Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2021. 4:56 pm CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: Parents of special needs children have had a difficult time with the homeschooling measures implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be facing a difficult transition back into school-based learning, according to Autism Belize, a community NGO geared towards raising awareness and building support networks for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.
Christy Almeida, the founder of Autism Belize, told our newsroom that the organization has been working with parents and teachers providing information and support to help them cope with the difficulties. Since the launch of the organization last April, Autism Belize has held 14 live guest speaker events, nine parent training, monthly parent support meetings over zoom.
“Up until about December for the most part our parents were coping, the kids were coping, since January…our kids just seem to have gone into full regression. I have parents seeing aggression when they have never seen it, children who aren’t sleeping when they used to sleep, kids that are banging their heads against the wall…and I think it’s sort of where our children have reached their limit.”
The prolonged absence of social interaction has also caused issues such as speech regression, which Almeida believes will also make the transition much more challenging than trying to have children readjust to the school setting after the summer break.
In continuing its support to parents, families, and teachers, the organization is hosting several activities for awareness and capacity building in the month of April, which is observed globally as Autism Awareness Month. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology (MECST) has announced its plan to institute a phased reopening of classes for face-to-face learning, with the first possible date being April 12.
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