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Worries about kids with special education needs this year

With so much uncertainty about the school year due to COVID-19, parents of kids with disabilities have many concerns.

SCRANTON, Pa. — With so much uncertainty about the school year, parents of kids with disabilities have special concerns.

Whether students are heading back into the classroom, homeschooling, or cyber school, parents said say they are stressed.

"We're the parents, and we know our children the best, but at the same time we're not professionals, we're not teachers, we're not therapists, and a lot of parents are working, and they're taking care of multiple children, or elderly parents, all different aspects and they need to have time to plan and make arrangements as well so all this is really hanging over the heads of families right now."

Roseann Polishan is a mom of three from Scranton and a child advocate. Her teenage son has learning disabilities and autism.

"It was a big struggle for him back in the spring. He is someone who needs someone with him and prompting him and helping him pretty much every aspect of his life, so it's a big concern to figure out how he can have his education."

Polishan said if you have not already, you need to contact your school district about getting your children with special needs support if they are learning from home this year, and if that is not enough, reach out to an advocate.

"I think it's really important to think outside the box and get a little creative here and school districts instead of saying we can't do this, or this is not going to work, how can you make it work? So parents, don't be afraid to call a meeting with your IEP team and put those options on the table."

No matter how your child is learning this year, from home or inside a school classroom, Polishan said there will be major changes and you will have to prepare them for the adjustment.

"Parents need to prepare their kids what that's going to look like, working on wearing a mask social distancing, what the school may look like differently. They need to prepare all their kids whether they're special education or not for this new environment in schooling," said Polishan.

You can email Polishan at rpolishan@thearcofnepa.org with more questions, reach out to The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network or Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center for help.