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Let's All Eat Cake

Students with special needs who are sheltering-in-place with their families during this coronavirus outbreak are having a tough time. Routines have been disrupted. Services received at school have been halted. Friendly faces of teachers, aides, and fellow classmates are a distant memory. It's a sad situation for many kids with special needs.

Imagine the difficult task faced by teachers of special education students. Each one has an IEP. Every single student has unique needs. None learns in the same way. And these teachers have been trying to figure out exactly how to reach their students online. It's a tough role for any teacher, let alone special ed teachers.

My son's birthday falls just before school is out for summer, but he's always been able to celebrate with his class. This year, that didn't happen. I was sad for him. Knowing we could not go anywhere for his birthday and that he'd miss that school celebration, I went all out with decorations and presents. I tried getting in touch with some local bakeries that I knew made gluten and dairy free treats. But alas, many were closed or simply overwhelmed with orders; I was too late.

You can imagine our surprise when the doorbell rang late morning on my son's birthday. There, standing on my porch, was my son's teacher. He was holding a cake and a present. To know he remembered my son's birthday and made the effort to go find him a GF and DF cake absolutely warmed my heart. How did we get so lucky?

When people say special ed teachers aren't "doing anything right now" or that they "can't connect with their students remotely," I say, they're doing more right now. Some are connecting with their kiddos remotely, and even if just one tunes in to watch the youtube video they made that day, that's one kid whose life was touched that day by his teacher.

I'll always be grateful to my son's teacher for thinking of him on his birthday, and for making a daily effort to reach out to every student in his class. Even though the kids can't see him in person right now, they know he's there and are hearing his words of encouragement.

What is distance learning like for your child with special needs? What issues are you encountering? Is the IEP being supported while your child is at home? Let us know what you think.


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