Many parents whose child have been diagnosed with autism often consider sending their autistic child into a regular preschool. This is because they would like their child to grow up in a normal environment with “normal” children. They further believe that exposing their child to this environment will help their child adjust better in life and will help their child develop the social skills that they lack.
While doing so may be possible under certain circumstances, unfortunately, in general, this is often not a good idea.
While your intentions for putting your child in an ordinary preschool may be good, you have to realize that such preschools are not prepared and equipped to provide your child with the best learning experience.
The fact is, the typical preschool’s environment is not conducive to your child’s development. As such, he will be encountering a lot of situations which he may find difficult and challenging. This will only result in additional stress and frustration not only for your child but also for you.
One major thing you need to consider is that teachers in a typical preschool are not trained on how to handle children with autism. They are not exposed to the behavior of autistic children and will not know how to respond or communicate with your child. As such, they will have absolutely no clue on how to handle your child and at worst, they may even think that your child is a “bad” student.
Another thing to consider is the fact that autistic children rarely learn by imitation. This means, that merely being surrounded by regular children who have developed social skills will not teach your child how to behave socially. As your child does not know how to relate with the other children, there is a greater risk for your child to be left out. Further, the amount of physical interaction that is required of the children in a regular preschool may be too much for your autistic child to handle. He may be overwhelmed not only with the social interaction activities but also by the noise from the other children.
In addition, you also need to consider the fact that the ordinary preschool setting does not provide programs such as the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). As this is the case, your child will likely end up attending both the regular preschool and his ABA sessions in one day. Some children may be okay with this schedule while some may find this to be too tiring.
As you can see, there are many hurdles that can hamper your child’s development when you decide to put him in a preschool. However, if you are still determined to give the regular preschool a try, you need to spend time in choosing the preschool carefully. Always be prepared to help out in school and always have a back up plan.