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Article first published as The School Dilemma: When Do You Advance Your Child? on Technorati.


Recently, while my wife was working with my son's teacher in his class, she was asked a question: would we mind if our son was moved up into a more advanced Autism class? The question was asked because of an influx of new students and my son's ability to get bored very quickly when not challenged enough. The only concern would be my son's lack of verbal communication.


The question may seem to have an obvious answer, but it isn't as simple as putting him in a faster-paced classroom. You see, he loves working with the current teacher and aides, one of which lives nearby. There are some classmates he has had since preschool in the same classroom, which gives him a sense of comfort and continuity. And the teacher loves having my wife and I come to help when we can.


But the benefits are pretty exciting. My son is excelling in his academics in the current class and gets bored rather quickly (and the same thing happened in preschool at the end of the year). He would be challenged more in the more advanced class, focusing a lot on his academics that he loves so much. He would be closer to home, taking only about 10 minutes to drive over to the school as opposed to 30 or 40 minutes. He would still be bussed, which is exciting for him as he loves riding the bus to school. It just comes down to whether or not his verbal skills, or lack thereof, would be a problem.


I'm sure every parent has a point where their child's education needs to make change. Some need to worry about their child getting advanced too quickly into grades higher than their age group. Others worry about their children being held back a year to repeat grades for their benefit. Still others worry about getting their children in the "right" schools to reflect better on their potential collegiate careers. Personally, I'll just be happy to see my son grow into the skills he loves so much, and if that means moving him to a closer school that will better challenge him, then all the better.


So, after a lot of thought and discussion, we have decided to let our son advance to the next level in the autism program. He will be with more social and verbal children, which could encourage his verbal development. And, of course, he will be advancing his education at a pace with which he is more comfortable. It's exciting, and places all other debates on education, insurance, and causes of autism in perspective. This is what parenting a child with autism is really about: making those decisions that will better their lives in the future.