Single Mother struggles to adapt to public-school shutdown

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Single mother Lisa W. struggles to adapt to the public-school shutdown as her special needs daughter is deprived of a necessary education. 

Lisa’s daughter Yonnie suffers from cerebral palsy and uses an alternative communication device at home. Yonnie receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy from her school. Lisa relies on the school system to feed her daughter lunch and help teach her daughter while she is at work. 

When Yonnie’s schedule is disrupted, she has a tendency to throw a fit. Since the fits are physical in nature, it can be dangerous for her. 

“Yonnie was very regimented,” Lisa said. “She likes to go to school. She knows when the bus is coming. It’s very hard when you have a kid who is very rigid. She didn’t have the capacity to understand why she could no longer go to school.” 

Joseph B., a special needs child who does not attend school but receives full time in- home therapy, was also affected. According to his mom, Felicia, Indiana’s COVID shutdown denied Joseph access to all of his therapists because they were not allowed to come. 

“Joseph has a tendency to regress and lose skills unless they are repeatedly worked on,” Felicia said. 

Yonnie’s lack of education from the school also led to a decrease in her other skills. Her skills regressed in her therapy areas. When the school moved online, it appeared to solve the education problem. However, Lisa had expressed her frustrations with the new online development. 

“It’s negatively impacted her education in that she has definitely not been learning as much as she should have in the classroom,” Lisa said. “She has not benefited from what she could be getting.” 

“E-learning was ineffective with my kids,” Lisa said. “Yonnie never adapted to E-learning. With a special needs child, they have an IEP that the teachers work on. You don’t just set them in front of a computer and say ‘okay, learn.’” An IEP is an Individualized Education Program that is used in the school for special needs students. 

Lisa was concerned with the health danger with E-learning for Yonnie. “The computer can cause seizures for her,” Lisa said. “Exposure to electronics is not good for her health. She has had an increase in seizures.” Yonnie has required hospitalization for seizures. 

Lisa commented that this development has had negative effects. As a single mother, she stated that she cannot monitor her children’s education while remaining the breadwinner for her family. 

Covid brought fast change to the schooling of special needs students. When in-person education stopped, so did therapy for disabled children. Covid did not care that severely disabled children need a special education. 

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