Moving to Australia With Children That Have Asperger's
This post is yet another that comes straight from my email inbox, as many of the posts on Sydney Moving Guide do. It's from an SMG readers, let's call her Sarah.
Sarah's question below is very specific to her situation but, as I started asking expat parents I know in Sydney and doing several searches online, I found that it was hard to find good information on Asperger Syndrome in Australia.
The few sites I did find weren't updated on a regular basis. For this reason, I thought it might be a good idea to post the information that I did find here so that others having trouble would be able to find it.
Tips for Finding Schools That Support Asperger Children From Overseas
Here's Sarah's question:
We have a 12-year-old boy with Asperger's. He can cope in mainstream school with the right support ( ie learning support, small classes, etc) – schools with strong creative arts and IT programs would be great.
I searched many times online, but haven't yet found a conclusive answer.
Any help would be much appreciated.
Resources for Parents With Asperger Children in Sydney
I've done some research online and asked a couple of friends that have kids if they knew of any resources for you. And, well, I'm getting a lot of blank stares and not really any good solid information or suggestions.
I've also sent out a couple of emails to some of the NSW education sites for some help. I'll update this post when I hear back, but for now here are some references I found.
Autism Spectrum Australia
Autism Spectrum Australia offers several autism-specific services for the whole family and for all stages of life, so not just for children. They have nine independent schools all over Australia, and over 100 satellite classes – classes run by Autism Spectrum Australia schools, but held in mainstream schools, both public and private. There are several schools in Sydney that offer classes run by Autism Spectrum Australia.
Diocese of Sydney
Many people go with private catholic schools when moving to Sydney especially those with TSS 482 Visas as the cost of tuition for public schools in NSW is $5,600 – $6,400 a year and for a little bit more their kids can go to private schools that are usually more accommodating for children from overseas.
Sydney Schools to Get in Touch With
It looks like “special needs” gets lumped in with “disabilities” and Asperger's with autism in general. You've mentioned that your son is fine in a mainstream school with the right support. I'm thinking that these schools might be geared more towards a higher level of support, but don't know for sure. The only way to really know is to ask them so I thought I should go ahead and list them here so you can contact them if you want. If anything, they might be able to refer you to another school that is a better fit.
- Woodbury is in Baulkham Hills, not a bad area for families. It's an independent school for children with autism aged 4 to 15 years.
- Located in Gladesville, Giant Steps is for students up to 18 years who have a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'm not that familiar with Autism and don't know what Autism Spectrum Disorder is exactly but again, could be just a point of contact or reference.
- Epping Boys High School is a performing arts school with an Autism Support Unit. You mentioned creative arts in your email so thought this might be an option.
- Arranounbai School is a school for children with disabilities that focuses on arts, music and technology.
NSW Department of Education Temporary Residents Program
You can contact the NSW Department of Education Temporary Residents Program and ask them questions directly and someone usually gets back to you.
This is meant for temporary visa holders, but even if you don't have a TSS 482 Visa they can still help you out. Or you can just say you do, but I don't think it matters.
Be sure to give them all the details about your son like birthdate, age, year in currently and whatever else you think they might need to know.
Australian Autism and Asperger's Facebook Groups
I did a quick search on Facebook to see if there were any Sydney Asperger's Parenting Groups and didn't find any that specific, but there are a few other Asperger's Facebook Groups based in Australia.
Update from Autism Spectrum Australia
I heard back from one of the emails I sent to Autism Spectrum Australia about schools.
They said your first port of call should be contacting them and they can put you in touch with someone located in NSW.
You may need a “new” diagnosis, it depends on the state rules and so on.
As far as schools, it will be tricky because of the diagnosis, the school might want to have that “new” diagnosis first before accepting your son.
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