According to the national advocacy organization Autism Speaks, autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) impact more than two million children and adults in the U.S. While there is no definitive cause and no known cure for the disorder, attending a specialized school can help autistic children develop lifelong coping skills. Families living in Indiana will find an array of schooling options to address the academic and social needs of autistic students.
Autistic School Facilities
Before deciding on a school for a child with ASD, visit several educational institutions and look for facilities that will address the child's needs. Find a school that features specialized therapy and social areas, as well as professionally licensed faculty trained to work with autistic students. For example, the Cornerstone Autism Center in Greenwood has gross-motor rooms, an occupational therapy room, a speech therapy room, a space for learning life skills and several standard classrooms.
Early Childhood Schools
According to the Autism Society, early intervention services are key to addressing the developmental needs of children with autism. Instead of waiting until a child is in elementary school, begin his or her education during toddler or preschool years. This can provide lasting benefits when it comes to the ability to communicate, engage in social play and learn in an academic environment. The Applied Behavior Center for Autism in Indianapolis has opened an Early Childhood Center to assist children between the ages of 2 and 6. The facility features group classrooms, instructional therapy rooms, an indoor gym, computers and an outdoor play area.
A grade school education in an autism-focused environment can help children with ASD gain social skills, improve language and communication and tackle more complex academic issues. The Little Star program offered by the Little Star Center caters to children between the ages of 5 and 10 and focuses on individualized therapy services and intense, repetitive learning sessions. The Applied Behavior Center for Autism also provides care for children in grade school. It has three separate locations -- Indianapolis, Richmond and Greenwood -- that provide full-day Monday through Friday care. Students have the opportunity to engage in focused social play periods for 30 minutes each day, have group and individual therapy sessions and receive applied behavioral analysis services.
Schools for Tweens and Teens
The need for specialized education continues as a child grows older. If the child is not ready to transition into a traditional school, you can opt for an educational institution that focuses on autism. The Independence Academy of Indiana in Indianapolis educates students in grades 5 through 12. This autism school has a six to one student-teacher ratio, challenging classes and life skills instruction. If you are looking for a school that focuses on overcoming everyday life challenges, the L.I.F.E. program offered by the Applied Behavior Center for Autism provides vocational learning and teaches independence skills in a full-day program.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.