The Hiram G. Andres Center near Johnstown, PA, USA
COVID-19 Series, Education

Concentrating on COVID: Back In School

It has been a while since I have been in any type of educational setting. One thing throughout my years of education is the predictability. Many autistics thrive on this and if this in any way is not modified without prior notice. This traditionally results in either meltdown or shutdown. Four and a half months ago, COVID-19, schools (and many other services) servicing autistics were for the most part modified. This included the ability of service providers being allowed to enter the home and sessions being conducted online or via telephone.

According to recent searches, 81 Percent of Americans have Internet Access, however 83 % of Americans can access the Internet without a device. One third of Public-School Systems across the US provide mobile devices for their students. Many of the areas without the capability to do so lack Broadband Internet Access in their school buildings, let alone the students’ families’ which in many cases are not equipped with the technological needs to complete assignments.

My local school district the school year prior implemented Google Chromebooks for all students in the district, of which has a high percentage of low-income residents and several with limited or no Internet access.  As a result, the two broadband providers in the district installed wireless hotspots at locations that had a plethora of parking.

And while this is what happened in my district, no two districts are the same, some did drive-up special education, some did packet pickup, which then results in transportation issues. The whole thing is complex.

While many autistics are inept to technology, often it can be frustrating, and the complexities of group learning sessions can be cumbersome and do not provide the ability to conduct soft skills and social graces that young autistics desperately need in this trying time.

As many autistic children experience symptoms of anxiety, the learning environment will also be cumbersome with additional rules (some may like, and some may not) the inability to be less restricted, different rules regarding the consumption of food, bus rules and so much more.

Our government leaders are elected to serve our people, it should be their mission to serve the people they elected. Therefore, first and foremost all options for learning for all should be made available to them.  We must fight for the needs of everyone as there is not one opinion with COVID-19 that everyone can agree on.

Nonetheless, no one knows their autistic children other than the ones that care for them. Therefore, you need to educate yourself on what your children’s school’s protocol and plan is for addressing the upcoming school year. If media is available for the child to watch by the school about the return, if they comprehend it, then have them or explain to them what is going to happen like anything new. If you can and they do not feel comfortable or you as the caregiver do not feel comfortable, then by all means seek a virtual or any other available option. Do what is best for your child!

Good Luck! �N�”@

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