In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters. And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. Providing education is proving to be very difficult.
Antwon Gibson’s public high school in Northeast Washington didn’t even attempt to teach his “independent living” class virtually this spring. The gregarious 18-year-old has an intellectual disability and reads and performs math below grade level. He’s been out of the classroom since schools closed in March and now requires more help from his family to break down multi-syllabic words.
Ayo Heinegg’s son, a rising sixth-grader in the District with dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is typically a high-performing student. But he struggled to keep up with his coursework on multiple online platforms and lost his confidence in the classroom.
And in Loudoun County, 8-year-old Theo Duran, who is autistic, struggles more to walk up the stairs or hold a crayon to write — all tasks he was making progress on before the coronavirus pandemic hit and shut down his school.
Parents across the country who have students with special education needs say the stakes are high if schools do not reopen soon. They say their children are not just falling behind academically but are missing developmental milestones and losing key skills necessary for an independent life.Resources from the Autism Society:
Resources for Back to School Adjustments
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Resources
- Back to School: Know Your Rights by the Autism Society of America
- Facebook Live Special: “Back to School: A Global Discussion on Supporting Students with Autism”
- Educating All Learners: The Autism Society is part of this alliance dedicated to equity for complex learners.
- Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools by UNICEF
- COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel by the U.S. Department of Education
Public Policy and Advocacy
- Autism Society’s Coronavirus Information Series Episode: “Preparing your IEP for Back to School” with Anne Holmes of MyHana
- Autism Society’s IEP Contact Center
- Questions and Answers to Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 by the Centers for Disease Control
- How to Handle IEPs During the Coronavirus Crisis – Expert Advice By Education Week
- COVID and IEPs: Education for Children with Special Needs by Boston Children’s Hospital
- Special Education Guidance and Resources for COVID-19 by the Connecticut Department of Education
- Legal FAQ, Remote IEP meetings and Evaluations by Understood
- Ignite Public Policy Newsletter: Information on Schools Reopening and Legislation
- Know Your Rights – a Resource by the Autism Society of America
- National Disability Rights Network’s State by State School Reopening Plan Compilation (updated every 2 weeks)
- State Advocacy Toolkit – Updated for August 2020
- Special Education Advocacy During COVID-19 by Asperger/Autism Network
- Rights of Caregivers in Hospitals during COVID by the Consortium for Citizen with Disabilities
- Civil Rights, HIPPA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Howard County Autism Society’s “Homeschooling Children with Special Education Needs: Important Considerations“
- Autism Society North Carolina’s “Addressing School Concerns During COVID-19“
- Post Secondary Transition Assistance by Autism of Society of Iowa