By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Marcella Roberts is not concerned that her son Joshua, who has Down syndrome, will show signs of regression during the COVID-19 public health crisis. In fact, he hasn’t missed a beat.
“My son has a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and an instructional support teacher, in addition to his regular teacher, who he connects with via Zoom meetings,” she said.
Roberts and her husband, Kevin, are both lawyers, and both are working from home like many professionals. They also spend time making sure their two sons, Joshua and his twin brother Kendal, turn in their assignments on time, as well as spend face-to-face time with Joshua to make sure he gets what he needs.
Joshua, a fifth grader at Brock’s Gap Intermediate School in Hoover, is just one of many students who have had to switch to distance learning as schools began closing in March. According to an article in the Hechinger Report, an online education website, advocates, educators, and parents say kids with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during this crisis and worry some may regress during the pandemic.
Roberts, who is the president of the board of directors for Down Syndrome Alabama, an organization that advocates and supports individuals with Down syndrome, said her son has the same support at home that he has at school.
“Teachers have provided parents with activities,” she said. “[Joshua] has a full deck for speech. For occupational therapy, I got a packet of information, so they check in with me on a regular basis to see how Joshua is doing. We work on occupational therapy and speech together, and then I send a copy of what he has done in those areas.
“I can schedule time for [the therapists] to connect with us via a Google Meet or something like that, so [Joshua] still has access. … Besides not being able to meet physically, he hasn’t missed a beat.”
Joshua also meets with his instructional support teacher once a week because it’s important for him to maintain the routine he had while school was open.
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