Autism public schools in Chicago
Sending an Autistic Child to Public School

School is a basic right for all children in the United States, and public schools are responsible for providing this education at no cost as mandated by law. The problem is that while general education is ‘free,’ most public schools are inadequately equipped and lack the resources to implement effective programs for Autistic children.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of this setting for children with autism so you can determine whether it’s what you’re looking for.

Public School Options for Autistic Children

In public schools, there are various options available for Autistic children. Basically, it should depend on your child’s needs. These options are available:

  • A mainstreamed public school classroom with no additional support
  • A mainstreamed public school classroom with support, such as a 1-to-1 aide or accommodations
  • A combination of typical and special education classrooms for part of their day
  • A general, special education class
  • A specialized public autism class with some inclusion or mainstreaming opportunities
  • A specialized public autism class without any inclusion or mainstreaming opportunities
  • A charter school specifically for students with special needs
  • A cyber charter school designed for students with special needs.

The Benefits of Public School for Children with Autism

Individualized Plan for education

The first advantage regarding the education of an autistic child in a public school setting is that they are entitled to have their very own Educational Plan (IEP). This IEP, is developed by the child’s guardians and the district-level “team,” outlines specific goals and needs for the child. The guardians or team members can always call upon a meeting to assess and determine the next course of action.

Social Interaction

Secondly, public school provides an opportunity for autistic children to interact with other peers. This can foster social skills and help them develop a sense of belonging within the school community. Moreover, it allows interactions with other parents or guardians, creating a support system and promoting open communication about the child’s progress.

The Disadvantages of public school for Autistic children

Lack of peaceful environment to thrive

The first challenge with the public education system for children diagnosed with autism is that your child may not be able to thrive peacefully. This is considering the kind of peers your child is surrounded with and the environment that caters to the needs of the majority of students. Almost every child with autism is different and may require specialized support.


It is possible that you may not be satisfied with the autism support program provided by your district. Although some districts have implemented an ABA program for their autistic students, in some cases, you find some groups of parents and neurodivergent advocates who fight against it. This implies your child may not receive the support they deserve.

A vast majority of professionals and activists specializing in autism regard ABA, also known as Applied Behavioral Analysis, to be the ultimate benchmark for autism therapy. It utilizes a system of rewards and consequences to facilitate change in behavior.


Many autistic children often fall victim to bullying due to their distinct behaviors, movements, and speech patterns compared to their peers. The children at more risk are those with lower support needs, as they are typically included in classes with neurotypical students.

Sensory sensitivity 

Daily sensory overload at a typical school can be too much. The constant noise and crowdedness can be exhausting and challenging to handle.

The key is to find schools or programs that are inclusive and have support programs such as ABA implemented in them. Here at Nevada Autism, we understand the unique needs of autistic children and provide specialized support that focuses on children’s strengths and abilities.