No matter how severe a child’s condition with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they have a right to a free, appropriate public education. From the moment a child enters a preschool special education program, state and federal government guarantees protections and benefits to make sure they receive an appropriate education without cost to parents. However, finding the best program for your child or children can be a challenge. It involves knowing your child’s rights, your rights as a parent, and the unique needs of your child.
Beginning preschool is a major event for children and parents. For many, it will be the first time regular separation will occur, which can present particular challenges. These issues can range from the practical to the emotional. At Ascend Autism, our experienced experts can serve as a guide for parents in making decisions about what preschool special education program will best meet the needs of the family and the child.
What to Consider when Looking for a Preschool
At Ascend Autism, we can work as an advocate or aide for you and your child. Our experts can assist you as you contact your local school district and speak with them about your child’s needs. We can educate parents about the supports and services you should expect for your child. Our team can do this thanks to our holistic n program and the ability to provide a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s condition. For families with children with special needs in NY and CT, parents will usually need to speak with the Committee on Preschool Special Education or CPSE.
There are some common things to consider as your child or children enter a preschool special education program. Often, children with ASD become easily overwhelmed or experience sensory overload. This is why it’s vital to keep track of triggers or contexts, especially those that may be considered standard activities, so the child can learn to process them in their way and at their own pace. Every classroom ought to have strategies for reducing occurrences, whether special education or not. Also, while some with ASD struggle with language, not all do. Programs should not paint with a broad brush. Yet, those with ASD do tend to be visual learners so a preschool or preschool special education program that uses strong visual tools and activities will most likely benefit a child with ASD.
Questions To Ask of Your Preschool Special Education Program
Being informed is perhaps the most effective way to find the preschool special education program that would best fit your child or children’s needs. However, many parents aren’t sure what they should be looking for or what questions they should ask. Ascend Autism can coach you through the process and put you in contact with resources for children with special needs, such as the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE). Some good questions to ask and issues to consider include:
- How is the classroom structured? Is there a clear schedule for the children to follow? What are the different areas for play, reading, art, etc.? Also, ask about how teachers transition between activities (as children with ASD often need clear signals).
- Are self-help skills taught? Also, parents need to know the procedures used in the classroom to socialize the children. For a child with ASD, a program encouraging interaction is preferred. But this has to be accomplished in a very structured manner.
- Also, there are practical concerns. How is the playground structured? Children with ASD shouldn’t necessarily be allowed to wander. Does your child have a food allergy or intolerance, and if so, how is the preschool special education program going to deal with it? No child likes to feel isolated or conspicuous.
- Finally, how does the classroom handle bathroom breaks or reminders? And if there is an accident, how will it be addressed?
These questions aren’t dissimilar from those of a standard preschool program. However, parents with a child or children with ASD must make sure they get specific, clear answers and make sure educators follow through.
Finding the right preschool special education program is vital for children with ASD. In the right program, children will learn how to best cope and manage their condition. As they grow, they’ll develop and progress in the best manner possible. Ascend Autism’s experts are here to help parents sift through the information and find just what they need. We have an array of services for treating autism spectrum disorder and commit ourselves to help children and families cope. For instance, we offer the following: