The Challenges of Finding the Right School for My 7-Year-Old Autistic Son in Germany

When my husband suggested relocating to Germany in 2018, I thought my biggest challenges would be the language barrier and starting a new career. I was excited, nervous, and scared, but my biggest motivation was my children. Insecurity was becoming an issue in Nigeria, and my son was showing signs of being on the autism spectrum. We thought Germany would be a great place to get the support we couldn’t find in Nigeria. Don’t get me wrong—Germany is a fantastic country with excellent education, one of the best healthcare systems, and substantial social benefits. To top it all off, we don’t have to worry about insecurity. But when it comes to raising a child with special needs, especially autism, Germany is surprisingly far behind for such a highly developed country. The school system in Germany is particularly challenging for children on the spectrum because it is very inflexible. In Germany, it is compulsory to send your child to the Grundschule (the equivalent of primary school), and you could be fined if you do otherwise. Homeschooling is illegal except under extraordinary circumstances. At six, your child must be registered at the community elementary school, where they will stay for the next four years. My son is seven years old, almost eight, and we have yet to find a school for him. Why? The Grundschule is not structured to accommodate children with any form of disability, whether physical, mental, or intellectual. The teachers and most of the staff have zero training when it comes to children with special needs. The lack of awareness is astounding. My son’s first four days at the Grundschule were disastrous and traumatizing. You might wonder why I took my son to the Grundschule instead of a specialized school. We searched for a school for a whole year, and every school we applied to rejected us. My son is non-verbal autistic with high intellectual and learning abilities, but most special needs schools (Förderzentrum) take only children with learning disabilities. Therefore, they have no capacity for children with an IQ above 60. And because it is against the law in Germany to keep your child at home, we had to take him to the Grundschule, despite knowing it wouldn’t work. The main issues with finding a school for kids with autism are: Limited Schools:  There are few schools for children who need emotional and social support like my son. If your child has Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or a learning disability, you might find a school. However, the system does not cater to the needs of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism without a learning disability. Lack of Special Needs Teachers:  There is a significant lack of special needs teachers or trained school accompaniment (Schulbegleiter) who can assist your child in a regular classroom. Most Grundschule teachers have not interacted with children with special needs and have no idea what to do. My son’s class teacher, despite having a Ph.D., is constantly panicking around him. Parental Influence:  Parents of other children have significant influence over the school. If a parent is uncomfortable with your special needs child being in the classroom, your child has to leave. Long Waiting Lists:  Even if you find the right school, the waiting list is so long that your child might be ready for high school by the time a spot opens up. The waiting list can take as long as two years or more. Unhelpful Government Bodies:  The government body in charge of special education is ineffective, offering no sound advice and providing little assistance. Language Barrier:  If you are a foreigner struggling with the German language, your frustration doubles. School officials and government bodies primarily communicate in German, and finding English speakers is rare. It’s either you find a school or no school; there is no alternative, which is why my son has been home for the last eight months. The bureaucracy is tedious, requiring many forms and conversations in German with no real results. We have applied to all the schools in my city and have either been rejected or placed on a waiting list. This will be our ninth month without school for my son. I had to quit my job to be home with him. It has not been easy, but God is faithful. If you have a child with special needs and you plan to relocate to Germany, I advise you to make all your findings before taking the leap. If you are in a similar situation, write to me in the comment section. If you have any questions, I will be happy to respond. Cheers! Read more


