Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Chances are you feel like you have been abandoned by everyone in this quarantine climate. Quite honestly, in some cases, that is true. Everyone, teachers, students, special education providers, work at home parents—we are all struggling to adjust. Children with special needs often have way more trouble adjusting and this is our struggle. We are going to see behaviors we thought our children had outgrown–they are going to be frustrated, we are going to be frustrated.
There is some good news. If your child is under three, under the jurisdiction of Early Intervention, due to the state of emergency that is currently in place, the Department of Health is currently allowing teleservices to help your child(ren) with continuity of services. If you have any questions about this, you can contact the NYS Department of Health. Some school districts have also begun to approve teleservices for children who receive services under CPSE (Commitee on Preschool Special Education). Finally, if your child is of school age, the schools still require a continuity of services–the same way general education has moved to an online platform, special education has as well. This is not to say that it is a perfect solution, but it is at least a step in the right direction.
So what are we as parents to do? First, talk to your children about what’s happening. Jacqueline Neber gives some good suggestions for this here. NPR has also published a nice comic explanation for children that can be found here. Understanding why there is a change in a child’s routine goes far in helping them adjust.
For parents left without services for their children (or whose children need more than can be done online), we really need to understand how we can help them. Here are a few great tools to help:
- theottoolbox.com is a great tool for all types of occupational therapy. If your child struggles with handwriting, for example, it gives easy to implement ideas to help at home. It divides activities nicely into different areas of function.
- https://mommyevolution.com/category/special-needs-parenting/ is another great resource. While definitely not scientific, it is a real life mother of children with special needs. She breaks things down in a realistic, but non-judgmental way and gives practical advice on making it through the day.
- https://www.edutopia.org/article/apps-students-special-needs-school-buildings-shutter is a great list of apps for children with special needs. As many of us work from home while raising children with special needs, often these educational apps are a lifesaver so we can work while our children learn.
Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourselves or your children. I borrowed an idea shared on social media to do with my child. This is what it is supposed to look like (as done by a friend with a typically developing child). I tried the same thing with my own child and the result was quite different.
My son naturally completed the project, took off the painter’s tape and promptly decided that the lines needed to be colored in and that he had to make a large x through the entire thing. But, at the end of the day, he did what I asked of him and he had a good time doing it. He was proud of himself. Let’s remember to be proud of our children too.