Hey friends. Our school officially closed it doors for the Covid-19 Virus on March 16th, but my journey actually began a few weeks before the calls for social distancing started.
My kid has the worst luck. We started with a new teacher in January only to learn that the teacher was not going to finish out the semester. Meanwhile, my kid and the principal were butting heads repeatedly. There were number of issues at play. There was my own kid’s escalating behavior, there was his anxiety and disability. There was a school with antiquated notions of discipline and ableism, and now turnover My team and I decide we couldn’t have my son stay. The trauma of a bad school setting was only solidifying the behaviors at play.
At a very long and taxing IEP meeting we made the decision to put my son on Home Hospital. The idea was to phase him into a new school with a really good teacher. We didn’t put a time table on things and this is when my own panic set in.
You see, Home Hospital is only 1 hour and 30 minutes. Basically we would have kiddo’s future teacher do small tutoring sessions after regular school hours. The biggest question I had was how do fill the rest of the time? What resources are available? Do I have to give up all my volunteer work that has become as serious to me as a career. Maybe this year was the year I figure out how to organize a campaign to end the special ed cap? I freaked out because the daily responsibility of keeping my kid on a steady stable schedule was all on me. All the outside resources I wanted came with a waitlist. My entire day became don’t overwhelm him, but don’t let him get too bored. One big effort just to keep meltdowns away.
Now, it seems silly. One week into our new IEP new plan, the calls for school shut down came. We’re all in this now. We’re all scrambling and sharing and sacrificing temporary career goals. It shouldn’t be left unsaid how difficult the sacrifice can be for some. It seems less daunting now that we’re all in it, but a few weeks ago, I felt overwhelmed and even angry. It was OK to feel that way. Its OK to feel that way now as we navigate difficult waters.
Look some kids are great at learning from home. Some kids are self motivated and like to learn. My kid isn’t. It takes a small army of expert public educators and private therapist to get my kid to do simple things. My army is down to a few online foot soldiers.
There are so many resources that it can make heads spin. Still, I can’t just sit my kid in front of DreamBox and expect him to complete math. His brain doesn’t work that way. Home or at school, assignments need to be accommodated for my kid’s unique needs. There is no computer program that does that. My army includes people specifically trained to figure out how to get the best from my son. So, I wait
I wait for further instruction. I do keep a schedule, but it is very flexible. It includes things like math flashcards. My son is 10. Reviewing simple multiplication tables and simple math is good for fluency, and as long as there are snacks my kiddo is compliant. We have now phased in some reading. Not timing it. Just getting what I can out of a kid who sees learning as hard.
Not every family feels equipped for the tough times ahead. My kid is too scared to go to Occupational Therapy even though they’re seeing clients. He fears the virus. We do some therapy online. I miss the hands on help for my son’s issues. Social distancing comes natural to my son. However, I fear we may go even further backwards in social skills. I am not an expert at designing curriculum for a complex case like my son.
All this and I’m financially stable. I don’t have to worry about mortgage payments or other bills. Special needs day care is a difficult challenge as it is. In these times, I’m sure it feels downright impossible. I have the privilege of being able to be home with my kid. Schools provide so much for special needs families, and sometimes even the food for most meals. We should never underestimate the power of those teacher student relationships, as a tool for special education learning.
I’ve had a few weeks to digest the problem. I know I’m going to need guidance. I’m going to need more than a google doc of resources. I’m going to need the help of our educators. I’m going to need my friends. I’m going to go slow. I’m going to be forgiving of myself and my kid.
I’m going to need the help of my new family member
Meet Barney Link Pope. We all need some cuddles from loved ones in these tough times.