Should my child start high school at year 7 or 9? Single sex or co-ed?


My child, a daughter,  has just been diagnosed with ASD is in  year 6, is meeting educational requirements. The diagnosis is so new to us that we are trying to work out exactly all the issues and how to help her etc  -although anxiety is a big one. She seems to enjoy being by herself on the weekends. It could be that she is masking a lot at school but she insists that she does not find the classroom too noisy/busy.  She likes to manage herself.

We had considered that maybe the local state school would be good for her since she could get conveniently lost  and  mage herself but I have read some of the other threads on this website and seems to suggest that it can be really overwhelming for them.

We are very lucky to be able to afford a private education. In the next couple of weeks we would need to decide whether to start  high school in year 7 or wait until year 9. Also we would  need to decide whether she goes co ed or girls only school

Some people have suggested that it is better for ASD children to start in year 7 so that they have a good 3 years to get used to  the high school before they need to concentrate on GCSes.  They suggest that if the kids start at year 9, they only have one year to get used to the school and the other children. Other people say if they seem happy at their primary school keep them there and wait until they are a bit older/mature.

I would really welcome any comments from the community on whether to move her at year 7 or year 9 and whether to go co-ed or girls only school. I have read that ASD girls often hang out with the boys as they get older because the girls are a bit complicated for them???  I suspect that I may ask a lot of questions over the coming weeks

Warmest regards

  • Hi,

    only you can make the decision because only you know your daughter however personally I would definitely choose a school with boys and girls, so it gives her the option of hanging out with both. moving her in year 7 is definitely the better option as it gives her time to settle in and for the school to put things in place for her before she starts the important years (GCSE's), also if your daughter finds socializing hard (i know I do) then it will be even worse in year 9 because everyone will already have friendship groups so probably best if she starts with everyone else in year 7?

    if you can afford to send her to a private school then that is great however I go to a state school and they are very supportive of me so don't completely rule it out. 

    have you looked around any secondary schools? perhaps make a list of a few that you and your daughter like and then ask if you can have a meeting with someone from the AEN department. i know you said your daughter likes to manage herself and it's great that she can do that but I'm sure you and her would like to know what support is there for her if she does find things particularly difficult and then you can make an educated decision. 

    was that any help?

    Alisha xx

  • The only advantage that I have ever come across for single-sex schools is that they can improve academic attainment, especially for girls and specifically in STEM subjects. Given that most autistics who don't have cognitive disabilties find the socialising part of school life the difficult part, and the learning relatively easy, then the advantages of being able to socialise with both sexes would appear to be overwhelmingly greater. On a personal note, I don't know anyone who went to a single-sex school who didn't carry unfortunate baggage in relating to the opposite sex into adult life. As autistics have problems with communication, adding an unnecessary extra one should be avoided. 

  • Hi Martin and Alisha,

    Thank you very  much for your insights as I have read that the teenage years can be really quite hard for ASD kids.

    A bit of a minefield for me!!

  • You are welcome. My daughter, in senior school, had mostly boys as friends; the emotional 'merry-go-round' of female friendship groups baffled and distressed her. She found that the boys were more reliable, more emotionally stable and less draining. 

  • Just an alternate opinion, I might actually suggest that girls can be more focused and less unstable when they’re not chemically induced to “human mating dances”. There’s something that happen  biologically in teenage females when they’re around boys and competition can literally just be about collecting the attention of a male. They become different.

    It can be the case that females feel more free to focus on studying with this removed. I would think socially and academically it could be useful especially if there are opportunities in mixed sex groups after school.