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Challenge: Kids with Special Needs

Affects of Covid-19 on special needs kiddos

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Life with Leoef510b9ea6086224f65559f34a93a344778c0a63.jpeg

Earlier this year, I watched my boy struggle during Recess; uncomfortable and anxious, spending a good portion of his time outdoors unable to access the playground or engage in any meaningful interactions with his peers.

Following my observation, I wrote:

“There he stood, on the outskirts of the playground, watching a group of his peers play ball.

Leo’s squeals of excitement rang through the school yard, while he looked on, transfixed by the elements before him...

Every whirl of the ball fueled his anticipation, as he pulled his little fists up close to his chest, squeezing happily with each passing throw.

I watched my boy during those moments, standing alone on the sidelines, from all appearances happy as can be...Yet, my heart broke as I silently pleaded, “toss him the ball. Please just toss him the ball.”

There is a common misconception surrounding kiddos with Autism who have challenges with interpersonal skills...That somehow their reluctance, or anxiety around others translates to not wanting to have those relationships and friendships…

That they don’t want to be apart of…

When really, often times it’s simply that they don’t know how to…

That they need help, encouragement, and guidance to learn those skills.

Inclusivity is one word that encompasses such a profoundly important and necessary practice that we must strive for in every aspect of our daily lives.

I have observed so much love and positivity towards Leo by his classmates throughout the year…

I think it’s important though, that we always remember that proximity does not equate to inclusivity, and that teaching typically developing peers how to connect, and enter the world of a person with special needs, is just as important, if not more so than teaching a kiddo like Leo to enter theirs.”

The week prior to Leo’s Spring Break, I was able to once again observe my boy during Recess, following months of discussions and debates...after strategies and goals were implemented to help Leo gain access to the playground and social opportunities in a way that would not create more stress or anxiety for my boy.

Rather than spending the majority of his time during recess attempting to escape the playground/his peers, I observed my sweet boy color with chalk alongside a peer…

His delightful smile on full display as he played on the seesaw with a friend…

A high-five reciprocated to another...


Perhaps not academic...but equally, if not more so important in our world.

We were given the news yesterday that schools in our County will not be returning until mid-April, and to be prepared for the closures to last longer than that.

At-home learning opportunities will be made available…

For kiddos like Leo, something as vital as a half an hour on the playground working on social and communication skills can simply not be replicated at home.

The closures are necessary.

But, the anxiety over regression, and what we can do as parents to tick all those boxes for our kiddos during this crisis is quite real.

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