To separate, or not – autistic twins and school

Triplet girls in school uniform wearing backpacks and smiling
Should you separate or keep them together?

One of the hardest decisions you might have to make as a parent of autistic twins, triplets or more is whether to keep them together in the same classroom, or even the same school.

When you found out you were having multiples, you probably imagined all of the things your children would do together – going to school, driving a car, graduating, etc.  Treating your children as individuals is so important, but perhaps even more some when one or all of them are autistic.  And sometimes that means they will not be in the same classroom, but will depend on a variety of factors such as their individual needs, abilities, and preferences, as well as the resources and support available at the school.

Sometimes there is a benefit in keeping your children together in the same classroom.  They can provide each other with emotional support and social interaction, and they may have similar learning styles and communication needs.  The school may be able to better address these needs in a shared environment.

On the other hand, some children may require individual attention and support, and may benefit from being in separate classrooms where they can receive more one-on-one instruction and tailored interventions.

When not all of the children are autistic, there are certain challenges which may present themselves as well.  For example, a non-autistic child may be asked to support or watch their autistic sibling in a shared classroom, which sounds nice but may cause the non-autistic child to miss out on their own learning and social developmental needs.  It might also be difficult for the non-autistic sibling to deal with the stress of seeing their autistic sibling struggling in the classroom.

You may find that your autistic child is not only in a different classroom, but in a different school altogether.  As hard as this may be, focusing on what each child needs may be best. Ultimately, the decision should be based on the unique needs and abilities of each child, as well as the resources and support available at the school.