10,000 NYC students are shut out of programs for children with autism. Adding 160 seats is a start.

10,000 NYC students are shut out of programs for children with autism. Adding 160 seats is a start.

New York City is expanding programs for students with autism, part of a broader pledge top Education Department officials announced Wednesday to create special education programming closer to where students live.

Beginning next school year, the city will guarantee that rising kindergartners in three local districts won’t have to leave their neighborhoods to access some of the city’s most popular programs for kids with autism.

Children with disabilities often must travel outside their neighborhoods to attend schools with smaller class sizes staffed by teachers with specialized training. Those trips can stretch over an hour each way, thanks in part to the city’s notoriously unreliable yellow bus system. Lengthy commutes can make it difficult to attend after-school programs or build friendships with children in their neighborhood who attend local schools.

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