Advocates push for more local special needs resources


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With more than a year of switching between virtual and hybrid learning models, advocates say there is a group that often gets overlooked.

Advocacy and learning centers, like the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism, say a lot of children with special needs are facing neglect and regression. Apart from needing in-person interaction for therapy and learning, the center’s director said there are not a lot of local resources. Their program is the only one of its kind in Southeast Georgia.

School Director Jack O’Connor said the center is filled at capacity right now with about 30 students and many more on a waiting list.

“We had a lot of families reaching out to us to see if we had availability in our school program and unfortunately we’re at capacity. The solutions that are out there are try to meet the needs of as many people as possible, but unfortunately the students and families we work with are kind of left on the outside of that,” O’Connor explained.

State data shows there are around 70,000 special needs children in Georgia. O’Connor said the center works as an advocate for local families to help get funding and resources to those in need; that’s with them operating on a 15 percent budget reduction from recent state and federal budget cuts.

He said there needs to be more accessible resources for special interest groups in the Coastal Empire.

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