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Tantybi
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18 Oct 2009, 11:28 am

So here's a link I found from one of the google ads, and so far it sounds kinda cool... http://www.fa-ct.org/

It really sounds like they nurture the strengths and re-shape the weaknesses in a very positive environment, but that's what the site says. You never know how the school really is until you've gone. If my children were of the right age, I think it would be worth visiting and checking out.

Either way, I think that makes more sense than some of the other options because finally, someone who gets the idea of actual treatment. Most of psychology focuses only on the weaknesses. Autism is both a blessing and a curse, and it's about time someone else realizes that.

What do you think?


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18 Oct 2009, 1:15 pm

Our educational system is all about compartmentalizing human beings: All boys school, All girls school; schools for disabilities and schools for the gifted. On and on and on.....

Out here in the real world there is no way to be quite so selective about who one works with, learns with and sometimes lives with. I fail to see how a school that requires seperation of people with different attributes to be a way to prepare them for a world where there is little seperation.



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18 Oct 2009, 5:50 pm

I think specialized schools for people with AS/NLD are a good idea because there, students would be taught social skills and are going to be accepted, not ostracized. It's a pity that so many people with AS who have had to endure bullying in their childhood are haunted by these experiences throughout their lifetime. It thus decreases their self confidence, which in turn ends up limiting their success. Young people with AS living in that area are very lucky to have a school like that nearby.

Besides, they would not be isolated from the real world. There are still going to be neighborhood kids. There are still going to be extracurriculars. A school like this would just help provide a more smooth transition into the harsh reality.


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18 Oct 2009, 6:05 pm

MathGirl wrote:
I think specialized schools for people with AS/NLD are a good idea because there, students would be taught social skills and are going to be accepted, not ostracized.

How would one be taught the practical, real-life applications of social skills in a school populated by individuals with a predisposition to avoid social interaction? I can all but guarantee that teachers alone cannot do this. Any educational professional will tell you that more than 50% of what a child learns is through interaction with his/her peers.

MathGirl wrote:
It's a pity that so many people with AS who have had to endure bullying in their childhood are haunted by these experiences throughout their lifetime. It thus decreases their self confidence, which in turn ends up limiting their success.

This applies to so many more people besides those on the spectrum. "Bullying" is not AS-exclusive.

MathGirl wrote:
Besides, they would not be isolated from the real world. There are still going to be neighborhood kids. There are still going to be extracurriculars.

All of which are optional. Are you telling me that after attending 6-ish hours of school that is completely safe and undestanding that a child on the spectrum is going to run outside to play ball with the public-school "bullies" the parents were helping that AS child to avoid to begin with? Not hardly. Social skills are taught most easily in the formative years. Buffer that and you'll end up stunting the social growth of a child indefinately.

MathGirl wrote:
A school like this would just help provide a more smooth transition into the harsh reality.

On this we will have to agree to disagree on. If I were to have a child on the spectrum (such as myself) I would insist the child tough it out in public school. That way the "transition" into the real world would be not only smooth but I feel my cild would be better prepared.



MathGirl
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18 Oct 2009, 6:37 pm

WritersBlock wrote:
How would one be taught the practical, real-life applications of social skills in a school populated by individuals with a predisposition to avoid social interaction? I can all but guarantee that teachers alone cannot do this. Any educational professional will tell you that more than 50% of what a child learns is through interaction with his/her peers.
Far from all kids with AS have a predisposition to avoid social interaction. They, on the contrary, try to make friends and be accepted, but end up being shunned because of their differences. In my opinion, they are more likely to find friends at a school like this, thus having way more opportunities to practice social skills than at a regular school.

WritersBlock wrote:
"Bullying" is not AS-exclusive.
Right. However, most people with AS end up getting bullied at school. Don't you think that it's better to prevent bullying as much as possible, knowing the groups of people who are more likely to be bullied and putting them in a safer environment?

