This is the inaugural post for 30 Seats, at 30seats.blogspot.com. We’ll host externally at some point and transfer these posts.
We are parents of a 3 year-old boy diagnosed with PDD-NOS. We live in northern New Jersey, where there is both a plethora of autistic children and a seeming wealth of top-quality resources for early intensive behavioral intervention, EIBI, and applied behavioral analysis, ABA. There are just seven high-quality schools for autistic kids in New Jersey: Alpine Learning Group, EPIC, Garden Academy, IEA, PCDI, Reed Academy, and Somerset Hills Learning Institute. These schools each have about 25-30 children and young adults in their full-time programs, typically ranging in age from 3-21 years.
Unfortunately, because of the limited number of children who transition out of the full-time programs, typically into supported mainstream placements, there are probably no more than 30 seats available to new placements for students. Each school might transition 2-3 students a year, and a higher number under unusual circumstances. No matter how you slice it, there will almost never be 30 new kids placed into these programs in a year.
Frankly, we think this sucks. It’s actually scary because without research supporting any other treatment paradigms, EIBI is the one realistic hope for our kids. If there isn’t enough quality in the public schools to support the kids there, then they spill over to home programs and center-based (i.e., private school) programs. It’s like having dialysis machines or chemotherapy for just a small portion of the sick — we would never accept it for kidney disease or cancer, and we can not let ourselves accept it for autism.
As we go along, we’ll create a number of short posts explaining our general thoughts and biases, as well as the rationale for our beliefs. Right now, we’ll focus on a few major themes:
- The need for and pursuit of new high-quality private schools for autistic kids,
- The current science relating to causes and treatments for autism,
- Public health concerns, including epidemiology and cost-benefit analysis of treatment paradigms and the lack thereof, and
- Legal issues that are reflected in current events.
Once we move to a new home, we’ll create resources to help parents construct home programs and, hopefully, create an open-source style plan for creating a new school in your community.
Comments and questions are welcome. Be polite to others.