Remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for most students, but especially for those with disabilities. Local 22/44 spoke with special educators at Peru Central School District to find out more.
Shannon Rabideau oversees around 400 students with disabilities as the director of student services at Peru Centra. “We have the barrier of remote instruction and then perhaps the barrier of some learning difficulties and so they have two barriers to overcome rather than just the one,” Rabideau said.
Each student with a disability has an IEP or an individual education plan. Special education teacher Jennifer Labonbard explained that, while they didn’t make new IEP’s for remote learning this past spring, they did have to adjust them.
“We did a big combination of paper based materials and then technology based materials,” said Labonbard.
Aside from learning things like Math and English, students with disabilities typically receive therapy or speech therapy. Speech language pathologist Stephanie Storms found many creative ways to continue helping her students.
“I created a YouTube channel, I did a few read aloud, I did an articulation with minimal pairs and cards,” said Storms.
Luckily Storms was also able to do tele-therapy with her students, but she says it is not the same as face to face communication and she worries for the fall.
“I would make it work but I think optimally we need to be back in the school,” said Storms
Among Storms speech students is 8-year-old Leah McCkinnon, who said she misses being with her teachers. “I miss her face in real life and her hugs having fun all the time with her,” said McCkinnon.
Leah’s mom Sheena Dabuke said she’s grateful for the efforts her teachers have put in, but it’s been tough trying to help her daughter and have a full time job herself.
“It’s hard to do everything and then have time to do the remote leaning especially for someone who has a little bit of trouble,” said Dabuke.
Special education teachers and students are hoping to be back to the classroom in the fall. Teachers say they have had to work as a team with students’ families.
Whether it be virtual or in the classroom special educators say they will do what they can to make sure their students get what they need.