CINCINNATI (WKRC) – It’s been a challenging couple of months for families who have students with special needs.
The pandemic has created many changes as they head back to school, and some parents think their kids, who need extra, help will fall behind.
The uncertainty of what the new school year will look like has Nicole White on edge. She's a mom of two kids with special needs.
“I just know that with COVID-19, I feel like people with disabilities have been greatly silenced,” said White.
White's daughter has Down syndrome and her son has autism. She said virtual learning last spring was exhausting.
“She has a very short attention span. When she’s looking into a Zoom class or a video online, she doesn't want to engage. She just wants to make faces at herself,” she said.
White was disappointed when school surveys didn't include questions about students with disabilities. Her son and daughter benefit from in-school therapies and specialized services.
Being in a classroom just a couple days a week will make it more challenging to meet their extra needs.
“My children need to be in school. They need to have that hand-over-hand model. I don’t care if it’s only two days a week; it has to be something,” said White.
On the other hand, Lisa McCoon chose to start her sons on the virtual plan. One suffers from complex medical issues.
“He can’t be around anyone that could be sick,” said McCoon.
The other has a mental health disorder.
“He’s been making lists since April about all of the things that he is worried about going back into school,” she said.
She knows this isn't the right option, but it's the best option for her family.
“He needs a lot of therapy to be able to be in school, and we really wanted to keep it consistent for him. Change is extremely hard for him,” she said.
Kristin Hildebrant is senior attorney with Disability Rights Ohio.
She said communication is key and wants parents to know they have the ability to get compensatory education.
“It makes up for services the child should have been receiving but didn't for one reason or another,” said Hildebrant.
She said parents need to keep track of the services their kids are getting.
“They need to be good about collecting data what their child is or isn't doing or is or isn't receiving,” she said.
Parents can find resources from Disability Rights Ohio here.