Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum During COVID-19
Parents and caregivers are not only juggling responsibilities at home and in the workplace, but have also become home-based educators and support for their children as school continues, in many settings, to be remote and virtual. For many families, more challenges are present for children with disabilities. As an older sister to a child with autism spectrum disorder, I have seen and experienced first-hand the difficulties my little brother faces as he tries to continue his learning. Besides virtual learning not being the ideal environment for my brother’s education, due to COVID-19 my brother is unable to receive necessary resources that allow him to grow and flourish, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy at optimal levels. Prior to COVID-19, these avenues were available to him. Now, they are virtual with significantly less time, or there are windows of time where these services are not being provided due to the fear of coronavirus spreading.
With the growing uncertainty of the future and managing of coronavirus, many questions and areas hang in the air including:
- When will children with disabilities be able to return to school safely?
- What practices should be implemented at home in the meantime that will ensure that they do not fall behind?
- Where does the future of education for children with disabilities lie?
- Will students with disabilities need more time to meet standards of learning?
- How can we best support teachers, families, and educators not only during this pandemic, but when schools reopen?
- What are some changes you may be noticing in your child during COVID and how can we best help them cope?
Thanks to several organizations around the globe who have education as their top priority, there are many routes and support services that make sure that families enduring these difficult times do not feel alone. Below are only some of the resources that can be found:
- Reading Rockets has several toolkits and videos here and includes evidence-based strategies for children with autism.
- The University of Houston’s College of Education has compiled resources for families of children with autism spectrum disorder during COVID-19.
- Kim Tizzard, Director of Family Support, with the Autism Resource Specialists of The Autism Society of North Carolina addresses school concerns during COVID-19.
- Autism Classroom provides distance learning resources to make learning easier for children on the spectrum.
There is much work to be done not only in finding best strategies to support children on the autism spectrum, but even more as schools reopen. The journey towards achieving quality disability-inclusive education continues. Please join the Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US) and others in supporting educators and children with disabilities everywhere. Many thanks to educators, teachers, families, and students everywhere who continue to make sure that learning does not stop.
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