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Edward’s Journey Through Special Education



Edward’s journey through special education began shortly before the pandemic hit in early 2020, during his first-grade year. At that time, we started understanding his unique learning and developmental differences. We faced several challenges after a PCS from Germany, where Edward attended school and became fluent in German. We encountered unexpected financial and logistical difficulties in a highly populated area with a high cost of living. Additionally, we experienced significant strains on our family dynamics as we adapted to the American education system with our firstborn.

Initial Challenges and Diagnoses

Early Misunderstandings

Upon enrolling in an American public school, educators attributed Edward’s delayed written language acquisition to his German schooling background. The school opted to observe and report back, but plans were significantly delayed by the unfolding pandemic.

Seeking Answers

Traditional schooling was disrupted, and online options were unsuitable due to Edward’s challenges with screen-based learning. We turned to a local private school, incurring substantial out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, long commutes and hefty fees for a therapist not covered by Tricare added to our burdens. After a protracted six-month wait, a neuropsychologist diagnosed Edward with severe dyslexia, mental health disorders, and developmental delays. The rising financial costs and the increasing toll on our family life dampened our relief at receiving a diagnosis.

Interventions and Mixed Results

Exploring Different Approaches

Edward’s intervention at the Montessori included weekly sessions with a reading specialist and attendance at a costly summer program known for supporting children with learning differences. Despite these expensive efforts, Edward’s progress was minimal. The continuous search for effective therapists—none of whom accepted Tricare—exacerbated our financial strain and impacted my ability to support my spouse in his military duties as I worked tirelessly to manage Edward’s care and our other responsibilities.

A Turning Point: Emotional Struggles and A New Beginning

The lack of appropriate support was visibly affecting Edward’s emotional health and social interactions, leading us to a crucial decision to leave Montessori. Our exhaustive search led us to a private school specializing in children with learning differences. While the school appeared promising, the daunting financial commitment further complicated our family’s stability and my financial contribution capacity.

Transformation: A New Hope and Remarkable Progress

Upon joining the specialized school, Edward experienced a profound transformation. His newfound enthusiasm for school and learning and the development of meaningful friendships have brought immense joy and a sense of achievement. However, this transformation has come with a significant financial burden, with little support from military resources, placing continued pressure on our family’s finances and my role as a supporter to my military spouse and a provider.


Navigating the special education landscape has been as financially burdensome as it has been rewarding. The support system—from psychiatric care to specialized schooling—has been crucial for Edward’s academic success and overall well-being. We have our joyful, thriving child back, for which we are profoundly grateful. Yet, this journey highlights the urgent need for more comprehensive support systems for military families facing similar challenges, especially in markets without providers and significant education costs, ensuring that no family has to choose between financial stability and the well-being of their child.

About the Author – Ginny Waller

Ginny Waller is a proud military spouse, mom of two, and business owner of a nonprofit consulting practice. Her income is dedicated entirely to covering costs related to Edward’s care, including doctors, therapists, medications, and special education needs, underscoring the need for enhanced support for families like hers within the military community.

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