Thirty-five years after federal law guaranteed students with disabilities a free and appropriate education, educating those with multiple disabilities remains a hurdle for many schools across the country.

There are 132,000 students with multiple disabilities in the nation’s schools, representing just a fraction of the millions of students enrolled in special education. But they are often the most difficult to educate, as teachers frequently struggle to balance their need to learn functional skills with academics.

Educators say it can be difficult to know how much those with multiple disabilities are comprehending. And even as these students near the end of their school days, many are still working to master basic skills like differentiating between a nickel and a quarter.

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Despite the challenges, educators say they push forward, even if the ultimate success is helping an individual learn to communicate with their caregiver, reports The New York Times. To read more click here.