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Although Kate Gosselin's divorce and estranged relationship from ex Jon Gosselin have been very public for years, Kate and her children have been quietly struggling with a more private issue—Collin Gosselin's special needs.

In the this week's issue of People magazine, Kate opens up about her 12-year-old son and the private problems she and her kids have been working to handle over the past few years. Collin is away at a program designed to help him gain better "life skills," so he can learn to handle his "educational and social challenges," which Kate has discussed in the past, more easily.

"Collin has special needs," Kate tells the magazine. "[There's a fairly fluid diagnosis of what those needs are, but he needs to learn certain strategies to help him deal with things. This has been a struggle we've had for a very long time, and it's one I've dealt with on my own. I've felt very alone in this."

Kate Gosselin, Collin Gosselin

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Kate doesn't disclose her son's diagnosis out of respect for his privacy, but she does say that everyone in her family has been affected by Collin's special needs. "By the same token, it's not something that has only impacted me or him—our entire family has been impacted," the reality TV mom explains. "When you have a child with special needs, everyone is affected."

After realizing Collin's needs, Kate pulled her son out of the same school as his siblings in order for him to receive more specialized care—a change which helped smooth the transition for his siblings. "Over the past year or so, Collin had such a different schedule—different schooling, different therapies, his own room—that his leaving wasn't like one day he was sharing a room and on the bus with them and then suddenly he wasn't," Kate says.

Although Kate says there is "a huge hole in our family without [Collin]" around, she and her other kids are happy to see their brother and son getting the help he needs. "It comforts us to know he's where he needs to be right now," she shares.

"I feel like I've made an investment in Collin's' future. To know he's somewhere that's helping him reach his very best potential has been a relief in many ways."