Distance Learning with an IEP

I am SO frustrated about so many things right now. I will try to focus on just one of them, so that this post doesn’t turn into a giant, unhinged rant.

One of the very frustrating aspects of COVID has been the lack of attention given to students with special needs. This quote from the article pretty much says it all:

“I think districts were completely consumed with what to do with the majority of their kids,” Malone says. “And I think special [education] is the harder one to tackle. And I think they left it to last. And it was a mistake.”

The school has been trying to spin distance learning like everything is fine. You work from home? No problem! Your children need to learn to work independently anyway, so just plug them into their computers and walk away!

But what the schools don’t say to the parents of kids with IEPs is this: If you had a child who needed an aide to help him/her focus in a live classroom (which is MUCH easier than focusing online by the way), “Well, guess what? Parents – you’re the aides now! Hooray!!”

And wait, it gets better! If your child was able to control their challenging behaviors at school but is unable to do so at home (and such behaviors are also magnified due to the stress of the new ‘routine’), you parents have several fun choices available to you – feel free to mix and match!

  • Spend large amounts of time and effort coming up with strategies to manage the behaviors;
  • Let the meltdowns happen but mute your child’s Zoom (or of course the teacher can just mute on her end);
  • Allow avoidance behaviors and let your child fail a grade just to prove a point about how much support they needed and weren’t getting.

The thing that makes all of these choices SUPER FUN is that no teacher or staff member will have to hear, see, or deal with any of your child’s behaviors in any way! And if you bring it up, they can just blame it on your horrible parenting since the kids never had the problem at school!

Law-Mom: Hi Econ-Mom. I wish I had something better to say than just “I’m sorry.” Though, I am.

Have you talked about any of this with your children’s teachers? Were they actually that dismissive of you? I sure hope not! But if so, you have every right to feel frustrated and angry.

Econ-Mom: I honestly haven’t talked a lot about it, partly because I’m not sure what to ask for. Normally, if you are fighting for more support you’re asking for more aide hours, but more special ed support now means more zoom meetings, and I really can’t see how that would be helpful!! We did mention to Peanut’s teacher that he sometimes walks away from the screen and asked for advice, and she just seemed surprised and said something like “I don’t know, none of my students did that in the spring.”

DH and I finally sat down and had a big discussion about all this yesterday (after I wrote this rant), and we determined that we should both do less micro-managing of our children – so at the very least we can work on our own reactions to the situations, and try not to be “on 11” with every single thing! My personality really doesn’t lend itself to this situation since I naturally want to hover by them and make sure they’re doing things correctly. That is one thing that is at least somewhat in my control though! 🙂

I should also add that my children are not struggling that much compared to many kids with IEPs. It’s just frustrating how little attention the schools give to this issue. I just saw another mom online in an autism group this morning asking if she could collect unemployment if she quit her job to take care of her son, since his school was too complicated for a daycare to handle. Sigh.

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