Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Choose a Daycare For a Child With Autism.

I consider myself an expert on selecting a daycare for a child with Autism. Specifically because Max, who is turning 4 years old in one short month, is now entering his fourth daycare in three years. Hmmm...perhaps what I am actually an expert in is how not to pick a daycare for a child with Autism. If you are interested in the background on Max's daycare saga, I have written about our traumatic adventures here and here. I want to point out that his last daycare was quite good until the ownership changed last spring. Since then the staff turnover has been brutal so I have not only removed Max, but Cameron as well.

It took a few months to find the right childcare setting for Max. It needed to have "integrated spaces" available (meaning it was a centre that Halton Region was working with and had Resource Consultants already in the facility). It needed to be a place that was open to having a child with Autism in its care and was willing to work with us to make it a successful experience for Max. It needed to have a great playground as Max LOVES to be outside. And most important, I needed to know that he would be safe and treated respectfully. For now, Max is only attending two mornings a week. His main IBI therapist, Nicole, has been supporting him for the past month, and helping him learn the routines of the room, and providing support to the teachers so that they understand what expectations they can place on Max. He has a new Resource Consultant at this centre (welcome Liz!), and the centre has received funding from Halton Region for an extra support person in the room when Max is there. As you can imagine having a child with Autism in the room is extra work. This is a very special centre and the teachers are phenomenal to welcome Max so openly.
Max's Resource Consultant took a bunch of photos of Max so that when a transition is coming up, his teachers can show him a picture of what is coming to support their verbal prompt. His receptive language is very strong so he understands what is being said to him, but the photos will help him prepare himself mentally so that it isn't so hard for him to actually follow through with it.
Max has trouble with understanding that when his teachers say "it's time to go outside" that this doesn't actually mean that they are going to open the door and allow all of the children to barrel down the stairs into the great wide open. It's all the in between steps that frustrate him (this centre is quite large, so there are more doors, stairs, waiting as children are counted, and that's all before they have even reached the cloak room to get their coats on!). Add to that when they are coming back in, they are told it's "time for lunch" when in fact, they have to go into the cloak room, go upstairs, wash their hands, and sit for circle, all before they get to eat. I'd find that hard too if I'd been told I was going to get to be fed!
The good news is that the kids in this room are fantastic (one little boy in particular seems to have decided that he is going to be Max's buddy through thick and thin). Max is drinking from a straw at daycare, helping set the tables for lunch, and has even been successful at toileting in his new room. I'm thrilled that he is getting this experience to be social with children his own age who can model appropriate behaviours for him. But I'm over the moon that he is getting the chance to be a kid and have fun.


  1. That is great news!! It sounds like a good place for him and I love that he has a little buddy already!

  2. Anonymous12:42 a.m.

    It's so good to hear that Max is doing so well in daycare. Looks like he's improving leaps and bounds !!

    Karen K

  3. Thanks Katrina for having such a great blog for us newbies! Its amazing to say to least to see Max's progress! With two young toddlers with ASD the challenge every day i faced is nothing short of a whirlwind of mix emotions!
    I have already spoke to hubby at Music Therapy and its something we are thinking about this summer!
    truly words cant say how i feel to know their are more parents in a small community like ours out there and now i can add yours:) Thank you!