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School Choices (Again)

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It seems to be a consensus on this forum that most ASD children will do better in specialist independent provision. However it is tricky for us as parents to know what such schools exist and what the strengths and weaknesses of each one are.


Coming to the end of Yr 5 (in Mainstream) we are looking more seriously at where we want him to be for secondary and it is very tricky


Does anyone know of any list of ASD and/or Dyslexia specific schools?


Does anyone have specific recommendations for schools for ASD children of above average cognative abilities?

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My eldest daughter went to one of the Priory Schools. All of the children were at or above average academically. All of the children have ASD's, a few other associated conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD.


These schools are really expensive and LEA's fight tooth and nail not to fund placements. The only reason we got a place funded was because there was no place in Wales AT ALL which was ASD specific. It seems the onus is on the parent to have to prove that all other alternatives freely available (or more cheaply available), will not be suitable.


Of course, for those who can pay the private fee's it's a different ball game.


When looking at schools remember you can visit any of them with or without your child in the first instance. Any school that isn't happy for you to visit I would avoid. I am big on gut feelings, but of course OFSTED reports etc might be useful. There are lists of independent ASD provision if you google them. Its then just trying to find out peoples experience with each one. Bearing in mind that it is different for each of our children anyway.


Good luck. x

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There is no one list and different schools suit different types of children with ASD.


A good place to start is your local ASD support group/NAS branch, as they will know the schools that your LA are most likely to fund.


Message boards and forums are good places to find out more about particular schools.


Which part of the UK do you live in?

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My son goes to a SENAD school.

For children with dyslexia you can look on the CRESTED website, which lists Dyslexia specific schools. Some take children with AS as well, often there is a crossover.


There are also schools for 'gifted' children. Not sure how you find them.


What we did with our son was to try to prioritize his diagnoses so that we knew which had the most impact. My son is ASD, not AS. He has a severe/profound speech disorder [eventhough his speech and language assessments give scores ranging from advanced to very severe]. So, we felt he was not mainstream material due to his speech and language. He also has a sensory processing disorder, so we felt he was not mainstream material from an environmental point of view. He also has an Anxiety Disorder and OCD [which at the present time impacts even more than his ASD]. So he really needed the small class sizes, high level of structure, high level of adult support and therapies on site.


You can also look on the OFSTED website and search for schools on there.


You can also ask your own authority for their list of maintained, non-maintained, approved, and independent primary and secondary schools. That will list the schools your LA is already using. There will be some independent schools on that list. Most maybe for severe autism, or emotional and behavioural problems, but you may find there is also an ASD specific school too.


And it also depends on whether you are seeking residential or not. We considered Frewen College, but then decided not to even visit because his anxiety was so high that we felt he needed to be a day pupil. But if your child is going to be residential, then you can search the whole UK for something suitable.


Sometimes you just have to go and visit a number of schools before you get to find the right school.


In our area I also looked at another school called Dawn House. I visited it too. It looked like a good school, but it was for speech and language difficulties, not ASD specific. And with my son also having an ASD, Anxiety, OCD, Dyslexia etc, I just felt that he needed a similar peer group.


There are some children that do cope mainstream. I think it depends on how anxious they are. What co-morbid diagnosis they have such as a sensory processing disorder that may mean the environment is just not suitable regardless of everything else. If there are additional SpLD such as Dyslexia that makes it even harder, because many children with dyslexia fail within mainstream, nevermind having an ASD as well.


So try to prioritize the needs/diagnosis, and what those diagnoses mean in terms of environment, teaching approaches, therapies etc.

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In fact we are on the Greater London/Surrey border but we are prepared to consider almost anywhere in the country for the school.


When looking we have three confliciting issues. Firstly he has quite severe problems arising from his Autism , secondly he is gifted in certain areas and the school will need to be able to stretch him in those areas to keep him motivated; thirdly, and perhaps most problematic, his is very young/vulnerable. Some of the supposedly "ASD" schools tend to take children with challenging behaviour and he would struggle to cope with things like that.


In fact he might well struggle to cope in a school that has other children like him - he survives in mainstream at the moment largely because his classmates are brilliant with him.


I see the key issue being the environment and teaching - to some extent we can bolt additional therapy on top of that, and we hope that the need for specific SALT/OT will diminish over the years

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Avoid schools that are mainly emotional/behavoural difficulties.


Look for an ASD/Dyslexia school where the pupils are similar cognitive ability. The peer group is important, but also hard to judge on whether they will be good with your son or not. My son has had incidents in mainstream and at the school he is at now. The difference is that at his new school there is such a high pupil/teacher or adult ratio that it gets sorted and not ignored or denied.


As children become teenagers, they get more social, and sometimes more prone to bully and tease any child that is different.


All I can say is that when we visited the school my son is at now, we just knew that was the place for him. We went around the school and saw the pupils, saw some classes working.


The need for SALT and OT may well increase, rather than diminish. With my son I have noticed that the gap between NT children and my son has widened over the years. At pre-school and part of primary he appeared on a similar level. Now the gap is wider. He needs more input for social skills, social interaction, life skills etc. He needs more work from the OT because his dyspraxia more apparent now in a larger/heavier body than when he was younger. His sensory issues still have a huge effect on him.


Have a look at Dyslexia and ASD specific schools.


"Bolting on" therapy does not work as well as having those professionals employed on site. If everyone is employed at the school they meet eachother daily [i mean staff]. If your son is having a bad day the teacher can call on the SALT or OT immediately for support or input if needed, or access to sensory room/equipment. If it is a "bolt on" service, then your son has to wait until next weeks sesson - and things may have deteriorated inbetween.

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