Adam Dayan: Advocating For Students With Special Needs

Adam Dayan: Advocating For Students With Special Needs

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers abuses of power in non-profit and religious settings. She heads up the Investigative Journalism Fund, an initiative to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting. Reach her at

Editor's Note: We are proud to share another one of The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" who is an advocate for children with special needs.

As a kid in a Sephardic family in Flatbush, Dayan thought he’d become a writer or lawyer. Eventually he decided that a writer’s life was not necessarily financially lucrative.

In college he majored in industrial/organizational psychology, thinking he’d become a psychologist. Later, he considered becoming an international businessman.

Now, Dayan combines all of his interests is his work as an attorney who focuses on children with autism and other special needs, helping their families, sometimes on a pro bono basis, obtain government benefits and schools’ often-hard-to-line-up services.

On the job, Dayan writes such lawyerly fare as briefs and appeals, and a more creative, special education-centered blog. He gets to use his knowledge of psychology in dealing with educators and the legal system. And his interest in special education advances of other countries has taken him around the world; One day, he said, he might act on his interest in business as well, maybe by becoming a consultant.

“I’ve always loved kids,” he said. “School should be easy for kids. Life should be easy for kids.”

Dayan, who is Orthodox and attended the Yeshivah of Flatbush, is an active member of the Safra Synagogue on the Upper East Side.

His interest in special education was sparked by a research project on autism while an undergraduate at Baruch College.

He traces his interest in helping society’s powerless to what he learned at home and at school.

“That’s part of your Jewish education,” he said.

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