Can YOU interview Elementary, Middle, and High Schools???
Whenever you change schools, it could possibly wreak havoc on your child. Especially if they are on the Autism Spectrum. Change is difficult for typical people, so you can imagine how it can send kids with Autism over the edge. When we moved it took a good 8 months to get our son “back.”
Let’s make it easier for our kiddos in our new homes and schools.
So, what do you ask potential schools? How do you know what to ask???
I went to the experts in the field. The Parents. Questions they have either asked or wished they had asked when they moved. These parents are beyond awesome, they are my go-to moms and dads.
Top Questions to Ask Schools When You have a Child on the Autism Spectrum…
What activities do you offer kids on the Autism Spectrum? If my child is placed in a self-contained setting, will they still receive all the specials, such as music, art, library, PE?
What programs do you have in place for kids on the Autism Spectrum? Sensory Rooms? Play-based Lego therapy?
How many students have one-to-one aides?
How hard is it going to be to get my son’s IEP implemented with an one-to-one aide?
What is the procedure for me to observe my child in her school setting?
Do you have certified nurse at school? (When my son had seizures a certified nurse needed to be at the public school.)
What type of alternative assessments do you have in place for state testing? What is the process?
Is it important to the district to mainstream kids in their HOME school? (It’s not true mainstreaming, if all of the kids with a certain disability attend inclusion classes, but only in certain schools within the district. It is also not true mainstreaming if all the kids with special needs are placed in one class, per grade level, with a handful of neuro-typical kids.)
How many mainstreamed kids on the spectrum have a one-to-one paras working with them most or all of the day?
What is the teacher ratio for special needs students in inclusion as well as self contained rooms? (The standard rule is 30%)
What kind of community based instruction do you have in place?
Is there an aide on the bus for my son during his transportation?
Speech, Occupational, Physical Therapy Questions (Supplemental Services)
How many kids are typically in speech therapy sessions at a time? (The “small group” ST is often compsed of 6 or more kids.)
Do they have therapists on staff (in the school), or are they contracted? (It makes a difference in continuity of services. My son’s OT & ST changes about 3 or 4 times every year. Very frustrating.)
How many schools do the Speech Therapist and Occupational Therapist serve? (Most have several schools!!)
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA Therapy), Bullying Prevention, and Behavioral Training
Please give me examples on how you train your staff on ABA? How is it implemented? How often is the staff trained? (It is important that the teachers and paras have a good understanding of common ABA principles. Also, that they are receiving ongoing training in ABA- based classroom strategies, and that the SPEd Dept. is encouraged or required to attend professional development in this area. Surprisingly they were doing this in Portsmouth. With young children on the spectrum, it’s pretty indispensable for teachers who work with kids who have autism to understand and use ABA techniques. Also it is important for teachers of older kids with communication and behavioral challenges. I knew they weren’t going to provide one-to-one ABA therapy; but it was important to me that they understood the way that things worked in our home and in my son’s private therapy, outside of school.)
How do you train the staff (ALL THE STAFF) regarding kids with special needs being bullied? What are the signs of a child on the spectrum being bullied?
Tell me about Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (State-wide initiative). How are you implementing PBIS?
How do you support students with social and emotional needs? Do you have a Behavioral Intervention Specialist? How do you implement a Behavioral Intervention Plan?
How do you handle Sensory Issues? What preventative measures do you have in place? Sensory Room? Sensory Box? Weighted Blankets?
Is your staff trained to use augmentative communication devices and picture exchange systems, especially speech personnel? iPads?
In Home Coordination
Please give me examples of how your staff coordinates with home behavioral therapists and examples of parental support in the classrooms. (Make sure you ask it in an open ended manner so they have to really tell you what they do, not just give you a generic “yes” as an answer. There are huge issues here in Richmond. It was like prying teeth trying to get the schools to allow observations of my son. The General Ed population has room mothers, PTA and parents are always welcome in the classroom. Not so for a self- contained Autism program.)
Some of these questions might be hard to ask, even a little intimidating. But, I spoke to a Special Education Department Chair and she said she could answer all of these questions without a problem. Just pick the ones that are relevant to you and your child.
Need support now?
Join Spectrum Parents – an online local group that I started a couple years back. It has grown to over 1200 parents with kids on the Autism Spectrum. They are my go-to moms and dads.
Our son on the autism spectrum was traumatized when we moved.
He was about 3.5 – 4 years old and we decided to take the plunge so our kids could attend Kempsville Elementary School – a school that would serve both our boys better. Their old school could not accommodate my oldest with ADHD, so how could they possibly help my youngest? Nope, Virginia Beach Schools are not created equal. So, we sold our house in Larkspur and bought in Bellamy Manor. The pickings were slim, so we snatched it up the first day it hit the market.
For our youngest son, the change was too great. We simply did not know moving would make him regress that much. We were just learning about Autism. To me, he was just my baby. After the move though, we had to get our PhD’s in Autism. To pull him back out, we did ABA Therapy, Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet, and some Biomedical Treatments. Hands down, B12 shots are what helped the most.
I believe, he would have needed treatment regardless of the move, just not to that extent.
If we had prepped better, our son would not have been thrown into such a different world. It took him 6-8 months to adjust. I am writing this to make this transition easier on other families with kids on the spectrum.
In our old house he had a farm scene painted in his bedroom. It was adorable.
We did not paint his room the same. He moved into a white room without the farm scene. I am shaking my head right now wondering what we were thinking. We should have painted the farm scene and arranged his room the same way.
