School closures especially hard for parents of kids with special needs

John is an eight year old with cerebral palsy and autism. At school, he works one-on-one with an aid all day. But, like so many other kids with disabilities, the closing of schools means John doesn’t get the daily services he depends on. Neither do his brother and sister — each with different needs.

“I have a typical 6 year old and then a 3 year old who’s also preschool disabled. So it’s difficult to try and teach these three kids and also maintain work and some sense of normalcy in their lives,” said mother Regina Tully.

A speech therapist herself, Regina is working remotely while schools are closed. She says most days her family is in “survival mode.” And while she’s getting remote support from John’s teachers, she now has to be the physical support that he requires.

When reached out to about how it’s handling supporting this vulnerable population, the Department of Education said: “Teachers know their students the best, and they’re providing instruction in a number of ways that best meet the students’ needs, whether it is electronic or in paper, or face to face through the internet. … Meeting the needs of children with disabilities is always a challenge, and our educators, service providers and families are working together to provide the best instruction and services possible in these difficult times.”

Regina had the opportunity to bring a part-time aid into their home to work with John. But with other medical complications, bringing in the extra help puts him at greater risk of getting the coronavirus.

“Ultimately the decision I made was to keep services going as long as I can to help with my mental well-being and give me some type of support,” Regina said.

Support that allows Tully to work with her 6-year-old, Julia, who she worries will be the most impacted.

“I’ve thought about retaining her next year. I’ve thought about getting a tutor to work with her every day once everything does come back because she will fall behind,” Regina said.

The Tullys learned the aid now has a sick child so there’s no telling when she’ll be back. For now, Regina’s handling it all by herself.