While everyone is going through difficult times, I really believe that families with a child who has an NVLD or similar disability are facing more difficulties. Since these students face many challenges in normal times.
First is needing to wear a mask to be safe is challenging as many experience fine motor and communication difficulties. In the beginning, I experienced my own struggles. So hearing the stories about how this requirement has brought extra challenges such as having it on all day and difficulty being understood makes total sense to me. Yes, others are facing difficulties wearing a mask too but, for this population, the struggle is real and for the more severe population who may not understand it is even harder.
Another difficulty is the limited opportunities for social interactions. Having fewer school and community programs accessible really has a negative impact since many of these children learn through experiences. As a result, many are keeping to themselves as it is easier on them and thus they are missing out on gaining or maintaining friendships. Besides inability to create friendships, keeping more isolated also limits opportunities for students to be mentored as most of your time is spent with family.
The next is the difficulty brought on by COVID is geared towards the junior and seniors though is very real. Many of the comprehensive support programs on college campuses are expressing concerns that they may be removed or be cut in half. This is not surprising as going remote takes away many parts of these programs missions and goals. This is discouraging as having these programs allows many with an NVLD to have traditional college experiences. As a result, it is sad to think these programs could disappear if things take too long to get back to normal.
The one difficulty that is forgotten in all of this is the struggle everyone is having with all the changes to daily schedules. Due to their anxiety, even the smallest change like different practice time or change of test date can be very stressful. Being asked to adapt in a short amount of time can bring an increase of meltdowns and add to their daily worries. For example, students are doing their best to focus on their in-school education and then a COVID outbreak occurs and their school shuts down throwing them into a state of high anxiety as this is a major change to their daily routine.
Overall, if you are facing more challenges during these strange times, understand you aren’t alone and you will get through this. To the teachers who see this, I strongly encourage you to give these students extra empathy during these stressful times and understand it brings more challenges to them. For now, the most important thing is that we remain hopeful that things will go back to normal sooner rather than later and remain supportive during these challenging times.
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