Family counseling – Language magazine
According to the recent report from the US Department of Education Education in a Pandemic: The disparate impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. students: “For many students with disabilities in elementary and secondary school, COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the education and related aids and services needed to support their academic progress and prevent regression – and may have exacerbated long-standing disparities in their school results. “1
Many students with communication disabilities have been particularly affected by changes such as virtual and blended learning that were implemented in the 2020-2021 school year due to the pandemic. As some of these children return to face-to-face teaching for the first time in over a year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends the following ways for families to help them prepare for a successful school year in person. and support the recovery of communication, social and learning skills:
• Attend the school’s open house events / welcome meetings. Try to attend if your schedule allows. If you cannot attend, ask if it is possible to meet the teacher virtually or to tour the building at another time. You may also be able to consult the speech-language pathologist (speech therapist). This can help children with communication disabilities reduce uncertainty about the classroom and school environment and give families details they can discuss in advance with their child (for example, where they will be seated and with whom, where to go if they are too stimulated or want time alone, who is in the classroom, etc.).
• Practice social skills. Daily interactions such as talking with friends, playing recess, and having lunch in the cafeteria can be difficult for children with language and / or social communication disabilities, especially those who have had little interaction with their children. peers of the same age in the previous year. All of this can play a role in education as well as social success. Families can help children by playing homeschooling and practicing these specific scenarios. They may also want to organize games with their classmates and visit parks, swimming pools and other places where the children are, if the comfort level of the family allows it.
• Prepare for social / behavioral expectations in the classroom. Children may need to be reminded of basic classroom behaviors, such as sitting down, raising their hand when they want to say something, or asking permission to use the bathroom. Pandemic expectations such as social distancing, wearing masks, and staying with a particular group of children at lunch or recess may also be necessary. Talk about these changes in advance and practice the behaviors that can be difficult. Families of children with communication disabilities may want to create social stories, structured and personalized stories that explain social situations to children. These stories can help children with language and social disabilities cope with difficult situations.
• First children for learning. At least a week before the first day, formalize the habits to put your child in a good position to start the year. These include reading at night before bed, gradually reducing their screen time, and practicing going to bed early and waking up on time. Children with speech and language impairments usually thrive on such routines. A visual chart of these routines and keeping a consistent schedule can also help.
• Act out potentially stressful scenarios. There may be special situations that worry your child about returning to school. For example, a child who stutters may be afraid to show up on the first day of class or to read aloud. By talking about these situations and practicing, you can help reduce stress, decrease negative reactions and emotions, and build confidence in new social interactions.
• Keep communication open with your child’s teacher, speech-language pathologist, and other school staff. If you have specific concerns about returning to school and / or particular skills and regression in learning, let the school know in advance so the staff can do everything possible to help your child. to success. You can do this informally (for example, emailing the teacher) as well as formally (for example, in meetings to discuss individualized education programs. [IEPs] or 504 plans).
• Prepare for possible changes in IEP services or 504 plans. For students who already have IEPs or 504 plans, there may still be changes in the way speech-language pathology and other services are provided due to the pandemic. This can vary by school district and even by school. Talk to your child’s IEP coordinator and / or case manager about what the services will look like so you all know what to expect.
• Ask about your child’s services. Know that families still have the rights they always had in terms of special education services. When you meet with your child’s education team, discuss how they assess them for any regression in skills and how the school will address them. Your child’s speech-language pathologist and other providers want what’s best for them. Through a collaborative relationship, your child can reach their highest potential.
• Stay positive about where your child is right now. Despite the difficult circumstances of the past school year, all has not been lost. Children are resilient and can recover. Stay upbeat and help your child get excited when shopping for school supplies or a new backpack, picking up first day of school outfits, and talking about teacher homework and other details. Their enthusiasm for the New Year can impact both their learning and their social success.
For more information on speech-language pathology services in schools, visit www.asha.org/public/speech/development/speech-and-language-services-in-schools.