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How can I help my child with autism do well at school?

If your child is being treated for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), you can help him in his school in the following ways:

  • Consider a specialized school. Depending on your child's situation and the treatment plan, you may want to consider a school that specializes in this disorder. This strategy may be especially helpful in the early years—ages 7 and under.
  • Meet with teachers and other school staff. Make sure your child's teachers understand autism or Asperger's. Work with them to develop a school plan with behavior goals (much like your home plan). Make sure they participate in follow-up evaluations. Involve the school counselor and principal as needed.
  • Get involved. Attend school events and meetings. Volunteer in your child's classroom. You'll gain insight into your child and build valuable relationships with school staff.
  • Know your rights. Your child may need special services at school. Two federal laws outline your child's right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) regardless of disability: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), part B; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

*Asperger syndrome, or Asperger's, is a term that is no longer used as a formal diagnosis. In current diagnostic criteria, the syndrome is included under the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

Chantal Sicile-Kira
Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Specialist

Parents should, as much as possible, include or relate their child's special interest in any homework or projects. If this is not possible, use the special interest as a motivator (i.e., "When you are done with your homework, you can do this for an hour."). As well, try to find a trusted adult mentor who knows about the topic, or a hobby club that has to do with that special interest. Then your child will have an opportunity to discuss it with someone, learn more, and develop social skills based on the topic. His self-esteem will rise when he can connect to others using his interest.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.