By Laura Newcomb
I have tears in my eyes. I’m sitting at my computer defining “Best Practices” for educating children with autism online. I know we’ll be back together again in our school buildings soon, but I am overwhelmed by the messages of concerned parents and staff – my heart is overflowing with compassion. COVID-19 has deeply impacted all of our lives.
THE CHALLENGES WITH EDUCATING STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ONLINE
Other schools are gearing up to go online and it will be new and different for everyone. However, the general population has no concept of what this means for our students and families to go online. We understand the complexities this will cause for parents with children on the Autism Spectrum. We are diligently devising best possible strategies to employ in order to deliver online instruction to students on various ends of the spectrum.
Instructions for Students Working on Basic Life Skills:
- Setting a table,
- Folding towels, and
- Making a bed.
The Special Needs and Resources for Non-Verbal Students:
- The need of AAC devices, and
- Communication resources and support.
Training teachers on Virtual Instruction:
- How to implement an online classroom,
- Familiarizing educators with new technology, and
- Accommodating special needs online.
These are not easy challenges for students with special needs. The demands of having a student with behavior challenges at home is difficult. We understand, and that’s why we aim to provide as much support as professionally possible during this crisis. My heart goes out to each of you.
LET’S REMAIN A WELL-CONNECTED COMMUNITY
Every day, my morning starts with prayer for our Autism Academy children, community and schools.
“God, please put a hedge of protection around our Autism Academy family, keep our children healthy and productive, both physically and academically.”
I have received daily phone calls, texts messages, and emails from our teachers and staff begging to return to work. Your children are greatly missed. If it were at all safe, we would all return immediately. During times like these, I realize how truly blessed we are to share such an amazing connection between educators, parents and students working together at AAED.
Here are just a few of the many comments from employees during this time:
- “I already miss them so much and wish I could welcome them into the art room and let them get lost in the creative experience, if only for 30 minutes.”
- “Praying we get back with our students as soon as possible.”
- “Can we please have half the kids come in and keep groups to 10 and under and rotate please?”
- “I miss my kids so much.”
The list goes on and on from teachers and paras expressing love and concern for our students. We all understand just how important a daily routine is for our student population and how they must be confused and wondering what is happening. We want you to know that we are faithfully continuing to pay our employees at this time, as we are hoping this will be over in a few weeks. We don’t want anyone to be without and we’re doing everything we can to eliminate anxiety. If your family needs anything and we can help, we will – please stay connected. Visit our website at www.AAED.org and our Facebook page for ongoing information and support. Do not hesitate to contact the school or your child’s teacher at any time.