While the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone, children with disabilities are in danger of being left behind. Cerebral palsy and other childhood disabilities limit mobility, cause associated health conditions, and may even cause learning disabilities. These children need special education services, and for many, the new normal of remote learning is a very real struggle.
Missing out on In-Person Services
For children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, time in classrooms with teachers is essential. Even children not receiving special education services miss out on learning opportunities when they spend every day at home in front of a computer. But for many children, certain skills can only be learned in person.
Many kids with cerebral palsy, for instance, have mobility issues, speech difficulties, and limited hearing and vision. They normally receive special education services that require hands-on learning, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language therapy. If a child’s school has gone entirely virtual, they risk falling behind in many ways.
Even many academic skills are difficult for special needs students to learn without a teacher in a classroom. Fine motor skills, like being able to hold a pencil and trace letters, require hands-on instruction and guidance.
Behavioral Challenges of Virtual Learning
Some children with cerebral palsy and other conditions struggle with emotional and behavioral challenges that make in-home learning difficult. They may not be able to sit still at a computer for as long as other children or they may struggle to follow instructions from a parent.
In a school setting, trained special education professionals work with these children to overcome behavioral challenges. Many parents worry that they cannot provide the same level of care and that their children’s behaviors will worsen as school shutdowns continue.
Parents Take Legal Action
While many schools are doing their best to provide services to all students, some parents feel their districts are not meeting their children’s needs. They believe that education has become unequal. Students with conditions like cerebral palsy, they say, are getting left behind.
Some parents have taken legal actions to ensure their children continue to get an appropriate and equal education. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, two families began a lawsuit against the government claiming that the online learning options fail to meet the needs of their children on the autism spectrum.
What Can Parents Do?
Legal action may seem like a drastic step, but all children are entitled to a free and appropriate education under federal law. For some kids, that means being with a teacher in the classroom. While other students can adapt to online learning, many disabled students cannot. If schools are not providing the appropriate education, they could be held accountable.
If your child is not receiving adequate services, talk to your school district administrators. Get together with other parents to pressure the schools to provide services. And, if you cannot get what you need for your child, consider taking legal action.