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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.
Daycare and Autism: The Cost
A typical, private daycare can accommodate six to twelve children with one or two adults to manage a daily routine for the children with all of their personal, nutritional, and behavioral needs. The average cost of a private daycare is approximately $243 per week.
But is that the only cost? What about the emotional cost?
Depending on your child and the severity of their autism (and you know best), this might be a good setting for them if there is a reliable and predictable schedule that they can acclimate to.
It might be a wonderful opportunity for your child with autism if the other children are empathetic and well behaved. Your child may learn from other children who are modeling good behaviors.
However, the reality of this situation is that even on a seemingly perfect day, it is impossible to monitor every behavior and every word from every child in the daycare setting. Inevitably, there will be plenty of times when your child experiences exclusion from a group, another child taking something away, name calling, hitting, pushing, or belittling. Correcting harmful words or actions every time that they occur is not realistic for two or even three adults who are monitoring twelve children.
While this might work for most typical children who learn and adjust to these types of social challenges from their peers, a child with autism does not see and feel these challenges in social settings in quite the same way. A child with autism has additional needs that require a caregiver who is familiar with autism and is equipped to handle the expected and the unexpected behaviors that come from the child.
The importance of finding the right place to care for your child with autism
The most important reason for finding the right situation for your child with autism is that you, as a parent, need to feel at ease in order to function while your child is at daycare.
Parents who are raising a child (or children) with autism are all too familiar with finding a preschool or daycare that promises a long, flowery list of wonderful benefits for your child only to get that phone call two weeks later from the director explaining why the staff does not have the time or the resources to support your child’s extreme needs.
Unfortunately, unless the staff is specifically trained to closely monitor and assist children with developmental delays, they are absolutely correct by saying that they do not have the time or the resources to help your child.
- Children with autism need hyper vigilance from supervising adults to keep them safe. Any lapse in supervision can result in a child escaping the area they are supposed to be in, or even the building! If there is any room for aggression, someone could get hurt, or the child may hurt themselves.
- The early years of development are the most crucial time for learning language and speech skills. The years between 0 and 5 provide a window of opportunity to bring out the best communication skills for a child with autism. If they are placed in a typical daycare setting, and they do not receive enough instruction and correction in communication from an adult, their speech and communication may suffer.
- Social skills are more easily taught in the early developmental years. Most children with autism cannot be expected to exercise their own initiative with other children to introduce themselves and instigate play. Children with autism need encouragement and guidance to learn social skills.
- Children with autism often require time consuming assistance with arts and crafts projects, physical play, feeding themselves, toileting, and settling their anxieties to sit calmly for reading, watching a video, or taking a nap.
If your child with autism is in a typical daycare, it is likely that these needs are going unmet. The amount of care and supervision for a child with autism takes one child to one adult attention, and no more than two children to one adult to assure your child’s safety and provide the best outcome for your child’s learning.
Can a daycare kick an autistic child out?
Every daycare has their own set of policies that should be clearly explained in writing when you register your child for daycare. Each daycare has a legal right to ask a family to find alternative arrangements for a child if they do not feel equipped to care for that particular child.
If a daycare asks you to find another provider, consider this a blessing. Why would you, or any other parent, want to fight to keep a child in a setting that does not want to work with their special needs? Leaving a child with special needs in an environment that is likely to ignore or exclude the child can be harmful to that child’s development.
The concern over whether a daycare can ask your child to leave should be secondary to the importance of knowing that your child is in the appropriate setting for their needs.
A child with autism needs direct autism attention from qualified providers. Period.
If you have access to a daycare that specializes in caring for children with developmental disabilities, you have found a rare gem.
The reality is that there are a limited number of even typical daycare providers. Daycare providers for special needs can be a tall order.
However, there are some options. Consider staying home if it is financially feasible. Sit down with your spouse and look over your budget. You might actually save money by staying home with your child. In addition to that, there are some state programs that actually supplement your income as the “caregiver” of your child with special needs.
Another option is to look into ABA services that provide social skills groups or centers that provide direct autism attention. ABA therapy can be affordable for some families, and is often the best option.
Circle Care Services in New Jersey has a Kids Club that provides excellent, professional care that is specifically designed to teach and care for children with autism. Circle Care Kids Club provides one to one care while providing instruction in social skills, speech and communication, functional life skills, and self management. Using applied behavior analysis, the staff will help your child to increase positive behaviors that are helpful and reduce or eliminate problematic behaviors.
Circle Care also provides early intervention services in the classroom. Our BCBAs carefully evaluate each individual and create achievable goals that can be implemented by our staff, your child’s teachers, and caregivers. We provide teacher and parent training to help everyone who cares for your child to be a part of your child’s overall development including his/her social interactions and even his/her academic performance.
At Circle Care, we want to help New Jersey families. We are always available to answer your questions, and even offer free consultations. You don’t have to do it alone – Circle Care offers services to make it easier for your family. Call us today to get your consultation and get all your questions answered.