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Emma's Story

Emma's Story

emma
Emma on the first day of school, September 2018

Emma, a 12-year-old student with autism, is currently making great strides academically, socially, and in daily living skills, thanks to a school placement that meets her unique needs.  When Advocates for Children first met Emma in 2016, however, her future was not looking nearly as bright.  Though Emma began receiving special education services in preschool and displayed many common symptoms of autism, the Department of Education (DOE) never properly evaluated her for this disability.  As a result, she spent elementary school in special education classes where she made minimal progress, performing several years below grade level in multiple academic subjects and struggling to pay attention and organize her thoughts.  The DOE failed to offer Emma a more supportive program and school placement, even when Emma’s mother expressed concerns.  In fact, Emma’s school actually decreased her speech-language therapy—despite an evaluation showing that she continued to have significant speech and language delays—and suggested moving Emma to a class where she would have even less individualized attention. 

AFC intervened, getting Emma a comprehensive evaluation to determine her needs and then working with her mother to find a more appropriate school.  After filing an impartial hearing request, we secured tuition for Emma to attend a specialized non-public school, where she started in the summer of 2017.  With individualized support and instruction from teachers with expertise in working with students like her, Emma’s made academic gains, improved her social-emotional skills, and become more independent! 

Emma’s mother describes her family’s journey best:

“Before AFC, parents [like me] feel angry, broken, hopeless, and powerless.  After AFC, parents and children become more confident and walk tall.  AFC provides parents with many resources and useful information to better understand our children’s disabilities. I believe that at AFC, my little Emma’s future matters. 

Our lives have been transformed for the better in these past two years that we have been part of the AFC family.  I cannot believe how much Emma has progressed academically, emotionally, and in her social skills because AFC helped us to place her in a school where she belongs. I have called every single staff member at AFC that has contacted us a guardian angel.”