Special Education Costs Add Up for Parents, Schools as Federal Law Remains Underfunded

In a bright orange shirt, 8-year-old Aidan is ready to show off what he’s learning in school. His voice rises with excitement.

“Bonjour!” the third-grader exclaims, avoiding eye contact, in his family’s apartment in Brooklyn.

He’s learning French. His mom, Alana Philip, remembers meeting his French teacher.

“I said, ‘French? He’s studying French?,'” Philip said. “I think for a while there she couldn’t comprehend the horror that I was expressing, because I figured if I’m having this much difficulty with the English-based subjects, surely this is just another layer of complication.”

In preschool, Aidan was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, a subtype of autism, according to Philip. For parents, finding out about a diagnosis and figuring out school services can be anything but straightforward.

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