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Back to School: Resources for Parents of Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — August 31, 2020 — 4 min read
Latino families face many barriers to online learning. These include language, lack of equipment and resources, working parents, or limited space. Everyone is adapting to changes caused by the pandemic. Children with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) also face challenges in accessing the schooling and services they are used to.

Find resources and tools to help your child with disabilities get the guidance and support they need. You can also read this article in Spanish.

North Carolina Back-to-School Plan

Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina schools will begin classes under Plan B. This involves face-to-face and online learning. School districts will choose the option they consider safest for their students.

More information on school reopening can also be found in the virtual town hall of the North Carolina Parents and Teachers Association (NCPTA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

What You Should Know About Special Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic

All school districts in the state must comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and continue with their Individual Education Plan (IEP). You can review the U.S. Department of Education’s Q&A guide on services for children with disabilities.
It’s important for you to know that school districts must have special education teachers to modify lessons and meet the needs of each student online, by video conference, or by phone. Modifications may include:
  • More time to complete tasks
  • Videos with subtitles or sign language
  • Accessible reading materials
  • Related services, such as online speech therapy and counseling
  • Exceptional Children (EC) teachers supporting lessons on live video
  • EC teachers providing additional instruction to support your child individually. This could include watching pre-recorded videos and answering questions, reading, finishing worksheets, or assisting with homework.

Meet Your Child’s Teachers

It is vital to maintain contact and get to know your child’s special education teachers or EC directors. To achieve this, you can access the North Carolina EC directors email guide. You can also read some tips for maintaining parent-teacher communication.

Get Familiar with Your Child’s Special Education Plan

Find out how your child will receive the services in their IEP. This can help you develop a plan at home. The Return to School Planning Guide by STEP can also help you prepare for meetings, ask the right questions and monitor your child’s progress. It’s also key that you learn how to use tools like Zoom and Google Classroom.

Access to Computer, Internet and Translations

If you do not have a computer or internet service, you can contact your school district for help and information on public “hot spots.” Some school districts will provide students with Chromebooks. For internet connection, companies like Comcast and Spectrum are offering discounted internet plans for low-income families. And always remember that you can ask for translations of all notices, updates, and other relevant material. Most schools have interpreters.

How to Support Your Child with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

It is normal to feel stressed during a time of constant change. Getting used to this new way of life will take time. Remember that you are not alone. Here are some ways to prepare for school, support your child’s learning from home and meet their needs:
  • Learn all you can about your child's disability, know your rights, and research about available services. The Child Mind Institute’s Parents Guide to Getting Good Care explains how to find the most appropriate and effective care for your child. The Center for Parent Information and Resources offers this guide.
  • Ask teachers or health professionals about ways to reinforce your child's learning and skills at home. This could include complementary activities or setting daily routines. Remember that order and consistency are key to success, but flexibility is also important. This Child Mind Institute article offers some activities for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and a list of online academic resources.  The IRIS Center’s resource page offers tips on how to support your child’s learning process.
  • Reach out to other parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to share advice and emotional support.
  • Be mindful of your mental health. Your well-being is a priority to support your child. Remember to take care of yourself and take control of your emotions. This guide from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains how to help children cope with the stress of COVID-19. Also, our self-care guide and step calendar contain some ideas for activities to protect your mental health and maintain a healthy routine. You can also find mental health training and resources for the Latino community on our website.
  • Contact your providers for information about telehealth services, such as support groups and online therapy. And don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. 
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