How one MA school is creatively teaching special education students during COVID-19

WESTFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Special Education students face unique challenges during COVID 19 school closures.

As 7 News Investigates previously reported, some school districts aren’t providing any services, despite being required to do so.

But one school is getting creative to help those who need it most.

Una Basak is teaching her 16-year-old twins Anjan and Sachin with videos from their teachers at Nashoba Learning Group during COVID 19. Both boys are living with autism.

“My sons go to Nashoba Learning Group. They require one-to-one instruction in addition to the 6-hour day, they have home services for 3 hours four days a week after school to help them with their daily living skills,” Basak said.

“We are a school and an adult program for individuals with autism and generally intellectual disabilities who just have needs too great to be met in their local public school,” said Liz Martineau, president of Nashoba Learning Group.

When the school had to close for COVID 19, there was a lot of worry and fear for Basak and many other families.

“This is not like a typical child who is losing a math skill, this is about someone who used to hit their head against the wall continuously, therapy helped with intervention and now that therapy is gone, and so that behavior may recur,” Basak said.

Districts across Massachusetts are required to provide special education services and communicate with families.

Basak said Nashoba has been incredible.

“What they’ve done is they’ve stepped in with heavy consultation as well as amazingly direct service with my sons,” she said.

That direct service includes daily videos.

“Our staff had made lots of videos modeling different skills for the kids,” said Martineau. “For some of our kids, it’s just about making it as reinforcing as we can, whatever that kid likes.”

The school has also planned scavenger hunts, and exercise classes. Officials said the most important thing is to work side by side with parents.

“We have one student who when he feels he’s at loose ends, his mother will signal us and we’ll pop a new teacher up on screen to bring him back. He enjoys the change in teacher so that’s one way that child is able to cope,” Martineau said.

“Obviously it’s taken some adjustment but these offerings made a tremendous difference in our lives,” she added.

IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR STUDENT RECEIVING SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES:

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has a Problem Resolution Hotline. Their number is 781-338-3700. They encourage parents with concerns about receiving services, while school is closed, to call the number.

ONLINE TOOLBOX FOR PARENTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Here is the state’s new Resource Toolbox for parents of students with disabilities. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is working on translating the toolbox and will put it online once it is done being translated.

Family Resource Toolbox SWD... by Brynne Connolly on Scribd

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