Kids Who Need Special Education are Disproportionately Affected by School Closings

Of course, parents are not used to taking on the role of educator. Many are still working full time jobs at home. That, in addition to the normal household chores, leaves little room for playing teacher. While many are hopeful that summer school sessions will still open up, the future is unpredictable.

This is particularly difficult for those who have children with special needs. These kids often rely speech therapy, physical therapy, and more to progress. While parents can assist with these activities, they aren’t language pathologists or physical therapists.

It’s taken a toll, and parents are worried about their kids regression.

Lack of Routine

Many students with special needs rely on routine. When this routine its taken from them, it can be difficult for them to not only understand, but adjust.

Kym Lesch has 16 year old twins with autism who have begun to lash out due to the lack of structure. She says they don’t understand why they can’t go to school and the structure at home is not normal. They require one-on-one supervision, and one is not able to speak. Although the school has provided them technology to help get by, it has been difficult adjusting to say the least.

Angel Martinez

Angel is a 13 year old from New Jersey with autism. He’s been given occupational therapy and speech therapy exercises to do at home during the pandemic. But his father explains that even the technology associated with Zoom for his meetings with his speech therapist can be difficult. He has to be supervised to ensure he’s not only correctly logged on, but also actively participating.

Despite the efforts, his father does think he’s regressing without routine.

Ethan Raab

Middle schooler Ethan Raab lives with global apraxia and cerebral palsy. A high honors student who takes normal classes, Ethan still requires some special services for his conditions. Cerebral palsy impacts his speech and fine and gross motor skills.

Normally he has a paraeducator help him one on one during the day, weekly speech therapy and physical therapy, and monthly occupational therapy. All of these meetings occur at school.

With quarantine, the family is forced to pay 200 dollars each week just for private therapy sessions overs Zoom. Physical therapy of course isn’t that easy, and his mother must help him with the process. Despite the family efforts, they’re worried Ethan will stop making progress or regress.

Luckily, the speech and physical therapists from the school plan to start teletherapy with Ethan soon. His mother only asks, why was this not offered sooner?

The Call

Many school districts have come up with innovative solutions to provide adequate education to these students. However, without physical contact things are difficult.

Funding has also been a struggle. The 2 trillion dollar stimulus bill includes a clause that allows Betsy DeVos to ask Congress to waive the requirements for school districts to provide special services to kids who require special education during this time. We will see how this plays out this week, but educators and parents are apprehensive.

It’s become an equity issue. But hopefully, this will not last too long. In the meantime, parents are continuing to do their best to be both parent and teacher.

You can read more about this issue here.

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