WritersBlock wrote:
If I were to have a child on the spectrum (such as myself) I would insist the child tough it out in public school. That way the "transition" into the real world would be not only smooth but I feel my child would be better prepared.
In my opinion, public school is just too sudden for a child on the spectrum. Maybe it's better to make a school like this elementary only, because that's the time when kids are still immature and don't understand what sorts of behaviours are simply unnacceptable. At high school, students are much more accepting.
From my own experience, I did not learn anything socially until I became respected for something, until I've acknowledged my strengths. Being depressed all the time at elementary school stopped me from doing that. I couldn't even touch schoolwork because it reminded me of the problems I was going through at school. I could have developed so much better, both academically and socially, if people around me were more understanding.


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18 Oct 2009, 9:28 pm

MathGirl wrote:
Don't you think that it's better to prevent bullying as much as possible, knowing the groups of people who are more likely to be bullied and putting them in a safer environment?

Absolutely not. There will be bullies in all walks, all aspects and all classes of people. Even among Aspies there are those that would bully their own "kind" (this forum is proof of that). To "bully" is human nature. To remove it would devolve human kind to apathetic chimpanzies.



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18 Oct 2009, 9:45 pm

What worries me about schools for AS is that they can easily turn into "school for disabled/troubled kids" and give the staff leeway to become abusive. I know there are abusive teachers even in the public schools, but it happens less often and isn't as easy for the school to excuse. There are a great many schools that are abusive, especially residential schools; and in that environment, an AS child's education (not to mention their psychological and physical well-being) can only suffer...

http://www.isaccorp.org/


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18 Oct 2009, 9:52 pm

If it was well-designed, and run at least in part by people on the spectrum, then I would think it's a good idea. Right now I'm dependent on social security simply because anxiety keeps me from being able to work. That anxiety is rooted almost completely in public school.

There are entire weeks when I don't leave the house because being around other people is so stressful.



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18 Oct 2009, 10:01 pm

I went to a small private Christian school when I was growing up. When I had to go to a public school I freaked out. My class size went from 15 to 100 people just like that and I felt it was pointless meeting anyone new so I didn't bother most of the time. I think i HAD the capacity to make friends but just didn't want to cos of other reasons. Like I thought if I acted badly enough I could get out of there or these people aren't of the same faith and beliefs as me so why would I bother with them? After a term of that I just point blank refused to go back there. I did correspondence for the rest of the year then went back to the first school. I fitted back in well and continued on normally.

So my point is you don't necessarily need an 'aspie' school. Just one with caring teachers and nice classmates.



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19 Oct 2009, 7:31 am

WritersBlock wrote:
MathGirl wrote:
Don't you think that it's better to prevent bullying as much as possible, knowing the groups of people who are more likely to be bullied and putting them in a safer environment?

Absolutely not. There will be bullies in all walks, all aspects and all classes of people. Even among Aspies there are those that would bully their own "kind" (this forum is proof of that). To "bully" is human nature. To remove it would devolve human kind to apathetic chimpanzies.


... oh yeah. Course...


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Katie_WPG
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19 Oct 2009, 8:23 am

With schools like this, you have to be VERY careful. Especially high schools.

Are they accredited? Do they offer College/University entrance courses (depending on the school system, either "advanced" courses, or just "normal" classes)?

My experience with "alternative" schools is that they aren't taken seriously by post-secondary institutions, especially if they are designated as "schools for the disabled".

Back when I was in grade school, the only "alternative disabled" schools that existed were for severely disabled children who the system had essentially given up on. They were included in elementary school classrooms, to teach the other children tolerance. As soon as it came time to attend middle school, they were seperated (mainly because they became increasingly difficult to deal with, and the middle school teachers didn't want to deal with them). They weren't really sent to "schools" in the traditional sense of the word, just free adolescent babysitting.

A system like that would work just fine if there were no doubt that the children attending those schools weren't going to College/University, aren't going to be finding a job independently, and were going to end up in a group home, but that isn't the case with children with AS. They DO have the potential to attend post-secondary, work, and live independently.

