Where Are the Best Schools for Kids with Autism?

A reader writes:

Why can't I seem to find any information on where the best schools in America are for children with autism?  My family is willing to relocate anywhere in the U.S. in order for our oldest son to get a chance at the best education possible, but I can't seem to find any information available.  What is even more frustrating is that my wife is a Pre-K Teacher ).  You would think that we would have access to information regarding school districts and specific schools nationally.

  Any insight, resources, websites, or direction you could offer would be appreciated as we are considering relocating within the next year and would like to make the best choice we can for our son.

Here's how I responded:

I think that's because everyone has a different idea about what's "best" for a child with autism, and every child with autism is different.  Some parents rave about the "special" programs in their school, while others take the same schools to court to fight for inclusion. Some want to see schools stress academics, while others feel social and communication skills are key.

As a result of parental pressure, budgets, local resources and district philosophy, schools vary tremendously in what they offer - and parents vary in how they respond.  Some schools are terrific for kids with Aspergers, while others have terrific life skills programs.  Some are gung-ho for inclusion, while others feel specialized programs are the way to go.

  And still others are generous with their cash for private settings.  Some have ABA classes; some use RDI or Floortime or TEACCH.

I'd suggest that you zero in on a few locations that look promising, and then connect with parents in those areas through Autism Society of America chapters and special ed parent groups.

  Find out what parents think, what's offered, etc.  Then visit.

Honestly, I don't think there IS a "best" autism setting.  It's all about your child's needs and your preferences.

What do you feel is the best type of program for a child with autism?  Are you happy with an "ABA classroom?"  Full inclusion?  A focus on social or academic skills?  Share your insights!

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