We do our best. We struggled for years to get the public school system to provide our daughter with the educational and emotional support she needs to be successful. It became clear that the system was no longer capable of providing that kind of accommodation for children with special needs. Our daughter has autism. She is clever and kind. She is also eager to learn. However, she needs accommodations to enable her to succeed. We spent many hours out of many days trying to find an appropriate educational setting for her that we could afford. We learned about a couple of state grants that would cover part of the tuition at schools that were designed specifically for kids like her. Even though it meant that we would need to start using our future retirement money to pay remaining tuition each year, we decided that we had to do what was best for our child.
These types of schools are expensive. They must be by necessity. The teachers must be of the highest caliber and trained to offer the most supportive experience possible to kids with a wide spectrum of needs. The state paid $7,000 per year and we paid the difference of $17,000 each year out of our IRA for three years of middle school. She is in high school now and we were able to secure a second grant that covers an additional $9,000 per year. However, high school tuition is even more expensive than the middle school. After the $17,000 grants, we still must pay an additional $13,000 each year to cover the fees. This expense, combined with the high cost of mental health therapies, have completely depleted all our retirement and reserve savings. Most mental health professionals in this field are private pay only which means that they do not take insurance. Typical rates for these professionals’ average about $250 per hour.
Our beautiful, sweet daughter is thriving in school since we left the public system. We also have a college-age neuro-typical daughter. She had a great public-school experience. I mention this because we are supporters of public education. But the public system is not adequately funded nor are they free of institutional constraints that allow them to provide the appropriate support needed by a neuro-atypical child. Our daughter deserves the experience and opportunities provided by her current school. She has two years remaining before she graduates. However, our funds to continue paying the balance are depleted. The pandemic limited our ability to earn the income needed to replenish our savings. In fact, we are now in debt. But that is not our daughter’s fault. She deserves the happiness and success she can only find at a school that “gets her.” They make her feel safe, loved, and appreciated. It is those conditions that allow her to thrive.
Please help us make sure that she can continue to receive the educational support she needs. She is with her friends that, as she says, “accept her just the way she is.” Whatever amount you can give would help make this happen. Every dollar toward keeping her in this school will make a bigger difference in her life and in our lives than you can imagine.
Thank you to anyone who answers this plea. I believe in the power of our shared humanity. I have faith that if enough people see this request, our daughter will be OK. She will be able to live to her highest potential thanks to all who are moved to help.