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Kendall’s Story

kendall school photo, kendall in costume

Kendall, a student with autism, was referred to AFC when his mother needed assistance securing a high school placement that would meet his needs. Kendall began receiving Early Intervention services for developmental delays when he was three months old and attended public special education schools from pre-K through eighth grade. Kendall struggles with social skills, is highly sensitive to sensory stimuli, and needs significant instructional support to stay focused in class. When it came time to transition to ninth grade, however, the Department of Education (DOE) eliminated his full-time paraprofessional and offered an inappropriate school placement in a large, over-stimulating building.

With the assistance of AFC and our pro bono partners (first at Arnold & Porter LLP and later at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and CBS), Kendall’s mother enrolled him at the Cooke Center, a private special education school that could provide small, highly structured classes, an appropriate balance of academic and life skills instruction, and a paraprofessional to help him stay on task. Kendall made enormous progress at Cooke over the past four years, improving his academic and social skills, gaining independence, and thriving in the school’s drama program. This year, he starred as Scar in the production of a play based on the Lion King (pictured in costume above), and he was able to go through the school day on his own, without the assistance of an aide, for the first time in his academic career! Kendall graduated from Cooke’s high school in spring 2015, and with AFC’s continued assistance, is beginning the transition to adulthood in Cooke’s SKILLs (Skills and Knowledge for Independent Learning and Living) program, which helps young adults with disabilities build independent living and vocational skills.