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Help for children with learning disabilities during this pandemic



A parent of a child with disabilities shares strategies

A parent of a child with disabilities shares strategies


As we hear news of several successful Covid-19 vaccines on the horizon, we begin to think even more of “the after times.” The exact date of this “post-Covid-19 era” is still uncertain (a year? 18 months?), but happily, the light at the end of the tunnel does flicker brighter.

The people who will be remembered for rising to the challenges to help others – particularly the learning disabled – are in the thick of it now

They’re not getting too caught up in thoughts of “the after times,” because they are too busy, doing the day-in, day-out, labor intensive work. Popsugar writer and mom Sarah Muoio, whose son is learning-disabled, is one of those people. Her adjustments in this unprecedented time are more extensive than most.

Her son is a 4-year brain tumor and stroke survivor who currently battles epilepsy and partial paralysis of the entire right side of his body. He is an avid, energetic learner. 

Muoio opted to take him out of school, in large part due to his medical condition, which makes him a high risk kid. Nevertheless, they are getting it done, learning as they go, like all of us. And, as with many helpers, Muoio is eager to share resources that have helped her help her son. Her operative word is proactive.

READ MORE: 10 resource links for parents of children with special needs

She writes: “Using a proactive approach helps guide [my son] through this new way of learning. By showing up prepared with the tools that help him learn best, we've already overcome half the distance learning battle with a student who struggles with a disability.”

One of her strategies is to enlist a behavioral therapist to help her son deal with the feelings of sadness, disappointment, and loneliness he experiences when, via zoom, he sees the kids in his class together in school. As she puts it, the therapist helps him “dissect what he's feeling and identify ways to overcome those feelings, emotional coping strategies that are vital to his success.”

The most imminently do-able tactic Muoio offers is “an organized, dedicated workplace.” After going with the flow in the early days of lockdown last spring, she and her husband got to work. 

“We spruced up our basement to make him a dedicated workspace where he could find success,” she writes. “We gave the room a fresh coat of paint, picking a pale yellow to boost his mood and a calming gray to keep him grounded. 

We set up a work desk in front of a mounted TV that hooks up to his Chromebook, preventing him from straining his eyes on long days in front of the computer. Finally, we added a calming corner where he could read, take a break, or just sit and relax if he's having a rough time.” She maintains this in particular has been “a game-changer.”

Muoio also stresses flexibility and patience. 

Now, with some perspective, she looks back and sees how knowing when to push, when to ease up, and when to let go are key to everyone’s well being. These different responses were unknowable last spring. Like all of us, she’s learned a lot since then. And lucky for us, she’s eager to share.



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