Asperger’s boarding schools specialize in working with children who have Asperger’s Syndrome. What makes them a specialty boarding school is that they provide unique therapy and special educational and life-skill training opportunities that are suited for preparing Asperger’s children for successful living in the modern world.1
“Families of children with Aspergers may choose boarding school for…preparation for college life [and] independent living training…”
Asperger’s children are those on the autism spectrum of disorders who don’t have cognitive or speech difficulties. They mostly struggle in social situations which require interacting with others. In particular, they have a difficult time expressing emotions and picking up on social cues.2
Aspergers is named for Hans Asperger who in the mid-1940s published a scientific paper describing a pattern of behavior in boys who had normal or high intelligence and language development but had autistic-like behavior.5
“Temple Grandin, a famous college professor who has autism, studies at a boarding school before entering college.”
Graduates of Asperger’s boarding schools most often go on to find immediate employment or enroll in a university, as well as being prepared to live productively with others in the world at large.1
There are two kinds of Asperger’s boarding schools. One kind specializes in working only with Aspergers and others on the continuum of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The second kind is a traditional boarding school, where students live and get their schooling 24-7, but has a program embedded that caters to Asperger’s children. Some families prefer the more traditional approach because it gives their children the opportunity to live and work amongst other children without Aspergers.1
Traditional boarding schools are those where some or all students study and live during the school year with their fellow students. The term ‘boarding” refers to having a bed and meals away from home.
It is extremely important to include your child’s primary care physician in the decision to place your child in boarding school, as well as which one in particular.
Unique Therapy and Special Programs
Any top Aspergers specialty boarding school will offer intense therapy in social skills, involving intense one-to-one work with an experienced “Aspie” therapist.3
Such top specialty boarding schools will use the latest ASD-specific equipment that is most often unavailable in public schools, including sensory integration tools, ‘social story’ materials, and Aspie-specific organizational software.3
Especially important are smaller class sizes and freedom from bullying. There is no substitute for safety at school, of for Asperger’s children, the genuine feeling of being safe from both physical and emotional harm.4
Further, specialized instruction must include occupational therapy, as well as student-directed programs that emphasize individual learning styles, including Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emilia.4
It is important to note that there is no specific course of treatment or cure for Aspergers. Therapists to date have relied chiefly on psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions. Medications typically include psychostimulants, mood stabilizers, beta blockers and tricyclic-type antidepressants.5
Leading Boarding Schools for AS Students
Leading boarding schools with Asperger’s programs include:1
- The Hampshire Country School is a school for gifted boys between the ages of 8 and 13 who have trouble with social interaction and communication and require more personalized attention from teachers in a small school setting. Located in Rindge, New Hampshire, The school offers a family setting in a rural environment. While the school is not an ASD specialty school, it does focus on helping boys who have trouble learning and interacting in traditional academic settings. The school has programs for working with Asperger’s students. Formerly a co-educational school, this is the boarding school that Temple Grandin attended during its coed years.
- The New Leaf Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 who need extra guidance with social and communication skills as well as appropriate emotional and behavioral responses. The school works with both girls experiencing behavioral crisis and girls with conditions such as Aspergers. The New Leaf Academy offers a program called Star Steps, a personal development program based on the teachings of Dr. Erik Erikson, which focuses on providing individual attention to girls to help them. The New Leaf Academy of Oregon is located in Bend, Oregon. New Leaf Academy of North Carolina is located in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
- Little Keswick School is a therapeutic boarding school in Keswick, Virginia for boys between the ages of 10 and 17 that specializes in Aspergers and conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. The school focuses on both strong academics and improving social skills and emotional expression.
- The Devereaux Glenhome School is a coed therapeutic boarding school for children between the ages 10 and 18 located in Washington, Connecticut. Glenhome offers a college preparatory program and individualized programs for students with Aspergers and other conditions such as ADHD.
- The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, affiliated with the University of Chicago, is a Chicago-based coed therapeutic boarding school for children and teenagers with Aspergers, learning disabilities, mental challenges, emotional problems, and special needs. The residential treatment program models its program after the philosophy of the word orthogenic, which means to grow straight and grow tall. The school combines education with individual and group therapies to give students preparation for higher education, work, and daily life.
1 “Aspergers Boarding School,” Adrienne Warber, Love to Know.
2 “This Is What Children with Aspergers Syndrome Wish You Knew,” Angel Sense.
3 “Boarding Schools for Students with Aspergers Syndrome,” Boarding Schools Info.
4 “American Aspergers Boarding Schools,” Troubled Teen Search.
5 “Medical Definition of Aspergers Syndrome,” Medicine Net.