I could be glib and suggest that any effort to communicate across special needs is a form of distance learning.
But Special Education presents challenges in the best of times, and even more with the school closures due to Covid-19.
Our local news aired a good feature on this. It gets beyond lamenting the hardship to show some of the creative efforts to keep Special Ed going over distance. The needed collaboration of family and school comes into focus, and maybe that’s one of the silver linings of our Covid-19 cloud. As one Sioux Falls teacher explains,
For my students who are more significantly impacted and have those significant disabilities, a lot of the time the parents are the ones working one on one with their child doing the things that I have assigned, but they’re really the ones that are really providing those interventions, through my specialized instruction that I’m providing them and the tools that I’m giving them.
It’s all individualized based on what the family needs, for what is working for their family, and where families are at. So if families are feeling overwhelmed and their focusing on the mental and physical health of their family, then that’s what I’m stressing, first and foremost, before anything academic.
I think it safe to say that family caregivers are always essential personnel, albeit unpaid and unable to be laid off even if we wanted a furlough (which some days sounds super attractive).
The news segment reports the painful reality that sometimes the family caregiver is the only one on the job. As one disability rights advocate relates,
We’ve represented a couple families who have had issues with schools not providing services, not providing the related services like speech and physical therapy and occupational therapy, and so we’ve worked with the parent and the school to create a dialogue and support the parent, so that the school understood their responsibilities to provide services.
I’ve shared here that we are empty nest, with the school days behind us. But hearing reports like this one lights up the old feelings, and our hearts go out to families still on that leg of the care giving journey.
Keep at it. Even with the gaps and failures, personal or public, you’re the best resource to those in your care.