Motivational barriers are only half of the problem, institutional barriers are just as much of a problem.

There has been a tendency as of late to pigeon-hole children with AS into remedial programs for the sole purpose of making them more comfortable in the short-term. I've seen people attend these programs, only to stay at home for years on end afterwards. They are simply too afraid to rejoin the "real world", especially since the jobs they WOULD be interested in are closed off to them because they have special ed credits on their high school transcript.



Tantybi
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19 Oct 2009, 9:56 am

JohnnyD017 wrote:
I went to a small private Christian school when I was growing up. When I had to go to a public school I freaked out. My class size went from 15 to 100 people just like that and I felt it was pointless meeting anyone new so I didn't bother most of the time. I think i HAD the capacity to make friends but just didn't want to cos of other reasons. Like I thought if I acted badly enough I could get out of there or these people aren't of the same faith and beliefs as me so why would I bother with them? After a term of that I just point blank refused to go back there. I did correspondence for the rest of the year then went back to the first school. I fitted back in well and continued on normally.

So my point is you don't necessarily need an 'aspie' school. Just one with caring teachers and nice classmates.


I had a very similar experience. I went from K-6 at a Christian School who served K-12 with about 100 kids in all 12 grades. Then, my parents moved. We moved on September 1 when I was starting school on Sept 4. That 7th grade Junior High was aweful. There were over 100 kids in 7th grade alone, and it was the Jr High school the area that people who think they are rich live in as well as areas of middle class. There was a big gap between those who had money and those who didn't. I fell into the category of the child whose parents didn't have any money just because we didn't like the rich area. Fortunately, I only went there for a year and a half until my father found the house he wanted in a different district. I go to that school, and they thought I was a rich kid...lol. Either way, both schools, I had a hard time making friends. The Christian kids' parents all went to church with my parents, and many were nice to me because they had to, and I was too young to know the difference. Ignorance is bliss. The public school system is just a crude place for any child.


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Tantybi
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19 Oct 2009, 10:17 am

MathGirl wrote:
WritersBlock wrote:
How would one be taught the practical, real-life applications of social skills in a school populated by individuals with a predisposition to avoid social interaction? I can all but guarantee that teachers alone cannot do this. Any educational professional will tell you that more than 50% of what a child learns is through interaction with his/her peers.
Far from all kids with AS have a predisposition to avoid social interaction. They, on the contrary, try to make friends and be accepted, but end up being shunned because of their differences. In my opinion, they are more likely to find friends at a school like this, thus having way more opportunities to practice social skills than at a regular school.

WritersBlock wrote:
"Bullying" is not AS-exclusive.
Right. However, most people with AS end up getting bullied at school. Don't you think that it's better to prevent bullying as much as possible, knowing the groups of people who are more likely to be bullied and putting them in a safer environment?

WritersBlock wrote:
If I were to have a child on the spectrum (such as myself) I would insist the child tough it out in public school. That way the "transition" into the real world would be not only smooth but I feel my child would be better prepared.
In my opinion, public school is just too sudden for a child on the spectrum. Maybe it's better to make a school like this elementary only, because that's the time when kids are still immature and don't understand what sorts of behaviours are simply unnacceptable. At high school, students are much more accepting.
From my own experience, I did not learn anything socially until I became respected for something, until I've acknowledged my strengths. Being depressed all the time at elementary school stopped me from doing that. I couldn't even touch schoolwork because it reminded me of the problems I was going through at school. I could have developed so much better, both academically and socially, if people around me were more understanding.


On bullying, I'm sure this school even has it's share of bullies.

