Children with special needs struggle in remote learning amid pandemic

(NewsNation Now) — The Center for Disease Control has found the pandemic’s created major setbacks for school kids both in their education and emotional development.

Sir Ian’s spent the past year distance learning which has kept him separated from the teachers and staff so crucial to his academic success.

His autism makes those challenges even greater.

Under federal law, he’s eligible for special education services designed to help him succeed in school. This includes therapy and a little extra attention.

Those services are not always easily transferable to virtual learning, or even in-person learning with social distancing.

His mom Diana Baerga says that distance learning has expanded her role from mom to educator.

For her, the pandemic’s been a series of trial and error when it comes to figuring out how to get Sir Ian to engage in virtual learning.

“He did not understand why I was telling him you have to sit in this spot, and you have to look at this computer, and, you know, it was really hard. It really broke my heart you know, it really did,” said Baerga.

She’s transformed their kitchen into a classroom setting up the lap top that connects Sir Ian to his teachers and his lessons on the table.

Still, sometimes her efforts aren’t enough.

Baerga explained, “Routine is so important with no children with special needs. It keeps them regulated it keeps them, you know, calm, and, and when, when you have all these shifts. They just can’t, it’s too much it’s very overwhelming for them.”

Special needs children across the country are experiencing the same setbacks.

Shira Schwartz, a special education advocate, describes it as “a year lost.”

“I think you have some school teams that are really prepared and have been able to pivot and shift and make things work. Special teachers out there who are really working above and beyond. And, you know, there are also some teachers who are really struggling with navigating,” said Schwartz.

Now a year later, the challenge is those routines once again being disrupted as schools reopen. Those kids will need to adapt again as well as re-learn a lot of the skills they’ve lost.