Hi everyone!

I moved here in October 2017 with my husband and two daughters, one of whom is autistic. I thought it might be useful to share a little of what I've learned since arriving, for other parents of autistic children who are maybe considering the move and asking themselves if it's the right move for their child and just what's on offer here for their needs.

I'm not an expert, just a mum who's experienced a little bit of the system.

First, because all ASD kids are different, a little about my girl, her challenges may well be different to the challenges your child faces. Tilly is eleven, she was already bilingual French (she is French by birth) and English when we arrived (which meant we weren't too worried about her learning another language). She is considered moderately autistic, she's verbal (very), sociable, and has no special issues with physical contact. All these things made it "easy" for her to integrate.

When we first decided to move here, we thought a short trial in a school would be a good idea. We got in contact with a little, private, British school that we liked the look of (The Callao Learning Centre) and asked the head, Jean Simpson, if she was okay with having a try out with Tilly. She was, so we brought the girls out and they went to the school for two weeks, whilst we scoped out the area for business opportunities. The school was nice, the kids were happy, but at the end of the try-out, Mrs Simpson told us that she felt that they weren't equipped to deal with Tilly. She suggested we have a look at the special needs schools in the area. We were disappointed, of course, but understood that they had tried and it hadn't worked out. (Thanks for trying Jean, if you're reading this, it is appreciated.)

We continued with our plan. Considered other private schools (Martin Luther, Colegio Internacional de Adeje etc) and thought about public schools too. I certainly wasn't fixed on the idea of private. A chat with our taxi driver on the way to the airport convinced us that maybe public was the way to go. She was a German, who had moved here when she was twelve and had been in both private and public school, she told us that she had fitted in better and had more help in the public school.

We found our business, we eventually found a flat rental that would accept our dog and cats. At which point my husband went down to the local school in Arona and had a chat with the headmaster (a lovely guy who speaks excellent English, by the way). The head was happy to enroll our girls, Tilly was enrolled in the 6° which is a class of kids her age (but far in advance of her academically speaking). The kids have been exceptional in making her feel welcome, she has friends (and admirers) and is happy socially. Her teacher is very patient, she also has a teaching assistant who works with her separately in another room, using pictograms, tablet applications etc. This was all put into place by the school without our saying anything. She has extra Spanish lessons (with headphones and audios) while the other kids do English or French, as does her NT sister.

We have recently had a meeting with her teachers and the local education evaluators, and next year she will either be admitted to a special inclusion class in the public school in Valle San Lorenzo, where she will be taught individually-ish in a class of five or six kids, with inclusion in regular classes for subjects where she doesn't have problems (sport, art etc). If there's no space available there, she will remain in the local school with extra assistance. Special needs school was considered and rejected as not suitable for Tilly.

As a parent, I am really happy with how positive everybody at the school has been. The methods they use are up to date, and helpful, the kids are great, and there is no feeling of exclusion. She's still facing difficulties, but at least I don't need to hear "I don't want to go to school, Mrs *** is mean and the kids are not nice" which was pretty regular for mornings in France before.

Other stuff: She takes concerta and melatonin, both of which are prescribed by her local GP/pediatrician. We have an appointment with the pediatric neurologist in November (six months wait, it was pretty much the same in France). The school hours 8:30-13:30 fit better, she's more able to concentrate in the mornings and leave us plenty of time in the afternoons to go to the beach or the aquapark, or just to relax at home. There is before and after school care available if needed.

Oh and next month she's going on a five day school trip to the mainland with the rest of her class, which will be a first. a little scared about that, but really believe that it will be a positive experience for her. And she's joined the Brownies and just made her "promise".

Honestly, it's all good.

Hoping this will help someone.