On the age group, I figure junior high school to be the best time to go to a school like this and then back into the public schools for high school. Grade schools are more about learning and recess, and by the time 6th grade roles around, you have friends just because they've known you for so long. Ah, but once you hit junior high, your old friends are trying to be popular and many will decide they are too good for you. School is no longer about learning but the popularity contest, and junior high kids are the meanest when it comes to bullying (verbally and physically) because they are all starting puberty at that time too. It's like sticking a bunch of pregnant women into one room. They start growing out of it in 9th grade, and by the time you hit 10th grade, high school is high school. Some bullying, some friends, some crappy teachers, the great teacher you will never forget, worries about life and college, abstract reasoning, partying, experimentation, etc. I don't like the idea of my kids personally being away at boarding school through the high school years no matter how awesome that school is because of the whole rebel/partying/experimentation learning maturity thing. I want to be around for that personally, and I wouldn't trust anyone else with that job.

With my kids, AS or not, I always said (before I had kids this was my plan) that once they hit junior high, I'm home schooling them for a couple years and travelling. I still might try to do that since my kids are so close in age as long as whatever job we have at that time can allow for it. I personally believe the best way to learn about people is travel and meet different types of people and cultures. In addition, every trip can be a learning experience with academics. Oh yeah, travel is great for immune systems. Either way, I am to the point where I think the public junior high school / middle school system is pretty useless. To me, they are nothing more than a baby sitter. After that, the high school education needs some work, but it doesn't really matter since high school is more about learning to socialize than about learning anything else.


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Tantybi
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19 Oct 2009, 10:31 am

Katie_WPG wrote:
With schools like this, you have to be VERY careful. Especially high schools.

Are they accredited? Do they offer College/University entrance courses (depending on the school system, either "advanced" courses, or just "normal" classes)?

My experience with "alternative" schools is that they aren't taken seriously by post-secondary institutions, especially if they are designated as "schools for the disabled".

Back when I was in grade school, the only "alternative disabled" schools that existed were for severely disabled children who the system had essentially given up on. They were included in elementary school classrooms, to teach the other children tolerance. As soon as it came time to attend middle school, they were seperated (mainly because they became increasingly difficult to deal with, and the middle school teachers didn't want to deal with them). They weren't really sent to "schools" in the traditional sense of the word, just free adolescent babysitting.

A system like that would work just fine if there were no doubt that the children attending those schools weren't going to College/University, aren't going to be finding a job independently, and were going to end up in a group home, but that isn't the case with children with AS. They DO have the potential to attend post-secondary, work, and live independently.

Motivational barriers are only half of the problem, institutional barriers are just as much of a problem.

There has been a tendency as of late to pigeon-hole children with AS into remedial programs for the sole purpose of making them more comfortable in the short-term. I've seen people attend these programs, only to stay at home for years on end afterwards. They are simply too afraid to rejoin the "real world", especially since the jobs they WOULD be interested in are closed off to them because they have special ed credits on their high school transcript.


This school seems different than what you say. Instead of being an alternative/disabled school, it's a boarding college prep school, and it's designed for those with, I love how they say this, "Nonverbal learning differences." This one is also accredited with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It doesn't seem remedial in the slightest as much as they harness the strengths and also supplement normal classes with help on the weaknesses (such as social problems).

From their site:

Quote:
Most of our students have an auditory learning style preference. Typical strengths include advanced reading and decoding skills, a sophisticated vocabulary, enhanced verbal ability, superior rote memory, and expertise with computers. Auditory perception and alternative thinking skills are usually quite strong, and these students often prefer interacting with adults and younger children.

Our program is designed to support our students’ learning style and to enhance their strengths, while responding appropriately to the challenges of NLD and AS which can include some of the following features: poor time management skills, organizational difficulties, dyspraxia, visual-spatial weaknesses, slower processing speed, fine motor difficulties, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and problems with abstract conceptual reasoning, subtle social cues, and transitions. Compensatory strategies to address these challenges, as well as the development of social skills and independent living skills, are programmatic priorities. Franklin Academy’s small classes, the multi-modal and differentiated instruction, and close student-faculty relationships are of particular benefit for all of our students.



Either way, I do believe before taking any kid to any school, you should research all these things like accreditation and college entry courses, even in the public school system.


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19 Oct 2009, 4:28 pm

I think it sounds like a great place. On paper. You'd have to visit to see how true they stay to their stated mission. But I do like their stated aims.