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Monday, August 9, 2021

Autism, COVID, and the Kindergarten Gap

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. 

Dana Goldstein and Alicia Parlapiano at NYT:
The months of closed classrooms took a toll on nearly all students, and families of all levels of income and education scrambled to help their children make up for the gaps. But the most startling declines were in neighborhoods below and just above the poverty line, where the average household income for a family of four was $35,000 or less. The drop was 28 percent larger in schools in those communities than in the rest of the country.

In the Philadelphia school district, where almost all students are from low-income families, kindergarten enrollment declined by more than a quarter between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. The drop was three times the national rate, accounting for 2,700 students.

While kindergarten is optional in many states, educators say there is no great substitute for quality, in-person kindergarten. For many students, it’s their introduction to school. They are taught to cooperate and to identify numbers and letters. They learn early phonics and number sense — the concept of bigger and smaller quantities.

And kindergarten is often where children are first diagnosed with disabilities like autism spectrum disorder.