Preparing for the new school year - Seven questions you should ask when touring a school for a child with autism

July 13, 2020

Touring schools to find which one best suits your child’s needs can seem like a daunting task. What questions should you ask to ensure your child gets the best education they can possibly receive?

Manuel Ramirez

AnswersNow BCBA

Touring schools to find which one best suits your child’s needs can seem like a daunting task. What questions should you ask to ensure your child gets the best education they can possibly receive?

We’re going to provide you with essential questions to ensure you’re making a well-informed decision. You’ll want to make sure you do some general research beforehand too, so that you are going into the tour with some basic knowledge. For example, knowing the school’s total enrollment of students can help narrow down whether or not the school will be a good fit for your child.


Question 1: How well versed is your staff in working with students with autism? About how many students on this campus would you say have autism? 

Don’t be afraid to be upfront with your questions, you have your child to think of and the staff will be thankful for your clear and concise questions. If you’re able to see the teachers in action that have worked with children with autism, even better! You want to see if they’re able to practice patience; you want to see if they’re calm; you want to see how they handle the full room and if they get flustered easily or not. 


Question 2: 

Do you have teacher assistants to provide additional help in the classroom? What is your ratio of student to teacher/teaching assistant?

With your typical public school class averaging 30 students, it's a good question to ask for better insight on how your child can be assisted during classtime. 30 students in a classroom is already an overwhelming task, and it’s of utmost importance that the school prioritizes that every student gets the appropriate amount of time and assistance they need.


Question 3: What is the school’s discipline and safety standards? If my child has frequent episodes regarding loud noise, how would your staff assist with the situation?

You definitely want to see if the school is in line with your beliefs and comforts of how your child can be helped. You also want to be sure they have safety protocols that they adhere to. In the event the person running your tour is hesitant answering this question, it might not be a good sign. 


Question 4: If my child has an IEP, who would be working with them? May I meet them?

As we previously talked about, the teacher’s assistant could potentially be the one that helps your child with their learning plan the most. Either way, if given the opportunity it doesn’t hurt to ask if you’re able to meet that person. Once again, scope out how they interact with others, specifically those around the age of your child. 


Question 5: Does the school offer additional help to students such as tutoring? Is there a ratio for this attention, if they do? Are there any other resources or groups offered on campus? 

The large class count may make it difficult for your child to fully comprehend what’s being taught in class. See if the school offers extra resources for after school such as tutoring - that way your child is given a more intimate learning setting to grasp the concept of what they’re learning. See if there are other groups or perhaps even a club where your child can meet others and build friendships. This will go a long way with the coping process of attending school with large enrollment. 


Question 6: Is there a computer room, art/music room, or science room?

Know what your child loves, and see if they have that available at the school. Ask if you’re able to get a tour of that part of the campus too. You can check the facility - to see how involved other students are to determine the quality of the program, and to see if your child would even like the atmosphere created within whatever program it is. You could even try to go an extra step to see if they’ll let your child interact with those in the program and see how they feel.   


Question 7: How does the school communicate the problems, upcoming events, and progress on your child’s learning?

One of the most important questions to ask is how the school communicates with the parents and students. If there is an upcoming event happening, how will they deliver this info? How will the teacher communicate how your child is doing in classes? How will the teacher communicate if your child is having trouble in class or if there are any problems? Communication will be a pivotal role in your child’s education development and having the school as well as yourself involved will only benefit your child. 


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