Syracuse, N.Y. — Thomas Greene put his backpack on every morning this spring and waited.
He’d stand at the front door for hours. He’d bang on the glass to get out.
“Bus! Bus!” he’d cry every day for a month.
Finally, the kindergartner’s mother hid his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack in the closet. He stopped going to the front door.
Thomas is one of thousands of special education students for whom school is not just math and reading. It is fundamental life skills taught by teachers, therapists and aides. It is potty training, how to hold a pencil, how to recognize emotion, how to have a conversation, how to manage the frustration of being different.