special education for Autistic kids in Illinois
Personal aides for students are the unsung heroes of special education in CPS

Students diagnosed with Autism deserve the same opportunities as their peers in education. This means that they deserve the right accommodations, such as specialized instruction and support services so that they can learn flawlessly as the rest.

Meet one of the many amazing educators, Elsa Delgado, who is passionate about ensuring that her students with Autism get the education they deserve.

Every few minutes, the eighth grader gets distracted, and her aide, Elsa Delgado, gently prods her to stay focused. “Read it out loud,” Delgado tells her, encouraging her to read along with her while she writes. When her students are able to answer a question, Delgado praises their work and encourages them to continue.

Delgado Special Education

Delgado is a special education aide in the junior high program at Kelvyn Park High School, located in the Hermosa neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest side. Her daily duties involve closely monitoring and assisting her assigned students throughout the school day. While she typically works with one student year after year, this current school year presents a unique opportunity for Delgado as she is responsible for three students simultaneously.

Without people like Delgado, schools would struggle to provide quality support for special needs students. This is clear as aides are the backbone of special education services, providing one-on-one support to students, assisting with daily tasks, and helping manage behaviors.

More than 2,000 positions have been added to the school district from 2018 to 2023.

Chicago Special Education Aide Position

The major Chicago Public Schools District, has difficulty finding and filling these positions. In other words, CPS has been facing a significant challenge in filling the vacant positions of aides within their schools. In fact, as of November 1st, CPS reported that approximately 7% or around 500 aide positions were still unfilled.

This alarming number indicates that many students are not receiving the adequate support they require, and it also suggests that current aides are most likely overworked and stretched thin due to the shortage of staff.

Delgado has shared how she became an aide. She was part of the parent mentor program run by Palenque LSNA (formerly known as Logan Square Neighborhood Association), which has been providing support to teachers for almost 30 years. At that time, Delgado was a waitress and had difficulties raising her children on her own. It opened for her a world of possibilities that she never knew existed when Palenque helped her get her associate’s degree. She shared,

“I realized that I could be more than just a server. There’s hope and help out there.”

Autism Treatment

Delgado’s journey is a true testimony to the transformative power of community organizations. And just like how Palenque LSNA helped her discover new possibilities, Illinois Autism Center (IAC) is dedicated to supporting families affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our services include behavioral therapy to help children with ASD reach their full potential.