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Making Schools More Autism Friendly

  • Published: 2015-01-24 (Revised/Updated 2017-11-17) : DrSocial ltd (+39 3355897363).
  • Synopsis: With increased number of families impacted by autism it is important to integrate a sensory friendly environment for autistic children.

Main Document

Quote: "These findings are even more compelling when you recognize that federal guarantees for special education services date back more than three decades."

One in 68 children are thought to have autism spectrum disorder, according to 2014 statistics by the Centers for Disease Control ( The disorder varies widely in severity, but one common trait is the tendency to get overstimulated by noise, lights, and other trappings of modern life.

Sensory-friendly events have become more common nationwide:

Theaters now offer sensory-friendly film screenings; cafes host quiet hours. But public schools are struggling to keep up with the growing number of students with autism.

Some of those kids have strong sensitivities - school bells hurt their ears, crowded hallways are overwhelming, others struggle with abstract language. For them, making friends is always a challenge.

Tuition at private schools for autism can cost as much as $100,000 per child, per year, cited in an article published December last year in Portland Press Herald (,while small changes in an existing school system can reap huge savings.

Here are few ideas for making autism-friendly schools:

According to an online survey published on the 1st of April, 2011 by Autism Speaks (, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, from all families generally unhappy with supports in their community, an incredible 83% described just how hard it was to access educational services. Families told of needing to find specialized experts to best place their child, needing to change schools or districts, or having to resort to expensive legal action.

"These findings are even more compelling when you recognize that federal guarantees for special education services date back more than three decades," said Gary Mayerson, founding attorney of Mayerson & Associates, a law firm that represents and advocates for children and adolescents diagnosed with autism. "Since 1975, children with disabilities have been guaranteed equal protection to secure appropriate and effective educational programs despite their disabilities. To find this level of disservice and the need to fight to secure what Congress clearly intended as an entitlement is incredibly troubling, but unfortunately not surprising."

On January 25, 2013 a new breaking ground came in from the U.S. Department of Education, published by the New Jersey News (, stating that schools must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options. Schools would be required to make "reasonable modifications" for students with disabilities or create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing as mainstream programs. Barring kids from participation would violate their civil rights. Schools must either provide modified versions of existing activities or create "separate but equal" clubs and athletics.

It would take time, flexibility and coordination until a better school environment for autistic children is achieved, but if those models are followed, a greater change would also follow.

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1 - Parents and Siblings Can be Teachers for Special Needs Kids - Michigan State University.
2 - STEM3 Academy Opens Campuses for Students with Special Needs - The Help Group.
3 - Children with Disability and Public Schools Supreme Court Case - National Constitution Center.
4 - Stephen Gaynor School Shares Benefits of Performing Arts Education for Students With Learning Differences - Stephen Gaynor School.
5 - Language-Based Learning in Children - Unlocking Clues - University of Missouri-Columbia.
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