Choosing a School For Children With Autism In Singapore
As a parent of a child with autism, the search for a school that will be the best fit for your little one can feel daunting.
While there are many institutions in Singapore such as mainstream and special education (SPED) schools that cater to children with special needs, not all of them provide the same level of support.
Choosing the right school is an important decision, and it is one that should not be taken lightly. Here are three factors to consider before making your decision.
1. Fully understand the condition of your child
Before you start choosing a school, take the time to understand your child’s habits and behaviours. There are many different types of autism, all of which affect individuals in different ways. Educate yourself on autism and which spectrum your child falls under.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental order that affects a child’s ability to interact and communicate with others. The child will have difficulties and impairment in three key areas:
Social interaction, and
Interest, activities, and other behaviours
There are five different types of autism diagnosis:
Childhood disintegrative disorder,
Kanner's syndrome, and
Pervasive developmental disorder
Every child is different, so two children may have the same diagnosis of ASD yet progress at different pace and need different kinds of support.
2. Decide between a mainstream school and a special needs school
Mainstream schools are those that cater to the general student population, providing a traditional education. However, mainstream schools do have Allied Educators in Learning and Behavioural Support (AEDLBS) and Teachers Trained in Special Needs (TSNs) who can teach specific skills in reading, spelling, socialisation, and organisation.
There are approximately 80 percent of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) studying in Singapore’s mainstream schools. Most of them have dyslexia, ADHD, or mild autism.
Meanwhile, SPED schools provide education for children with disabilities. Customised programmes are available in these schools. These programmes aim to equip children with valuable life and vocational skills that can help them live an independent life. Class sizes are also deliberately kept small so each child can receive more attention and support from the teacher.
The type of school to choose ultimately depends on your child’s learning and behavioural needs.
3. Able to cater to your child's special educational needs
Going to a school can be a challenging experience for children with autism, but there are ways to make it more accommodating.
Once you’re aware of your child’s needs and decide on the type of school to send him to, be involved in your child's education by talking to his teachers. There are many strategies that can be implemented in the classroom, including visual aids, break time accommodations, and modified lesson plans. Discuss with your child’s teachers the best way to implement the recommended strategies. With the right support, your little one can still thrive in school.
Help your child integrate in school with Early Intervention
No child is the same, so why should all schools be the same? Every family has different needs and priorities, so it's important to find a supportive school that can accommodate your specific situation. You will need to spend effort to find the right school, but it will be worth it when you see your child thriving in an appropriate setting.
At MindChamps Allied Care, our Early Intervention Programme (EIP)’s main aim is to prepare your child for school, be it at a mainstream or SPED school in Singapore. Other than equipping your child with skills in cognition and perception; communication and language; social skills; fine and gross motor skills, and self-help skills, we will also provide a holistic assessment for you to understand where your child can go in the next schooling stage of his life. Enquire about our four-session trial programme or book a visit to our centre now!