and stressful career in and of itself, but special education adds an extra layer of difficulty. Some of the biggest challenges of working with special needs students are as follows:
- Lack of parental support. You can pour your heart and soul into your efforts as a special education teacher but if the child’s parents are not on board, all of that work could be for nothing. Having a positive relationship with the parents of your students is essential.
- Lack of appreciation. Teachers do not teach because it is a prestigious or high-paying career – they do it for love of the students. Still, a little appreciation goes a long way, especially in a challenging and stressful field like special education.
- Too much paperwork. Every special needs
If you live in the United States you cannot help but be aware of the gender gap. In the professional world, men are paid more than women and women often do not receive the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But how does the gender gap manifest in schools, especially public schools?
The sad truth of the matter is that low-income students often do not receive the same quality of instruction or educational opportunities as upper class students, but even within the lower income class there are disparities between boys and girls. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that low-income boys are more disadvantaged than low-income girls and they may have a harder time breaking out of the broken public school system to make a better life for themselves.
Public School Statistics in the United States
According to the Southern Education Foundation (SEF), low-income students have become the majority in children attending public schools. A survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) showed that 51% of the students in the U.S. public school system came from low-income families in 2013. In some states the percentage is even higher. For example, in Mississippi the number of low-income children in public schools is 71% - that is nearly three out of four students.
Not only are these statistics troubling in terms of educational disparity, but the SEF comments that, “No longer can we consider the problems and needs of low income students simply a matter of fairness… their success
The fact of the matter is that some students learn more quickly than others and some students need more individualized attention. In order to accommodate for the differing needs of their students, many schools started to adopt a tracking system, separating students by academic ability into different groups for certain subjects or for all subjects. This type of program is sometimes called ability grouping (though these are technically two different things) and it is a hotly debated issue in public schools. Before you decide whether tracking might be a good option for your child, take a moment to learn what it is as well as the pros and cons of this type of system.
What is Tracking or Ability Grouping?
Also referred to as phasing or streaming, tracking is a system in which students are divided into classes based on their overall achievement. Students are ranked as being average, normal, or below average and they are divided into classes with students of the same achievement level. Tracking has been used in American public schools for nearly a century and it has changed and developed a great deal during that time. In the early years, tracking was a response to growing numbers of immigrant children coming into the public school system. The goal was to provide those children with an education that was catered to their limited understanding of the English language and their limited preparation, as compared to native students. What ended up happening, however, was a form of internal segregation