With the rapid spread of COVID-19, we saw a drastic shift in how many students would be learning at the start of the Fall 2020 school year. There are a few different learning modals that are being followed by different school districts. Many children are fully remote, having all their learning occur via an online platform. Some children are spending 2-4 days a week in person at school, with shortened days and additional e-learning occurring at home. And finally, several school districts have chosen to return to school full time with precautions in place.
E-learning can be a difficult transition for children with ASD for several reasons. The fact that they will be required to attend to a computer for long periods of time, with the added distractor of being at home can pose a challenge. There may also be longer periods of downtime, while the teacher is asking other students questions or prepping for the next activity. Many kids use IPads or computers for leisure activities, and they may be tempted to exit out of their e-learning platform to engage in other activities. Finally, the change in routine can be incredibly challenging for children, the idea of going to school but remaining home can be difficult to understand or adjust to.
There are several things parents can do to help support their children with ASD when it comes to e-learning. Visual schedules and calendars to help their children prepare for their day and attend to tasks as needed. This can help ease some anxiety and transitions between classes. It can also detail which class they will be attending, and which teacher will be leading the class. Helping prep the learning area at home can support success when it comes to e-learning. Providing the child with a decluttered workspace, removing as many distractions as possible. Also providing an environment with minimal noise, and if needed have fidgets to help with any needed movement breaks and support focus on each class/task.
Parents can also reach out to their child’s teacher for any resources to help familiarize the child to the new virtual learning platform. There are also support groups available for parents to help gain additional ideas to support children with the new platform for learning this school year. Finally, parents can request IEP meetings to discuss appropriate supports for their children during remote learning. These meetings can be used to discuss any needed changes to the content or methods of instruction.
2020 marked a huge change to our educational system and with that many challenges arose for our children. Parents can help prepare their students for the changes in their learning platforms in a few different ways. Preparing our students in advance can help them anticipate the changes, and possibly make the transition a little smoother. Establishing daily routines can also help a child adjust to their new learning platform. Visual schedules can help support the new routine and guide e-learning. Online learning can be confusing to some children, as they may be only used to using their IPads/computers for leisure activities. Helping them understand when it is time for e-learning and when it is time to play can help them understand how they are using their devices at a given time. If additional supports are needed, parents can reach out to either their child’s teacher or call for an IEP meeting. Additional resources/accommodations can be made to ensure a child is able to succeed with their new e-learning platform.