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Navigating through special-needs education

By
  • Andrea Davis
Published
  • April 01 2012, 1:00am EDT

Ellen M.* is a 47-year-old single mom whose four-year-old son is diagnosed with something called pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified, a disorder on the autism spectrum. While he's very verbal, he sometimes struggles with expressing his needs. He has behavioral issues and several other medical issues, such as vision and gastrointestinal problems.

Ellen works fulltime in a public sector job she's held for 25 years. Her son's numerous medical and school appointments means she's away from work a lot, something her colleagues struggle with, even though she's earned the time off and is always accessible by email and phone. She uses her sick days and other accrued time off when she has to shuttle her son to and from various appointments.

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