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Supporting students with special needs during ‘distance-learning’ policies amid coronavirus outbreak

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — Faith has learning disabilities and medical issues, making ‘distance-learning’ during the coronavirus outbreak all the harder.

“It’s difficult, it’s very difficult,” says Lisa Tremblay, Faith’s mom. “If you have a special needs child, their world is all about consistency, repetition. They don’t like change.”

“We’ve been so fortunate. We’ve had wonderful special ed teachers throughout the year. I have a newfound appreciation for teachers, very much so,” says Tremblay. But 17-year-old Faith is missing those experts and also her friends at Shelton High School.

“Some of them are really struggling with this in terms of their routine being thrown off,” agrees Aaron Weintraub, director of Kids Cooperate, offering programs for children with anxiety, ADHD or autism. But, he’s seen another surprising reaction, as well. Some kids are finding unexpected benefits to this new way of learning. “Now (they’re) working from home, getting more work done, the social pressures aren’t there, the anxiety from teachers who don’t understand (their) learning style aren’t there,” says Weintraub, also a contributor to Peace At Home Parenting.

No matter what, realize we’re all working with a new hierarchy of priorities during the coronavirus crisis. “Health and safety come first, then relationships, …and then education and curriculum,” says Weintraub, suggesting parents get creative and active. “I hear a lot of parents talk about how the length of time, the structures are difficult for their children, and this is a time to re-imagine that. There’s no reason to have them sitting at a desk for six hours.”

Most importantly, Parents, take care of yourself. “I think parents of kids with special needs are struggling because their support networks are different,” says Weintraub. “Pull down your own mask first. That’s the advice the flight attendants always give you and it’s not out of some principle. It’s practical. You’re not able to care for your child unless you can care for yourself.”

Tremblay is offering her daughter support the best way she knows how. “It’s pretty much just talking. Extra hugs,” she says, adding honestly that’s she’s plagued by questions and concerns. “I’m worried that if we can’t get back this year that when she returns in August, that all the grounds we’ve made, she’ll take major steps back and what point will we begin from?”

Weintraub offers the following advice to all parents: remember that curriculum is everywhere. Plant a garden, build a skate park or find lessons while cooking in the kitchen.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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