Unfortunately, many students with ASD1 fall through the cracks in a traditional classroom. Their different ways of processing information are misunderstood by peers and teachers alike, making them targets for bullying or harsh discipline. These issues, combined with an overstimulating learning environment, make tackling subjects like algebra even harder.
As a parent, it can be difficult to determine if a public school is meeting your child’s unique academic and social-emotional needs. You may wonder if your child would be more successful in a social emotional learning (SEL) school, or an educational institution that helps kids decipher the social world.
To help you navigate this important decision, The Epiphany School has compiled five signs that your child may benefit from an SEL school in Charlotte:
Students with ASD1 tend to have difficulty interpreting the idiomatic phrases, gestures, and facial expressions used by their peers. For this reason, children on the spectrum often find it challenging to feel understood or to nurture meaningful relationships with classmates.
Your child’s current teacher may mention that your son or daughter is falling behind socially. However, your child may also mention sitting alone at lunch or playing by themselves at recess. These are signs that your student is struggling to make friends.
A social emotional learning school can help your child decipher both the “why” and “how” of social behaviors by providing a structured social emotional curriculum. At The Epiphany School, for instance, our daily Friends and Feelings™ class helps students understand empathy or facial expressions through fun, hands-on activities.
As a result, your child will walk away with a better awareness of themselves and others. They’ll know why a peer acts sad after losing a basketball game and how to offer the reassurance that classmate needs.
Unfortunately, children on the spectrum are misunderstood not only by peers but also by teachers. Educators without an extensive background in autism may punish students for behaviors such as:
If you find yourself making frequent trips to your child’s school because of their “disruptiveness” or “inattention,” it’s likely that the teacher is misconstruing autistic behavior as misbehavior.
Educators at a social emotional school still expect appropriate and expected behavior from students. However, rather than simply reprimand the child for an outburst, teachers take the time to talk through what a more appropriate response may look like, offering real-life examples and clear guidelines.
Unlike traditional public schools, which often focus on the problem but don’t offer a solution, The Epiphany School and other SEL schools aim to equip students with the social emotional tools they need to thrive in the real world.
Since many children with autism are hypersensitive to auditory and visual stimuli, the typical classroom is not conducive to learning. Fluorescent lights and wall decorations, for example, can overwhelm students on the spectrum, inducing anxiety and behaviors such as stimming and elopement.
Even if your child has above-average intelligence, they may struggle to focus on tasks or complete assignments when distracted by sensory triggers.
Social emotional learning schools provide a one-of-a-kind learning environment that limits social, emotional, and physical stimuli so that ASD1 students can thrive academically.
At The Epiphany School, for example, our classrooms are designed with sensory sensitivity in mind. By lowering the lights, having organized classrooms, displaying helpful visual cues, and equipping classrooms with lots of seating options, we allow students and teachers to focus on what matters most: learning.
There are many different reasons why students with ASD1 fall through the cracks of a traditional public school system. For example, children on the spectrum may:
SEL schools promote academic excellence by offering differentiated instruction tailored ot each student. At The Epiphany School, we intentionally limit class sizes so that educators can collaborate with students and parents to create individualized learning plans—maps that chart a path toward achieving both academic and social emotional goals.
Because of our small class sizes, we can also offer a more active and vivid learning experience through a project-based curriculum. Rather than sit behind a desk, our students explore algebraic equations and 19th-century literature through hands-on initiatives.
These projects afford a deeper understanding of concepts and allow students to develop executive function skills like reasoning, working memory, and self-control. They also walk away with a greater understanding of what it means to produce high-quality work in a group setting—an important skill for the real world.
Students on the spectrum often feel out of place in a traditional public school classroom. After facing punishment or ridicule for being themselves, they may become even more socially withdrawn and emotionally distant.
Unfortunately, individuals on the spectrum are four times more likely to develop depression than their neurotypical peers. Though manifestations of depressive symptoms vary by age and individual, your child may be struggling with depression if they:
SEL schools are places where students can finally begin to accept themselves without fear of judgment. At The Epiphany School, we don’t seek to change children on the spectrum. Rather, we provide children with the support they need to accept their uniqueness and harness their strengths. We provide a welcoming and nurturing community.
As a social emotional learning school in Charlotte, The Epiphany School provides a safe space where students with ASD1 can embrace their diagnoses and learn to move through the world around them successfully. By offering an individualized and inquiry-based educational experience tailored to the unique needs of children on the spectrum, we help students in grades 3 through 8 acquire the academic and social emotional skills they need to thrive.
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