Hello all! My husband and I have a big decision to make. We found out that we were approved for a two-year extension visa extension for his job in the United Kingdom last month, which coincided with our almost-four-year-old's classic autism diagnosis. It's a lot to process! We're going around in circles trying to decide whether to stay in Yorkshire or move back to our home office in Baltimore, Maryland, and we keep coming back to the same issue: we have NO idea what the American system is like.
Some important points:
1. She is verbal
2. She will need occupational therapy
3. We are not in military service but while we're on overseas assignments we can utilize base medical services and possibly get an American IEP established through a base school
4. In the UK she receives these services free through the NHS and the county: speech therapy (not weekly, but we have stacks of exercises to do at home), occupational therapy (same), social pragmatics group (weekly), and a 1:1 aide during her one full day of private Montessori preschool (she does half-days Monday and Friday and a full day Wednesday). They do extensive social pragmatics and fine motor work with her at school. We could not afford an equivalent private school in the United States. She will do "Reception" (Pre-K) there.
5. We have been corresponding with a lot of autistic adults and because of their stories (many feel it was tantamount to abuse), we have serious reservations about behavioral therapy. We also are a little strict about how doctors speak to and about our daughter: we refuse to allow them to use the words "deficits/splinter skills," and we don't find terms like "high-functioning/low-functioning" to be useful language to describe autism. This is just by way of saying...we might butt heads with professionals. :)
6. We don't really know much about what special education looks like in our local elementary, but we are assured by the therapists that our neighborhood school is a stand-out in a town of good elementary schools.
We love it here in the UK. It's been an amazing experience for our family, and the additional income from overseas benefits packages allows me to stay home with my children--something we don't think we could afford to do in Maryland where the cost of living is so high. But we know that in Baltimore we would be so close to Kennedy Krieger Institute and other amazing resources (...for a price).
That said, and knowing that services vary wildly even by towns within counties within states, and vary even more wildly by child...help! Share your stories! Are you constantly fighting with insurance companies or schools? If you homeschool, do you find there's local support (we haven't ruled that out)? We have meetings soon with a developmental pediatrician and with all the therapists, but we need US data points to help make our call! Thanks!!