Image for autism in school Children with autism spectrum disorder face unique challenges when they enter school. Their learning, social, behavioral, and communication problems may make it difficult for them to access education in a typical classroom. School-based services can be a tool to support your child in an academic setting.

The first step is to learn about the types of services that may be available and how they can support your child.

Getting Started

Begin by contacting your local school department and sharing your concerns. They can help determine the services that best meet your child’s needs. In the United States, children are tested before an education plan is developed to meet their needs.

Your child’s doctor and other health providers may also be involved in suggesting services or service options.

Counseling

Children with autism often need school-based counseling to support their emotional needs. The type of counseling used may include:

  • A counselor to help your child with personal, social, emotional, and academic concerns throughout the school year and during times of crisis
  • Social skills groups led by a counselor to help your child learn how to interact with peers
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis to understand your child’s behavior and to make changes that may help your child adapt

Occupational, Physical, and Speech and Language Therapy

Depending on your child’s unique needs, the following therapies may be used:

  • Occupational therapy to help your child be successful in the learning environment by improving fine motor skills and organizational skills, or making classroom changes
  • Physical therapy to help your child move in the school environment and take part in classroom activities
  • Speech and language therapy to help your child with speech, voice, or language disorders

Other Services

Other services may also be needed to support your child in the classroom. For example, your child may need an aide to provide support throughout the school day. Or your child may need academic support or services to maintain skills during long breaks such as summer vacation.

Talk to your local school department to determine the services that best fit your child’s needs and allow your child to access an education.