I recently read an article from one of my favorite bloggers, Autism With a Side of Fries, about her son’s experience after being placed in a new school.
Like many parents, Eileen, the blog’s author, had to make the decision to change schools for the benefit of her child.
While the details of our circumstances were different (as is generally the case with autism), I could somewhat relate to her decision, having recently placed my son in online school.
It was not an easy decision to make – we had to weigh the possible benefits of the unknown of the new school against the known downsides of the old school.
We had to remember that there were good things about his old school, things that he enjoyed, and be aware that there would be things that he would not enjoy in the new school.
And we had to be aware that this kind of major change would cause him stress, no matter how good a change it was.
I am certain that Eileen engaged in the same kinds of careful analyses on behalf of her child, and prepared for all the variables and consequences which could have arisen.
I was delighted to read that her son’s first few weeks in the new school were going very well.
She described all the ways the new school was a terrific a fit and how well her son was responding, but one line really stood out to me.
It was about how the school handled common and not unexpected behaviors – at the end of the day on which the behavior happened, the school essentially told her
This happened and this is how we handled it
They knew what they were dealing with, they knew what to do, they handled it, and appropriately informed mom and dad.
No phone calls in the middle of the day with mildly annoyed or confused tones of voice, as if they really didn’t know what to do or that their inability to deal with the behavior was somehow the parent’s fault.
No inferences, suggestions, or outright requests to pick up the child to make the problem go away.
There is nothing more unsettling than the feeling that a school, the place where your child spends almost all of his waking hours, is not entirely sure of or confident about how to handle your child.
Especially when it is the common and expected behavior of a child on the autism spectrum.
Alternatively, there is nothing more reassuring than receiving obvious and objective evidence that a school has the knowledge and professionalism to provide your child exactly what he needs when he needs it.
I don’t know if there are any statistics on how many parents make the decision to change their child’s school placement; or how many parents wish they could change their child’s school but for whatever reason cannot do it.
I wonder what those numbers might reveal about how well schools really know how to support children on the spectrum.
Have you changed your child’s school? Or wanted to?
Also published on Medium.