 10 Remarkable People with Autism: Inspiring Success Stories

 10 Remarkable People with Autism: Inspiring Success Stories Autism is a diverse spectrum, and individuals with autism often possess unique talents, abilities, and perspectives.  In this article, we’ll delve into the inspiring success stories of 10 remarkable people with autism who have achieved greatness in their respective fields.  Their journeys remind us that autism doesn’t define limits; it often reveals exceptional abilities.  Let’s get started! 1. Temple Grandin: Revolutionizing Animal Science Dr. Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science and an advocate for autism, has transformed the livestock industry. Her unique understanding of animal behavior led to groundbreaking innovations in animal handling systems, making them more humane and efficient. 2.  Dan Aykroyd: A Hollywood Icon Renowned actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd has entertained generations with his performances in films like “Ghostbusters” and “Blues Brothers.” His remarkable ability to remember and mimic accents and dialects is a testament to his artistic genius.  3. Daryl Hannah: From Hollywood to Activism Actress Daryl Hannah, known for her roles in “Splash” and “Kill Bill,” has passionately embraced environmental activism. Her advocacy work reflects her deep connection to nature, and her journey is a testament to the power of passion. 4. Tony DeBlois: A Musical Prodigy Tony DeBlois is a musical genius who can play more than 20 musical instruments by ear. His extraordinary talent as a blind musician with autism has touched the hearts of many.  5. Dr. Vernon Smith: Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Vernon Smith, a renowned economist and Nobel laureate, has significantly contributed to experimental economics. His work on market behavior and understanding human decision-making is celebrated globally. 6. Amanda Baggs: An Advocate for Nonverbal Autistics Amanda Baggs, a nonverbal autistic, has used her unique form of communication to advocate for the rights of nonverbal autistics. Her influential video, “In My Language,” has inspired countless individuals. 7. Satoshi Tajiri: The Pokémon Creator The imaginative genius behind Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri, used his fascination with collecting insects as a child to create one of the most beloved franchises in the world, captivating hearts and imaginations. 8. Dr. Stephen Shore: An Educator and Advocate Dr. Stephen Shore, an educator and advocate, has dedicated his life to helping individuals with autism. His journey from being nonverbal to a leading advocate serves as an inspiration to many.  9. John Elder Robison: A Masterful Engineer John Elder Robison, an accomplished engineer and author, has channeled his unique perspective into inventing special effects for rock bands and crafting thought-provoking books on his life with autism. 10. Haley Moss: Pioneering the Legal Field Haley Moss, the first openly autistic lawyer in Florida, has made significant strides in the legal profession. Her advocacy for autism awareness and inclusion highlights the importance of diverse voices in the legal field. These remarkable individuals with autism have achieved success and left an indelible mark on their respective fields. Their stories serve as a reminder that neurodiversity is an asset and that individuals’ unique qualities can lead to extraordinary accomplishments. Whether you are a parent to an autistic child or a caregiver, this is to inspire you. Never give up!!! Read more on the Ultimate guide on how to support your child with Autism


Neurodiversity and Autism: Embracing Differences

Neurodiversity and Autism: Embracing Differences In a world that thrives on diversity, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of every individual.  Neurodiversity, a term gaining momentum, champions the idea that neurological differences are a natural part of human variation.  At the heart of neurodiversity lies autism, a complex spectrum of experiences and abilities.  In this journey of understanding and acceptance, we invite you to explore the profound concept of “Neurodiversity and Autism: Embracing Differences.” Let’s dive in! Defining Neurodiversity and Autism Neurodiversity is a concept that encourages us to view neurological differences, including autism, as variations of the human experience rather than deficits.  Autism, a neurological condition, is characterized by various traits and characteristics that vary from person to person.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all condition but rather a rich tapestry of experiences. Understanding the Spectrum The autism spectrum is a spectrum of possibilities where individuals may find themselves at different points.  Some may require extensive support, while others may lead independent lives. This diversity challenges us to rethink our preconceived notions and stereotypes about autism. Common Traits and Characteristics Autism often manifests in distinct traits such as social communication challenges, sensory sensitivities, and repetitive behaviors.  However, it’s crucial to remember that these characteristics don’t define the entirety of an individual’s identity.  Each person with autism has unique strengths, talents, and interests that go beyond these traits. The Importance of Embracing Differences Fostering Inclusion and Acceptance Embracing neurodiversity is about fostering a culture of inclusion and acceptance.  When we embrace differences, we create an environment where everyone feels valued, regardless of their neurological makeup.  This inclusivity enriches our communities and workplaces, driving innovation and creativity. Challenging Stigmas and Stereotypes Autism has often been shrouded in stigmas and stereotypes.  Challenging these misconceptions can break down barriers and promote a more accurate understanding of autism.  Real stories of individuals thriving on the autism spectrum serve as powerful tools for debunking myths. Supporting Neurodiversity Education and Awareness Education and awareness are essential pillars of support for neurodiversity.  By educating ourselves about autism and neurodiversity, we can better advocate for inclusion and acceptance.  Numerous resources are available to expand your knowledge, from books to online courses. Creating Inclusive Environments Creating inclusive environments means making spaces accessible and comfortable for neurodiverse individuals.  Simple adjustments like providing sensory-friendly accommodations or implementing clear communication strategies can make a significant difference.  Remember, it’s about creating an atmosphere where everyone can flourish. Personal Stories and Perspectives To truly grasp the essence of neurodiversity, it’s valuable to hear personal stories and perspectives.  Jack’s Journey: An Autistic Advocate Jack, a passionate advocate for autism acceptance, shares his journey. “Autism isn’t something to be ‘fixed.’ It’s a part of who I am, and it’s given me unique strengths.  When society accepts us for who we are, incredible things happen.” Parenting an Autistic Child: Layo’s Story Layo, a mother of an autistic child, reflects on her journey. “Understanding my child’s neurodiversity has been a beautiful journey.  It’s not without challenges but also filled with moments of profound connection and joy.” Resources and Support Community and Advocacy Organizations If you’re seeking to get involved and support neurodiversity, many organizations are dedicated to this cause.  The Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the National Autistic Society are excellent starting points for advocacy and resources. Recommended Reading and Films If you are interested in delving deeper into the world of neurodiversity and autism, here are some recommended reading materials and films: – “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity” by Steve Silberman – “The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism” by Naoki Higashida – “Life, Animated  (a documentary film) – Directed by Roger Ross Williams  Conclusion As we conclude our journey into the realm of “Neurodiversity and Autism:  Embracing Differences,” we carry with us the understanding that every individual, regardless of their neurology, has a unique contribution.  By embracing neurodiversity, challenging stereotypes, and fostering inclusive environments, we create a world where differences are celebrated, and every person is valued for their distinct abilities and perspectives. It’s a world where we move beyond tolerance and into acceptance, where we understand that diversity is not just a concept; it’s the heartbeat of humanity.  So, as you step into the world with this newfound knowledge, remember that by embracing differences, you’re not just making a difference—you’re shaping a more compassionate and inclusive future for us all. *Additional Resources and References* – Autism Speaks – Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions by Nick Walker Read more on unlocking your child’s potential with these 14 strategies

