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Saturday, February 3, 2024

NYC Children with Disabilities

 In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. II also discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families

Alex Zimmerman at Chalkbeat:
Children with disabilities often must travel outside their neighborhoods to attend schools with smaller class sizes staffed by teachers with specialized training. Those trips can stretch over an hour each way, thanks in part to the city’s notoriously unreliable yellow bus system. Lengthy commutes can make it difficult to attend after-school programs or build friendships with children in their neighborhood who attend local schools.

“Many of our kids, we’ve got to send them way out of the neighborhood at great expense to the system and at great inconvenience to the families and to the kids themselves,” schools Chancellor David Banks said during a press conference at Brooklyn’s P.S. 958, which opened last school year as a model for serving local students with a broad range of abilities.

“We’ve got to fix this,” Banks said. “Today really is the beginning of that work.”

Children with autism who are entering kindergarten in Districts 5, 12, and 14 will be guaranteed a spot in a specialized program in their home district. (Those districts cover Harlem, Crotona Park in the Bronx, and Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods, respectively.) To accomplish that, the city is adding 160 total seats in those neighborhoods across three existing programs: ASD Nest, Horizon, and AIMS, which is short for Acquisition, Integrated Services, Meaningful Communication, and Social Skills.

Although Banks previously expanded Nest and Horizon programs, the addition of 160 new slots represents a drop in the bucket given the growing number of children who are classified with autism and who qualify for them. More than 10,000 children with autism could benefit from a seat in a Nest or Horizon program but are placed elsewhere, according to Education Department figures.