In the fall of 2020, as my son and his neighborhood friends started to trickle back out into the world, my daughter, Izzy, stayed home. At the time, Izzy was 3 years old, ripe for the natural learning that comes from being with other kids. I knew by the way she hummed and flapped her hands around children at the playground—and by her frustration with me at home—that she yearned to be among them.
The question of where Izzy would attend school had been vexing me for two years. Izzy had been a happy infant, but she was small for her age and missed every developmental milestone. When she was eight months old, my husband and I learned that she had been born with a rare genetic disorder and would grow up with a range of intellectual and physical disabilities. Doctors were wary of giving us a prognosis; the families