Trying to find a therapeutic preschool for a child with autism can be a stressful task. A parent wants to make sure that not only is the program a fit for their child, but their child is also receiving the services they need. Because this process can be rather intimidating and tedious, here are a couple of options of where to start!
Know what’s available
If you’re not quite sure if there are any therapeutic programs around you, contact your pediatrician, your child’s current therapist, or friends who currently have their children in a therapeutic preschool. All of these resources should have a good idea of what’s available. However, when looking into therapeutic preschools, don’t just rely on people’s advice. It is good to establish your own research on schools around you. Look at the criteria for each school and what other services are available for your child.
Visit where you are interested
Once you have gathered research for each school that is of interest to you, start scheduling appointments to see the school. Sometimes, you and your child can even schedule a “practice” day, where your child can participate in the classroom as you watch. This is a great experience because you can see how your child interacts with potential classmates and the staff in the room. When taking a tour of the school, there are a few things to consider as you observe. First, ask about class size and the ratio of teachers to children. It is generally best if the class size is smaller so your child can receive services in a more intimate group setting, but still gets to interact with their classmates. This reason also applies to the ratio. Another great question to ask is how their curriculum will help your child meet not only their specific goals but also their development. These can include concepts like social play, control of emotions, language skills, familiarity with numbers and letters, science, art, and physical development.
During your visit, you should also look at the structure of the classroom. Look for available visual schedules, different activities, and transitions throughout your time there. Other things to consider are if the children are learning self-help skills or if they are learning to play with each other. You can also observe how the teachers and other staff interact with the children.
Ultimately, the decision should be based on what therapeutic preschool you think your child will have the most success. If you have a feeling that you or your child would be uncomfortable in a specific preschool program, immediately take it off of your list. It is very important that you like the program itself, but it is critical that you and your child feel comfortable within the facility, classroom, and staff.
If you are looking for a therapeutic preschool in the chicago area, click the purple button below or contact CST Academy at 773-620-7800 to learn more about the wide range of services we offer for children. We offer ABA therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.