By: Farrah Elsamaloty, B.A. and Vincent P. Culotta, Ph.D.
As COVID-19 fades and hope rebounds, it is time for parents to prepare their children to reenter the classroom. With fall quickly approaching, parents are taking the necessary steps to get their children back on track.
COVID’s toll is measured not only by case rates but also in the loss of opportunities so vital for our children with neurodevelopmental differences. Students with disabilities have borne the brunt of the pandemic in multiple ways that involve access to specialized instruction, access to related services and access to rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act. Many have lost valuable developmental or therapeutic services, multisensory learning and critical social interactions.
Each child is unique, and each disability has presented unique challenges because of the pandemic. For example, an elementary school student with dyslexia who requires a multisensory reading program has been reduced to a virtual educational experience.
A child on the autism spectrum, who thrives on frequent chances to practice and develop socialization skills, is restricted from opportunities because he or she is not in the classroom, on the playground or in aftercare programs. It is difficult to replicate meaningful social interactions through a digital medium.
For many parents, screen time restrictions were understandably abandoned, sports and peer activities ceased, adolescents struggled through rapid escalations in anxiety, and in-person psychotherapy was all but discontinued. It may take some time to truly assess the cost of COVID-19.
Nevertheless, we are all excited about getting back to in-person education this fall. The following offer some suggestions to prepare your child for a successful year:
- Closely examine your child’s IEP to ensure present levels, supports and services are up to date.
- Determine whether services missed during the pandemic can be added to the plans.
- Check to see if assessments are due; many schools have a huge backlog.
- If the school cannot complete a psychoeducational or neuropsychological assessment, consider private services and determine your eligibility for an Independent Educational Evaluation.
- If you feel your child has regressed, you have the right to ask for reassessment and your child may be eligible for an Extended Service Year (ESY).
- Sign up early for recreational sports, group activities and aftercare programs.
If you need updated neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessments or assistance in navigating the special education process, contact NeuroBehavioral Associates. Our Columbia, Maryland, practice provides comprehensive neuropsychological consultation and assessment, referral services and educational consultation for children and adolescent attention, learning or neurodevelopmental disorders.
On behalf of our staff, we wish you and your children a great year.