Deciding whether or not to send your child to an Aspergers boarding school is difficult. Boarding schools that specialize in teaching children with Aspergers syndrome and autism can offer some beneficial therapy in addition to educational and life skills training opportunities. Learn about boarding school programs for students with Aspergers and how to decide if boarding school is right for your child.
Reasons to Consider Boarding School
Boarding schools that specialize in teaching students with Aspergers provide some unique therapy and educational opportunities that may not be available in many areas. Families of children with Aspergers may choose boarding school for reasons such as the following:
- Special therapy and educational programs only available at the boarding school
- Preparation for college life
- Independent living training
- Opportunity to study with a particular therapist or teacher at a school
Boarding school has many valuable programs that can prepare many children and teenagers with AS for higher education and jobs. Temple Grandin, a famous college professor who has autism, studied at a boarding school before entering college.
About Aspergers Boarding Schools
Boarding school can help many children and teenagers with Aspergers prepare for life in the larger world. Graduates of boarding schools may go on to find immediate employment or enroll in a university.
Types of Boarding Schools
There are therapeutic boarding schools that specialize in Aspergers and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and traditional boarding schools that have ASD programs for children in elementary grades through high school. Therapeutic boarding schools combine traditional boarding school education with therapies to help children and teenagers in crisis or with special needs. Some parents feel that traditional boarding schools with ASD programs encourage stronger social and communication skills between students with Aspergers and neurotypical than special education settings.
Both types of boarding school can prepare children for interacting with people and situations in the larger world. Parents generally pick between traditional or therapeutic boarding schools based on the school program and their child's specific needs.
Leading Boarding Schools for AS Students
A number of boarding schools across the country offer excellent learning opportunities for students with Aspergers. Leading boarding schools with Aspergers programs include:
- Hampshire Country School: The Hampshire Country School is a school for gifted boys between the ages of 8 and 13 who have trouble with social interaction and communication and require more personalized attention from teachers in a small school setting. Located in Rindge, New Hampshire, The school offers a family setting in a rural environment. While the school is not an ASD specialty school, it does focus on helping boys who have trouble learning and interacting in traditional academic settings. The school has programs for working with Aspergers students. Formerly a co-educational school, this is the boarding school that Temple Grandin attended during its coed years.
- New Leaf Academy: The New Leaf Academy of Oregon and the New Leaf Academy of North Carolina are therapeutic boarding schools for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 who need extra guidance with social and communication skills as well as appropriate emotional and behavioral responses. The school works with both girls experiencing behavioral crisis and girls with conditions such as Aspergers. New Leaf Academy offers a program called Star Steps, a personal development program based on the teachings of Dr. Erik Erikson, which focuses on providing individual attention to girls to help them New Leaf Academy of Oregon is located in Bend, Oregon. New Leaf Academy of North Carolina is located in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The New Leaf schools are a part of the Aspen Education Group.
- Little Keswick School: Keswick is a therapeutic boarding school in Keswick, Virginia for boys between the ages of 10 and 17 that specializes in Aspergers and conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. The school focuses on both strong academics and improving social skills and emotional expression.
- Devereux Glenhome School: Glenhome is a coed therapeutic boarding school for children between the ages 10 and 18 located in Washington, Connecticut. Glenhome offers a college preparatory program and individualized programs for students with Aspergers and other conditions such as ADHD.
- The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School: Affiliated with the University of Chicago, the Shankman school is a Chicago-based coed therapeutic boarding school for children and teenagers with Aspergers, learning disabilities, mental challenges, emotional problems and special needs. The residential treatment program models its program after the philosophy of the word orthogenic, which means to grow straight and grow tall. The school combines education with individual and group therapies to give students preparation for higher education, work and daily life.
Is Boarding School Right for Your Child?
If you are considering an Aspergers boarding school, consider your child's current needs. Ask yourself if you are happy with the treatment options available locally. Talk to your child's doctor, teachers and therapists to find out if they recommend boarding school for your child. They may also be able to provide you with a list of recommended schools.
Research boarding school to find out available programs and costs. You can find a list of boarding schools at sites like Boarding Schools Directory, which has a comprehensive list of boarding schools all over the world. Boarding school is expensive but some schools provide scholarships.
Some parents also consider relocating near a top Aspergers school such as Heartspring in Kansas, so that their child can live at home while attending school. In some cases, relocating may be more affordable than boarding school.
Realize that boarding school will require living apart from your child for a period of time. For this reason, many parents choose relocation or local treatment options over boarding school. However, some children may thrive in boarding school. Most schools offer ways for parents to be actively involved in their child's treatment. Even in boarding school, you can maintain close ties with your child.