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autism and montessori?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello! I'm seriously considering a montessori charter school for my 5 yr. old with HFA (high functioning autism). I;m looking for other parents of kids on the spectrum who have experience with Montessori schools. How has it worked for your child? What should I look for? Questions to ask?
Thanks,
Robin
post #2 of 10
My two boys have high functioning autism and did great in their Montessori programs - it worked well for them because of the way the materials work, the ability for them to work alone if they choose, etc.

What worked well for us was doing a "trial" run to see how they would blend into the classroom - you can also find out if they will allow an aid to attend with your son if he shows the need for a bit of extra assistance. Also, look for a school that is open to special needs, whether they have or have had students with similar issues before.

Good luck! I loved (and still love!) Montessori so much that I am now home schooling my oldest w/ it.
post #3 of 10
I was a Montessori teacher. We had 2 children on the autism spectrum. They did really well with it. They really thrived with the calm atmosphere. It was a nice mix of structure and free choice.

If I could have afforded it, I would have sent my son to Montessori school.

You just need to make sure that whoever the teacher would be has experience with children on the spectrum. Or make sure that your child will have a personal aide who has that experience.
post #4 of 10
You may want to contact this school as well in Toronto:

http://www.tmsfa.com/tmsa.htm

It's a Montessori school designed for children with Autism.
post #5 of 10
My 3 yo has HFA. He is THRIVING in the M environment. It totally reinforces what we are trying to accomplish. Dr. Montessori started her work on SN kids, so this is a good fit for our kids.

1) It is largely visual, so he gets the cues he needs.
2) They teach grace and courtesy, so he gets help in social settings.
3) His OT borrows materials for therapy, since M school materials are great for building up coordination.
4) He gets to move at his own pace. He isn't rushed along like a traditional school.
5) It allows him to focus on his strengths, while being gently guided in his weak areas
6) Teachers are trained in dealing with all sorts of kids. Other kids in the school have Down's and other developmental issues
7) It teaches him conflict resolution. He can't throw things or hit when he is frustrated. He has to verbalize what is wrong.
8) Lots of peer models from different age groups. He is in a 3-6 classroom, so the older kids are excellent models.

Can you tell I'm in love with his school and teachers?

He started at a non-M school with less structure and he floundered. He regressed in language and academics. M school was a perfect fit after a couple of weeks.
post #6 of 10
I would post this is the special needs forum, you will probably find more moms in the same situation over there.
post #7 of 10
As far as what to ask...

1) Ask if they will allow outside therapists to come in and work w/ your child.
DS gets ST,OT, and Music Therapy at school.
2) Look for a district or charter M school, if possible. They will have to do all of the special ed accomodations. DS's school is private for preschool, then charter for 1-8th grade. They were used to having to make accomodations and had a special ed coordinator. They were fantastic helping us set up a program during school hours, so he can be a kid at home and have downtime.
post #8 of 10
I had a young boy with HFA in my class last year. He did wonderfully. It's too bad that the family moved, I would have liked to have seen his progress. I completely agree with christiab - the Montessori environment is, in many ways, designed to help children with a wide range (or spectrum) of ability.
Sometimes, the little boy I had would need to do his work on the ourskirts of the room (he would get overstimulated working in the middle of all the activity). He was slow to warm up but he slowly started to make some friends! He loved the freedom to move at his own pace and spent a good deal of time observing others at work.
post #9 of 10
Fiona's 3-6 Montessori class of 24 has one 3 year old guy with HFA and two kids with Sensory Processing Disorder. They are all doing great there, and as the parent of a "typical" kid, it has absolutely enriched the Montessori 3-6 experience for Fiona, who has grown into the "big" 6 year old this year who has learned that EVERYBODY has something important to contribute to the community. We also have 4 cousins with various abilities on the autism spectrum from ages 10 to 39; Fiona's favorite cousin in Colin, the 10 year old,and I think that her living for the past 4 years in her Montessori community has helped her to deepen her attachment to Colin.

I'd also agree with Matt Bronsil re: the tmfsa site; however, it may have switched names to the Lane Montessori School for Autism. Although I had planned on attending the AMS conference last week in Washington DC to hear the school founder's talk, I was not able to get time off from work so a school friend brought me her handouts which have this new name....but I did not yet look it up online.
post #10 of 10
I have had children with HFA in my classroom before and it has worked wonderfully. I will post more this weekend. I have a class early tomorrow morning then have to do a comedy show - both stand up and improv comedy - tomorrow night.

It's going to be a LONG weekend.

Matt
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