Please note, I would never ask a therapist, teacher, ESP or doctor/nurse work during this unprecedented pandemic. However something is happening to families whose child has special needs and we have to talk about it.
We are gearing up for online learning with Bridget. Her SPED teacher sent a few video links and set up up in Google classroom.
I played the video. An immediate shut down happened. We videoed the shut down and behavior that the video of seeing her teacher caused. (I am not going to share it to protect her teacher’s privacy). It looked like this…
I sent a copy of the videos to Bridget’s SPED teacher, warning her that I am unsure how Bridget would be tomorrow for the video call but that I was sure while Abby would be there to help it would be unfair to Abby to have to deal with the behaviors the call might cause.
It took two minutes for the teacher to FaceTime me. She calmed Bridget. She made the call fun and prepared her for tomorrow.
Today could have been a difficult day. Her SPED teacher understanding that and reaching out meant the world. That she gave Bridget a task to do for tomorrow meant instead of tears I got to take this photo.
As districts lean towards online learning, that works for the GenEd student. You can put expectations on them and hold them accountable. For children like Bridget, who an iPad means Princess Sophia and not work. For a child who does not talk on the phone or does not understand how you can “see” the teacher on the phone but she is not there, the results are mixed at best.
I’m not sure what tomorrow holds.
I am thankful that although we have not heard much if anything from the District for this unexpected loop hole my daughter’s care end education has fallen through, that she has a teacher willing to take time out of her Sunday to make sure Bridget is successful.
So much has changed since the pandemic shut down our school system. Instead of hoarding toilet paper, we stocked up on Pirate Booty and PopTarts.
Instead of hanging out, we are incorporating life skills, OT, PT and SPT into all of our interactions with Bridget. The general population have been told not to “home school” but to just wait. We cannot wait. Everyday we “wait” is a day that Bridget becomes more rigid and loses a skill. It is putting responsibility on people who have no degrees in education or therapies in charge of a child who needs every expert in charge.
Today was okay, because Bridget has a teacher who cares.
Today was okay, because Bridget’s past outpatient therapists have reached out and offered ideas and strategies.
I am, for the first time in 11 years, feeling like I am parenting without much of a net. Bridget has been in therapy since she was three months old and an integrated student since she was three years old. I had a safety net, to make sure I did not screw this up.
All of that is gone.
She will not be integrated during this pandemic. She will not (as far as I have been informed) receiving any therapies. We keep being told plans are being made. She does have a teacher who is invested in making sure Bridget doesn’t regress. She has a teacher that is willing to think outside of the box.
I am hanging onto whatever lifeline is thrown in my direction.
I hope you are as well.
We have to hold on.
This pandemic has proven that the only thing our children can count on is their village. It’s proven that parents are and continue to be the most important (if untrained) teacher / therapist and advocate in our children’s lives.
It’s not like GenEd. Not to say that GenEd students are not more or less important. It is a different cohort of the school system. They can go on their ChromeBook (without assistance), they can log into Google Classroom. They can, they can, they can…
Children like Bridget cannot. She cannot turn on a computer, login a password and navigate to a site. She does not know how to make a phone call (though with Siri has learned to send me funny texts during the day). She does not understand why the day is Tuesday but she is not seeing Kelly for therapy.
One parent said to me that she reached out to her son’s SPED teacher. Her son is severely autistic and lives on his schedule. She asked the teacher, please give me his schedule so I can try to mimic something like that here.
We were told by the Special Education Director that because General Education teachers were not being educated, IDEA and FAPE do not apply. While we were not okay with that, we understood that this is an unexpected time. We did / do not want to put our children’s therapists and teachers at risk. Yet we keep waiting to be told what will be happening. Children who have severe needs, they need severe assistance in these unexpected times. Being told “there is a plan coming” is okay. For the first week.
Heading into week 3 of the no school / no therapies pandemic, the panic is real. We don’t need to be told a plan is coming.
We need to know the plan.