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Emanuel’s Story

Five-year-old Emanuel has Autism. When he came to New York City with his parents from Chile, they tried to obtain appropriate special education services for him, but the process took so long that the shelter staff where the family was living recommended that Emanuel be enrolled in a general education kindergarten classroom at a nearby school. It was Emanuel’s first time in a classroom setting, and without any of the extra supports he needed, he was overwhelmed, and the school was completely unprepared to meet his needs.

Emanuel’s mom almost immediately began receiving calls from the school about her son, demanding that she pick him up early because he was disruptive and couldn’t participate in the classroom activities. One day, when school officials couldn’t calm 6-year-old Emanuel, they called 911. His mother arrived at the school just as Emanuel was being escorted into an ambulance without the company of a single adult who was familiar to him.

Staff at the family’s shelter were able to connect Emanuel’s parents with AFC, where advocates explained that Emanuel was entitled to a more appropriate and stable education. The family worked with their AFC advocate to get expedited special education evaluations and were able to secure a new school placement that was more suited to Emanuel’s needs. In a small, supportive class with staff trained to educate students on the autism spectrum, Emanuel is now safe and making progress in school.

Thank you so much for the help you have given to my son. Now, my son has started to develop and has advanced so much in a school that is better for him. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude for your support.”

Emanuel’s mother