According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that between the ages of three and 10 there are 3.4 in every 1,000 children who are diagnosed with autism. Statistics also show that many of these same children will develop Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADH) as well. These disorders make learning challenging and frustrating; however, it has been observed through extensive research that certain teaching methods can improve comprehension and literacy. (See reference 2.)
Schools that are designed to educate students with a, ADHD, and other learning disabilities differ in both their methods and staff in comparison to public schools that offer special learning programs. At these private schools, students are given the opportunity to be around other classmates who share their same struggles and spend their entire school day working alongside teachers who have experience and degrees in the field of special education.
The founders of private learning institutes for children with learning disorders adopt a curriculum that focuses on self-esteem and individualized education so that each child appreciates who he is, while maintaining the enthusiasm to learn at his own pace.
Bridge Builder Academy is located in Plano, Texas, and offers students diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and other learning disorders the opportunity to learn at their facility either on a full- or part-time basis. Children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade are accepted.
Flint Academy in Arlington, Texas, combines special education curriculum with Christian values. The school is open Monday through Thursday only, so that teachers have the opportunity to evaluate your child's specific lesson plan according to her weekly accomplishments. Everything from the classroom colors to the lighting has been selected specifically for enriching the learning experience. Tuition is $13,650 for a first-time student at the institute, and payments can be made in installments.
The Westview School is a private, non-profit school for high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from ages 2 to 15 years. Westview is the only school in the greater Houston area that specifically serves high-functioning children with ASD. Westview’s challenging, well-rounded curriculum includes a full range of academic programs with additional focus on social communication and social skills. Westview also offers opportunities to pursue the arts, extra-curricular activities and real-world experiences, and is home to The Stewart Center, a full-service psychology clinic serving both Westview families and members of the community.
Once your child is determined to have a special learning need the school district is required to offer you the best available program. In some cases this may include a recommendation to a private facility, in which case possible financial assistance may be available. However, it's important to know that because of extensive research and qualified teachers, private learning institutions will more than likely be entirely at your own preference and expense.
Although children learn better when they are in an encouraging environment with peers who are at their same learning level, not all children with autism and ADHD need the tailored school day that specialized schools offer. A child with the right parental support and time allotted for individualized attention can be academically successful in a public school setting.
If you suspect that your child may have autism or ADHD, consult with your pediatrician as soon as possible. Formal testing has been made available for children as young as age three, so that you can start preparing and helping your family for the challenges that lie ahead.