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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

COVID and University Students with Disabilities

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.

Halley Sutton has a note at Disability Compliance for Higher Education titled  "COVID‐19 disproportionately impacts students with disabilities across all sectors."  The abstract:
T he COVID‐19 pandemic has affected students with disabilities at large public research institutions more than their peers, according to a survey conducted by the Student Experience in the Research University Consortium. Researchers surveyed more than 30,000 students at nine large public universities, and the survey was administered between May and July 2020. The survey examined the impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on five areas of student well‐being: the ease of transition to remote learning, the financial impact of COVID‐19, students’ health during the pandemic, students’ feeling of belonging and engagement, and their future plans post‐COVID‐19.

“Students with physical, learning, neurodevelopmental, and cognitive disabilities were less likely to believe that they feel like they belong on campus and less likely to agree that the campus supported them during the pandemic,” the researchers wrote in the survey. In addition, survey responses indicated that students with disabilities were more likely than their peers to experience financial hardships, and food and housing insecurity during the pandemic.

In fact, the survey found that students with disabilities were three times more likely than their peers to experience food insecurity during the COVID‐19 pandemic.
Provide more resources on wellness, mental health
Other key findings from the survey include:
➤A greater percentage of students with disabilities (53–70%) experienced major depressive disorder that may be linked to the pandemic, compared to 34% of students without disabilities.
➤The survey findings indicated that the challenges students with disabilities already face in higher education are exacerbated by the conditions created by the pandemic. “Students with ADHD often express that their home environments are too distracting for them to effectively complete their homework, students with major depressive disorder are experiencing unprecedented levels of isolation and loneliness, and students with generalized anxiety disorder are encountering significantly higher levels of anxiety due to the ambiguity surrounding the pandemic and uncertainty about the future of their education,” Krista Soria, Assistant Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships for SERU, said in an email to The Daily Californian.
➤The researchers had recommendations for faculty members to support students with disabilities while teaching remotely and during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Some of these suggestions included making on‐video participation in Zoom optional, and embedding resources for students pertaining to food and nutrition, and mental health and wellness within learning management systems.

“Faculty, staff, and administrators should take a trauma‐informed approach to teaching students, working with students, and developing policies to support students this semester,” Soria said.