I am writing in response to the Aug. 7 article "Neighbors aim to trip up Giant Steps expansion plan” that was published in the Fairfield Citizen. It is difficult to read such an inaccurate account of Giant Steps School and its devoted staff. My daughter had the privilege of graduating from Giant Steps and she flourished as a result of the expertise and compassion of the outstanding staff that work at the school.

Under the direction of Kathy Roberts, Giant Steps is a cutting-edge school that educates children with a variety of complex disabilities who would not succeed in a public school setting. Kathy is a selfless woman who has extensive knowledge of both current practices and research in the area of autism and related disabilities and has spent the last thirty years advocating for her own daughter in addition to other children with disabilities. She created Giant Steps and mentors the staff who are an invaluable resource for the students and families who attend the school and those who reside in the community and beyond.

Currently, there is a lack of meaningful programs for young adults and the plan is to renovate the vacant building on the property and to develop an unrivaled, technologically advanced facility that would enhance the lives of these deserving young men and women. It would not be a "business" as inaccurately labeled in the article, but a state-of-the-art center for continued learning and vocation that will serve as a model nation wide. Fairfield would be fortunate to host such a groundbreaking endeavor.

For the record, I would like to state emphatically that the article in your paper is offensive, loaded with inaccuracies and libelous on many levels. Such disparaging comments written about Giant Steps and the staff are mean spirited, extremely callous and hurtful. I volunteered at the school for 11 years and only one neighbor complained about the traffic and the issue was immediately addressed.

Even more deplorable is the reference to our children as "these type of people," which reveals ignorance and apathy that is hard to believe still exists today. Having a child with special needs, I am keenly aware of the discomfort people have with our children. Sadly, my daughter and I are reminded of it all the time in less than subtle ways. The neighbors' complaints of rude, cigarette butt throwing drivers and plummeting property values is a veiled way of saying "not in my back yard.”

As a nation with a growing number of children being born with disabilities every day, we all have a responsibility to ensure that each and every one of our children has the freedom to thrive as young adults and beyond. They have the right to be in all of our backyards and in this case specifically they belong at 309 Barberry Road, Southport, CT.

Elaine MacKenzie

New Canaan