My first born son, Kasey, has autism. He was diagnosed at the age of 2. Fortunately for us, we live in Bergen County, New Jersey, where there are many towns that offer good schools and programs for autistic children.
What schools are best is very subjective and it varies from each child’s special needs. Also, it depends on what parents are looking for. There are inclusion programs, self-contained classes in a regular school setting, and more restrictive programs such as self-contained public schools and self-contained private schools.
Some schools follow an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) model, others have floor time (Greenspan Model).
From my wife’s professional experience (she is a licensed social worker who works in an ABA school) and also from our own personal experiences with Kasey, the Valley Pi Program in Harrington Park is really well rounded, consistent, and one of the best in the area.
There are several towns in Pascack Valley that have good reputations for their special needs students. Those towns include: Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, and Washington Townhip. Other towns in Bergen County with good services include: Alpine, Bogota, Closter, Harrington Park, Oradell, Paramus, Ramsey, Ridgewood, Upper Saddle River, and Washington Township.
As far as private schools go, Alpine Learning Center, Reed Academy, and Institute for Educational Achievement (IEA) are all excellent. These schools often have waiting lists, your child must be accepted at an early age, and your town has to offer them as a placement.
If moving to Pascack Valley/Bergen County and you have a child with special needs, use a Realtor like myself, who can relate to your situation and has the patience and understanding to help you find a home that best suits your child’s needs.