Boarding Schools for Children with Autism
Autism is a brain disorder characterized by problems in social interactions and communication, and repetitious behaviors. The word has become an umbrella term for a wide range of conditions. Some autistic children have such severe mental handicaps that they will never learn to speak or care for themselves. Others have high IQs but appear odd because they have problems understanding other people's moods, body language and intent.
Autism may be genetic and involve differences in brain structure. For reasons no one really understands, more children than ever are being diagnosed with autism. Currently, the Center for Disease Control estimates that about one in every 150 American children is autistic, and that the disease is affecting 1.5 million families.
Doctors currently have no medical tests for autism, but base their diagnoses on observations of the child and reports from parents and teachers. Most parents recognize symptoms before their child is three years old.
Academic studies have shown that parents of autistic children are under more stress than those whose children have Down Syndrome or other mental disabilities The reason is that it is hard to understand autistic children and meet their needs. The child acts up in public places, causing embarrassment and stress to family members. Parents struggle with basic maneuvers such as bedtime, bath, meals, and outings. Clinicians tell parents to provide consistency in discipline and home schedules, and to accompany their child on a constant round of therapeutic interventions. These heroic efforts drain parents' energy levels, and make it hard to have a normal marriage and family life.
Many families use a boarding school placement even for short periods to provide them with needed respite and to help their autistic child develop living skills under the 24-hour care of professionals.
Intense 24-hour, live-in therapy can help a child improve quickly. The school will have the consistent structure that these children require.
Even a short placement can mean great improvements in a child's functioning.
Because each child is unique with a unique set of problems, parents must carefully investigate the program and the staff and make sure it is appropriate for their child.
The staff to student ratio must be such that the child receives individual attention and is safe at all times.