Here is some advice for parents of teens attending high schools written by Stephanie Loo, our Director of Teen Services:
Schedule regular monthly educational team meetings to monitor your teen’s progress, to ensure that the IEP is being faithfully carried out, and to modify it if necessary. Because teens can be so volatile or fragile, and because so many important things must be accomplished in four short years of high school, these meetings are critical. (See AANE article “Some Accommodations for Students with AS.”) If a teen is doing very well, the team can agree to skip a month—but be sure to reconvene to plan the transition to the following year.
Some teens adjust o.k. to middle/high school with appropriate supports and accommodations, Others, however, just cannot handle a large, impersonal high school. You may need to hire an advocate or lawyer to negotiate with your school system to pay for an alternative school placement, tuition, and transportation.
See the AANE school list in the teen information packet. There are no easy answers to finding the mix of conditions where our kids can survive or even thrive; pick the best possible realistic choice, and help your teen adjust. Call AANE if you would like to discuss options. Some families hire educational placement services.
If you can afford it, you may prefer to pay private school tuition rather than paying a lawyer to negotiate with a financially strapped or resistant school system. Some families move to a community with a better high school.
Residential schools may be worth considering for some. The right fit can build tremendous confidence for the teen, give the parents a break, and prepare everyone for the independence of the post high school years.