When you are moving, think about your current home. What is the layout? Where do they hang out? Can you arrange the family room the same? His or her bedroom the same?
Then, we had the floors refinished.
The people before us rescued dogs -there were 12 living in the home before we bought it! Yes, TWELVE. So, naturally we wanted to re-do the floors. We did not know this at the time, but our son has a huge sensitivity to smell. So strong, that he used to eat the soap-less hand sanitizer. You know, the 99% alcohol based stuff??? He loved the smell. So, needless to say, the fumes from the floors did not help him either.
Don’t refinish the floors and move in with any kind of smell lingering. Same goes for painting. We had the whole house painted. Can you imagine?
Another thing we could have done was brought him by the house more.
We bought while the market was still a little crazy. We got to see the house once – on their time, not ours – when we first looked at it, then during the home inspection, and then at the final walk-through. So, he only saw it ONCE, during the home inspection.
Prep, prep, prep. Let the seller’s know you have a child on the spectrum and you need to bring them by as often as possible. Have your agent arrange the times.
Take tons of pictures of the house. Take pictures of you and them in the house- smiling, having fun.
Better yet, take a video from several different entries. Take it from the front door to their bathroom, bedroom, your room. Take it from the garage door, explore the kitchen. Show them where their food will be – for some of our kids, food is their world.
If they like to draw or just to take it another step, have them draw out the floor plan on paper or on their iPad.
If you have any other ideas, suggestions, please share.
- Tidewater Autism Society
- Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
- Spectrum Parents Facebook Support Group
- Spectrum Parents Meet Up Group
- Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater
- Local Autism Doctor - Dr. Eric Madren
- KelsKids - Teaching ALL Kids How to Swim
- Inside Out Learners - Social Skills
- Social Butterflies, Social Skills +++
Play. Socialize. Laugh.
There is nothing more than wanting your child to have friends. When I started Spectrum, Connor was 6 so we were very active in the community. In the last seven years, I have watched our group evolve. Now, we have a mix of kids from toddlers to college students and beyond.
Some groups focus on younger kids, while others focus on tweens and teens, and some focus on the parents too. In Spectrum Parents, I focus on both kids and parents. AND, I am thoroughly enjoying myself! So far we have gone Paddle Boarding, Beach Night, Ariel Yoga, Yoga, Park Days, Trampoline Park Meet-ups, Surfing, and Girls Night Out :) Join US!
Searching for Your New Home
Some common buyer questions....
Are the schools good AND do I like the neighborhood?
Also, is there anything upfront telling us it might be hard to re-sell this home later, like...high tension wires, rail road tracks or commercial surrounding the neighborhood?
1. First drive the neighborhoods and check it out. Is it somewhere you want to live for 5-10 years? Drive it during the day and at night. Is the neighborhood well maintained? Are there high tension wires, rail road tracks or commercial buildings right behind the house?
2. Also, make sure you are okay with the schools.
3. Check crime stats as well:
Check the convicted sex offenders registry. Remember, these are convicted sex offenders - we all have people around us that are not convicted.
Want to see the neighborhood virtually? Click below:
A Million and One THANKS to OUR MILITARY
Oh, how I loved moving as a kid. Getting to re-invent myself every 2-3 years…and create fresh clean slate. California was my favorite state, by far. The beaches, the WAVES, the never-ending sunshine, the canyons, camping, not to mention the mountains & snow….
Got Orders? We've given back over $50,000 to homebuyers and sellers who are Military, Retired Military, Wounded Warriors and D.O.D. Personally, we moved every 2.5 years like clockwork and retired locally here in Hampton Roads 30+ years ago.
This year alone, we’ve given 25k to our buyers and sellers.
A little bit about us....
I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister…I am a photographer, advocate, Realtor, Founder of Spectrum Parents, former special education teacher and social worker. We have two sons with special needs. One has ADHD with anxiety and my youngest is diagnosed with Autism. We tried everything under the sun to get my youngest back when he had a hard time adjusting: ABA, diet changes, B12 Shots, IEP and so on. ABA and B12 shots are the two things that worked. Giving back to families with kids on the Autism Spectrum Parents is my passion. You do not need to be alone on this journey.
Helping first time buyers, families with kids on the spectrum and military families move is why I became a Realtor with my mom, Pam. She started in Real Estate in 1984 when interest rates were crazy high - 14%. When that phone rang, you could not hear a pin drop. That's because our house phone was her primary source of communication. She taught me her core values - you come first. PERIOD. Being a military brat, we have lived in so many cool places. And, we've packed and unpacked more times than we care to remember. We finally retired here in 1983.
We LOVE helping people buy and sell homes – AND – we LOVE working together! I bring the energy, innovative ideas and my mom, Pam brings over 33 years of experience! Together we have over 43 years. We use all the high tech toys and the tried and true.
Locally – we are completely immersed in the Autism Community: Founder of Spectrum Parents Support Group and Meetup, Volunteer Photographer of Polar Plunge, Surfer’s Healing, Tidewater Autism Society 5k and other events, Kempsville Elementary Disability Awareness Events, Lee’s Lil’ Shorebreakers, P.O.W.E.R. New Power Running Group, and many more.
Know someone thinking about moving? Send them our way & get up to $250 to donate to your local charity.Call for details: 757-724-1064
Suzi Toth Noyes, REALTOR® M.S.Ed: 757-724-1064
Pam Toth, REALTOR® ABR, CRS, GRI: 757-724-8499
Howard Hanna Real Estate
4598 Broad St Virginia Beach VA 23462
Licensed in Virginia, Equal Housing Opportunity
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