• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”

Online Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

online edMany autistic children find it difficult to navigate the mainstream classrooms in public schools. They can be distracted easily by all the sensory stimuli that the school environment provides. A child with autism may not be able to listen to fast speech, take notes, and absorb information in the timeframe allotted because they are unable to block out everything going on around them.

Why is Mainstream Public School Difficult for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism?

Students talking, goofing around, throwing spit-balls, and being disrespectful to teachers may be a normal part of the school experience, but for the child with sensory issues it can be an impossibly distracting environment. Navigating school hallways or changing classrooms while keeping track of their own things can also be very challenging. It can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders to keep track of where they are going, what books they need, and what needs to be brought home at the end of the day. Additionally these students who “miss” much of the work during the school day find themselves having to relearn the information when school lets out leading to long grueling hours of school and homework in the evenings.

What Are My Schooling Options, Besides Homeschool or Private School?

Online education may be the solution. Many states now offer public school online education programs, which are completely free for parents. There is no burden of material costs as there is with homeschooling students, and your student will have more structure than if left to work completely on their own. The programs are designed with multimedia curriculum giving it a distinct advantage over the regular public school for your autistic child. They have the opportunity to learn through text books, videos, audio files, and interactive online lessons. Furthermore, the program is administered and supervised by certified teachers and is considered a public school education. This is giving families both structure, and accountability.

What Makes Online Schooling Suited for Autistic Children?

Autistic children tend to need a learning environment free of distractions. With online schooling the student can work from the comfort of their own homes without all the distractions, bullying, and peer pressure that can accompany them in public school classrooms. Students attend “live” classes online and interact with their peers in an environment where they are in control. Teachers are also available by telephone and emails during school hours to assist with any assignments or to offer additional help when needed.

Two programs are currently available offered (in many states), a free public school online education called Connections Academy, and K-12.com. It is important to note that students will still be subjected to standardized state testing at test sites, and parents will be responsible for ensuring their students attend the testing sessions. Students can also still receive accommodations already listed on their Individual Education Plans (IEP) or have one set up through their school district. Many students with Asperger’s Syndrome or autism have reported a rediscovery of their love for learning after enrolling and being able to learn in an environment that is better suited to their needs.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert , contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, three of which are on the autism spectrum.
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