According to the Autism Society, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) account for about one percent of the world population. The National Autism Association states that in the United States, one in 68 children are born with ASD, and this diagnosis occurs four times more in boys than in girls.
There are many reasons the Montessori environment can be a beneficial environment for children on the spectrum. These include social interactions and life skills as well as the individualized curriculum. Social interactions can help these children build relationships and help them learn appropriate behaviors. Life skills provide children with proficiencies to succeed in their daily lives by providing independence through materials. The individualized curriculum focuses on the level where the child is and how they will get to the next level within their abilities.
Will Montessori work for your child on the autism spectrum?
5 Resources to Learn about Autism & the Montessori Classroom
- Age of Montessori has an article written from a parent’s point-of-view for the reasons the Montessori environment is a great fit for ASD children.
- Montessori4autism has a comprehensive website. It covers topics about the challenge of autism, benefits of the Montessori environment, and action plans for you to follow.
- The North American Montessori Center (NAMC) blog has a post about children with special needs in the Montessori classroom.
- Michelle Lane-Barmapov is the founder of the Lane Montessori School for Autism in Toronto, Canada. Her website, Montessori Autism, includes training information and links to books she has written about the Montessori primary curriculum. She also wrote an article for the NAMTA journal in 2009 entitled “A Montessori approach to autism.”
- Montessori For Everyone has a link to an interview with Michelle Lane of the Lane Montessori School who describes combining Montessori with autism therapy as well as answers questions about what her school models look like.
These resources will serve as a beginning for you to determine whether or not your child will benefit from this setting. I encourage you to plan visits and observe in various Montessori environments. Speak with the director of the schools about whether the staff will work with your family. Not all experiences with Montessori serve autistic children well. Read this parent's story of how Montessori failed her autistic son. So, do your research. It is vital that you have the background information and facts in hand when you make these visits, as it will help you in representing your child and finding the ideal setting for them to learn and succeed.