Question: What types of things can I do outside of school to complement my child's educational plan?
Answer: Complementing the educational plan a child's receiving in school oftentimes takes the form of getting involved in social skills groups or speech therapy outside of school or occupational therapy outside of school. Really, you want to make sure your student, if you're enrolling them in those types of therapies, that they really need that extra support and that they need the extra practice.
Social skills groups can often be very beneficial to kids. You just want to make sure that when you enroll them in one that there are appropriate role models as well. So, does the social skills group have some sort of typical peers involved in it? Is there some way that they're interacting with kids without disabilities? Because if they don't have the appropriate models to learn those social skills, then the social skills group may not be worth your time.
Also, you know, how long does the child have to get to speech therapy? Are you driving an hour and a half or a half-hour to your speech therapy appointment? You want to make sure that these therapies, that they're complementing the school, and they're working on the same things.In any therapy you're doing outside of school, they're talking with the school and talking with the teacher so that things are being consistent because children with autism need that consistency across programs in order for them to learn.
The other thing is you don't want to have your child in therapy 24 hours a day. You want to make sure they have time to be a child as well. And if they want to play outside with neighborhood kids, they can. If they want watch TV for half an hour, they can. You don't want them just in therapy, therapy, therapy, go to school, therapy, therapy, therapy. You want to make sure they have time to be a child.
But the benefits of the outside therapies can be great if, as I said, it's complementing what's going on at school and that everyone is talking together and they're not getting one thing at school and something different at the therapy.