child with autism

9 Effective Strategies for Successful Behavior in Autism.

Imagine living in a world where every sensation is amplified; every sound, every touch, and every movement can feel overwhelming and chaotic.  For children with Autism, this is often their reality, and it is a significant contributor to challenging behaviors. What do you do when your child’s behavior is beginning to negatively impact their life, your life, and those around you?  As parents, you can help unlock successful behavior in your child by using creative and empathetic strategies.  In this post, I will teach you some creative and empathy-based effective strategies for successful behavior in Autism. Join me on this journey towards a more empathetic and inclusive world for children with Autism. Let’s dive in. 1. Understand the Behavior: Understanding why your child is displaying challenging behavior is essential. Is there a trigger, or is your child trying to communicate a need or want? Finding out the underlying cause of the behavior can help you develop strategies to manage or prevent it. 2. Use Positive Reinforcement: Children with Autism often respond well to positive reinforcement. Praise and reward your child when they display positive behavior, such as following a routine or using appropriate language, which increases the possibility of that behavior repeating itself. Over time, your child learns to associate positive behavior with positive outcomes and will engage in those behaviors. Children with Autism often respond well to positive reinforcement.  Praise and reward your child when they display positive behavior, such as following a routine or using appropriate language, which increases the possibility of that behavior repeating itself.  Over time, your child learns to associate positive behavior with positive outcomes and will engage in those behaviors. 3. Implement Visual Supports:  Visual aids such as picture schedules and social stories can help your child understand what is expected of them and reduce anxiety.  Using visual supports can also help your child anticipate changes in routine or environment, reducing challenging behaviors and increasing positive behaviors. To find out more about visual aid, click here 4. Provide Sensory Input: Many children with Autism have sensory sensitivities that can contribute to challenging behaviors.  Providing sensory input, such as a weighted blanket, fidget toy, or stress ball, and sensory activities like hand and foot painting, playdough, mud, or water beads can help your child regulate their sensory system and reduce anxiety. 5. Use Calming Techniques: When your child displays challenging behavior, calming techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce their anxiety and de-escalate the situation. To find out more about calming techniques, click on the link 6. Breaking Down Tasks Into Smaller Steps:  Children with Autism may become overwhelmed when presented with complex tasks.  When introducing a new task or skill to your child, break them down into smaller steps, making them more manageable and achievable for the child.  This strategy can reduce frustration and increase the likelihood of successful completion. 7. Teach a Replacing Behavior:  It is sometimes productive to replace your child’s challenging behavior with a more appropriate behavior rather than focusing on the negative one.  Teach the new behavior you want your child to learn through modeling and positive reinforcement, and monitor progress, adjusting the approach as necessary.  8. Encourage Positive Practice: Reinforcement to encourage the desired behavior and help the child feel motivated to continue practicing.  Unlike correcting unwanted behaviors, positive practice involves practicing a desired behavior repeatedly until it becomes a habit. Help your child repeatedly practice a desired behavior rather than correcting an unwanted behavior.  It’s important to note that positive practice should always be accompanied by positive. 9. Seek Professional Support Seek professional support if you struggle to manage your child’s challenging behaviors.  A behavior therapist can provide additional strategies and support tailored to your child’s specific needs. You can do it. Handling challenging behavior in Autism can be a complex and emotional journey.  Being patient, flexible, and empathetic towards yourself and your child is essential. Remember to take care of yourself as you try different strategies and techniques.  Whether taking a break, seeking support from loved ones, or practicing self-care, remember that you are doing your best; every step forward is a victory. With time, effort, and lots of love, you can help your child overcome challenges and reach their full potential.  Keep on keeping on! To learn more about Autism, read our post on Unlocking Your Child’s Potential: 14 Autism Thriving Strategies The Ultimate Guide: How to Support Your Child with Autism 12 Essential Websites for Immigrant Families Navigating Autism in Germany