3 Steps To Helping Your Child With ASD Adjust To A Montessori Program

Selecting a daycare center or school for a child can be a difficult task for any parent. You may wonder if your child is ready and how they will adjust to a formal learning environment. These questions can become more prevalent if your child is on the autism spectrum. One type of school parents of children with ASD should consider is a Montessori school. The Montessori method naturally stimulates children with varying skills and abilities. However, before you enroll your child, you should consider these three steps to help them smoothly adjust to their new learning environment. 

Make Sure Your Child Has Developed Critical Learning Skills At Home 

Montessori daycare centers and schools are primarily educational environments. This means that the children attending them are learning and practicing various skills. Which skills the children learn and practice varies based on what skills and interests each specific child currently possesses. However, a child who does not posses the ability to learn will fail to thrive, even at specialized Montessori centers. 

Before a child with ASD attends a Montessori school, they should have what are known as critical or pivotal skills. These skills include being able to make eye contact, pay attention, imitate others, and follow simple instructions. If your child has not yet achieved these skills, one-on-one therapy in a familiar setting would be more beneficial than a group environment. 

Invest In Montessori Tools For Your Home 

Many children with ASD find familiar objects and routines comforting. If your home routine is similar to your child's school routine, they will be able to continually practice basic skills while expanding their more advanced skills. The Montessori method is easily adapted to the home environment and you can set up your home in a Montessori style with a few critical changes such as providing access to toys and games on low shelves.

You may want to visit a potential Montessori school in your area to see exactly which toys and learning tools they utilize. You can purchase a few of these tools for use in your home. A behavioral therapist who is trained in the Montessori method can work with your child one-on-one with these tools at home to prepare your child for the classroom. Once your child is active in the Montessori classroom, these tools can be a valuable resource to expand your own communication and interaction with your child.  

​Select a Montessori School that Accommodates Special Needs 

Several of the basic components used in the Montessori method naturally work well for children with ASD. Prepared spaces, purposeful experiences, and primary activities are things that all children, including children with ASD, naturally seek. This is why the Montessori method can be adapted for use by a variety of children with different personalities and abilities. However, if you select a school that has experience educating children with special needs or specifically working with children with ASD, it is more likely that your child will be successful and happy at their school. 

Specialized schools may provide special, smaller classes for children with ASD, a path to integration in larger classrooms, one-on-one assistance to children with ASD, and access to trained behavioral therapists that not every Montessori school offers. While the Montessori method is adaptable to children with ASD, it is important that your child's teacher and assistants have experience working with children with ASD. Also, a Montessori school that specializes with children who have special needs can provide an important support network for you and your child as your child grows. 

Learning is a constant process for all children. If your child struggles in school, be sure to discuss your concerns with their teacher and be prepared to supplement their education with one-on-one sessions with a professional.