Private School for Special Needs Children Still Favored by Some Parents of Kids with Special Needs

An Arizona mother going through a divorce had a lot more than her divorce on her plate.

Her four year old special needs child was stagnating in preschool, unable to speak or communicate. The girl is autistic, has cerebral palsy and is mildly mentally retarded.

Frustrated and desperate, her mother enrolled the child in a private school for autistic children.

The divorcing mother didn’t know how she’d keep up with the tuition, but her parents funded her daughter’s start in the school and she plowed ahead.

A short year later, her daughter is thriving. She communicates with sign language, verbalizes, makes eye contact and interacts with the people surrounding her.

Arizona passed a school voucher program that allows disabled children to attend private schools. That program has enabled this little girl to remain in the private school that has benefited her so greatly.

Despite success stories like this, the Arizona program is dramatically under-utilized. In very sharp contrast to a similar program here in Florida.

How come? Commentators attribute poor response to several factors, ranging from low public awareness to ongoing legal challenges that foster a perception of precariousness and instability. Opponents argue that there is simply little interest.

Despite improvements in public education of special needs students nationwide, local public schools in Arizona were reportedly simply inadequate to this little girl’s needs and, according to her mother, many other area children whose parents struggle to keep them in special private schools.

Private school vouchers, once under hot debate, are again being hotly debated in a dozen or so states.

Read more in this East Valley [Phoenix] Tribune article: Vouchers for disabled students go unused.