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One of the parents’ most significant ongoing struggles is finding affordable and safe care for their young children. This can be a time-consuming and stressful endeavor. The odds of success are even slimmer for parents of a child with Autism. The search for appropriate care, especially for children with disabilities, can sometimes seem daunting, if not impossible. That’s where Circle Care Services can help. We understand your struggle and can help you answer many questions, including, “is there an Autism daycare near me?”
Daycare v.s. Preschool: What’s the Difference?
Daycare is offered to children from birth to age 3. It is usually full-time child care. Some part-time childcare schedules are offered depending on the institution.
Comparatively, preschool is designed for children between 3 and 5 years old. It usually adheres to a traditional school schedule emphasizing kindergarten preparedness.
For the simplicity of this article, the term daycare is being used as an umbrella term to include all childcare for children ages five or younger.
Can my child with autism attend daycare?
Similar to most factors within the field of autism, it depends on your child’s needs. Yes, children with autism can do very well in daycare, provided their needs are met. There are several important factors when considering which daycare is a good fit.
1. How Much Assistance Does My Child Need?
Before choosing which daycare would be most appropriate for your child with autism, you need to be clear about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Answering questions such as
- “How independent are they?”
- “How do they handle large groups of kids?”
- “What are my safety concerns?” will help narrow the type of daycare facility most suitable for your child.
Check with your child’s pediatrician and other specialists. It is also constructive to look at a list of skills that a daycare requires for a child’s age. Then make notes about how your child does in these areas.
2. What are my daycare options?
Your neighbor’s children may attend the daycare down the street, but that’s not the only option. Ask around, get online, and do some research. Take a good look at community daycares, Montessori schools, and school districts with special education programs. Call them, tour their facilities, and ask questions. Look around for resources for parents of children with autism, and find out where you can get help. The more information you have, the more informed you’ll be able to make a decision.
How to find a daycare for a child with Autism?
Step One: Determine the type of childcare you need.
If you and your partner work full-time, you’ll most likely need a specially-trained daycare to work with kids on the spectrum. Consider the age of your child. Do you need a daycare geared towards toddlers or a preschool program? These are important distinctions.
If you’re looking for help to take a mental health break, then maybe a daycare that allows you to drop off your child for a few hours several times a week is what you’re after. You may only need a few hours of respite, and daycare with a more flexible schedule that meets those needs would be perfect.
Each family will have different childcare requirements. Make sure you’ve identified them before you start your search. Contact your local community services.
If you belong to a local autism support group or a patient advocacy organization, they should be excellent sources of information regarding autism daycare in New Jersey. Contact them and ask if they’ve got any resources or recommendations for autism daycare in your area. If they can’t provide you with a good set of names, they should be able to point you in the right direction for childcare resources.
Step Two: Interview and tour potential daycares.
Once you’ve got a shortlist of daycares in New Jersey, you must tour the locations and interview the staff. You may even want to see your child interact with their potential caregivers before you sign on the dotted line. The more transparent the daycare is about the type of childcare they provide, the more informed a choice you’ll be able to make.
What are the best types of daycare for children with autism?
Small class sizes
The smaller the class size, the more likely your child will feel safe and secure. The fewer students there are, the less socially intimidating the situation will be for your child with Autism.
Unstructured and Montessori-like play is prevalent in daycares in New Jersey and around the country. Though that is very helpful for many children, it’s not conducive for children with Autism, who often fare better with structured play. Look for a daycare that offers a structured schedule, provides specific instructions for children, and has long transition periods (i.e., from play to snack time). You can request a copy of the child’s schedule or an outline of what a typical day might look like at the daycare. If the daycare is too unstructured, this might prove to be difficult for you to adjust to.
All children need an area in a classroom where they can be quiet. This is especially true for children with autism. Whether a bean bag chair or a mat, your son or daughter may need to seek out that quiet space when emotionally overwhelmed. You may want to enroll your child elsewhere if you don’t see an area like that in the daycare classroom.
An all-inclusive classroom
The advantage of an all-inclusive classroom approach is that children with autism can practice their social skills in a traditional classroom setting. Often children with autism have difficulty connecting with their peers, saying inappropriate things, or not speaking. Traditionally, they were placed in a group with other special-need children. Instead, by creating an all-inclusive classroom, children with autism can actively observe and practice their social skills regularly.
A daycare that offers support services.
This is the ultimate. You’ve found a rare gem if you can find a daycare that cares for children with developmental disabilities. The reality is that there are a limited number of traditional daycare providers, let alone specialized education-based programs. Yet some traditional daycares can offer speech therapy, intervention programs, or programs that focus on gross motor skill development for additional costs.
What does daycare cost?
A typical private daycare can accommodate six to twelve children with one or two adults to manage a daily routine for the children. This includes handling their personal, nutritional, and behavioral needs. The average cost is approximately $243 per week.
Depending on your child and the severity of their autism, this might be an ideal setting for them if there’s a reliable and predictable schedule they can acclimate to.
What if I can’t find the right Autism daycare near me?
Parents raising a child with autism are all too familiar with seeing a daycare that promises a long list of fantastic benefits, only to get a call later saying the staff does not have the time or resources to support your child’s needs.
There are options. Consider staying home if it is financially feasible. Sit down with your spouse and look over your budget. Invariably you might find that you’re saving money by staying home with your child.
Additionally, some state programs supplement your income as the “caregiver” of your child with disabilities.
ABA therapy tends to be more affordable for families and is often the best solution. Another option is to look into ABA services that provide social skills groups or centers that provide direct autism supervision. ABA therapists are trained to work with children with autism and help them navigate all aspects of life.
How can Circle Care services help parents in New Jersey?
Circle Care services in New Jersey has a Kids Club that provides excellent, professional care designed to teach and care for children with autism. Circle Care Kids Club provides one-on-one care while offering speech therapy, functional life skills, social skills, and self-management. Using ABA therapy, staff will help your child to increase positive behaviors that are helpful and reduce or eliminate problematic ones.
We provide teacher and parenting training to help everyone who cares for your child to be a part of their social and academic development. Parents must understand they, too, play a role in their child’s ABA therapy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about finding a good ABA therapist, we offer information on how to find the right ABA provider in your area.
Circle Care can also offer early intervention services in the classroom. Or BCBAs carefully evaluate each child and create achievable goals that our staff can implement, your child’s teachers, and caregivers. Early intervention is often the best way to approach behavior and developmental struggles in children, so get started talking to a therapist today!
Can a daycare kick out my child with Autism?
Every daycare has policies that should be clearly explained in writing when registering your child. They have a legal right to ask a family to find alternative arrangements for their child if they don’t feel equipped to care for that particular child.
Consider it a blessing if a daycare asks you to find another provider for your child. Why would you or any other parent want to fight to keep a child in a setting that cannot meet their unique needs? Remember, leaving a child in an environment likely to ignore or exclude the child can harm that child’s development.
Circle Care can help!
Circle Care is here to help New Jersey families choose the right childcare for those who have children with autism. From determining if daycare is suitable for your child to what type of care your child needs and the cost of that care, we’re available to answer your questions. We also offer free consultations. You don’t have to do it alone. Circle Care provides services to make it easier for your family. Sign up for our free informative newsletter, or contact us directly.
Parents of any child know the struggle of finding a trustworthy person or daycare setting that will not only be affordable but can also provide peace of mind during the day while working. This is difficult for any parent of any child- but for the parents of a child with autism, the search for an appropriate setting can seem like an impossibility.
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