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Let’s not leave special needs students behind | READER COMMENTARY

This January 2020 photo shows Anna Mandh, left, and her mother, Darlene Gildersleeve, in Concord, N.H. Gildersleeve is among many parents concerned about access to special education services as schools have shifted to remote learning due to the new coronavirus. (Darlene Gildersleeve via AP)
This January 2020 photo shows Anna Mandh, left, and her mother, Darlene Gildersleeve, in Concord, N.H. Gildersleeve is among many parents concerned about access to special education services as schools have shifted to remote learning due to the new coronavirus. (Darlene Gildersleeve via AP)(Darlene Gildersleeve/AP)

Referencing the editorial, “For Maryland schools, coronavirus calls for creative solutions” (March 26), I want to reemphasize the importance of reaching out to children with special education needs.

This time of social isolation can be especially difficult for these children. They often have trouble with any deviation from their routine, so imagine how no school, no teachers, no mental health services and no dedicated aides affects them. Couple this with parents not used to dealing with their child 24/7 without the necessary supports. Every effort needs to be made to meet the needs of these children.

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The Children’s Guild Alliance has served special needs children for 67 years and, like every special ed provider knows, the secret to helping children with special needs is individualizing instruction and developing a relationship that radiates that we understand their struggle. Over these past two weeks, we have tried to create an engaging approach to distance learning for these students. We appreciate Maryland State Department of Education providing the opportunity to do this for our students to stimulate and challenge them so they can maintain their academic gains.

In these difficult times, we know we must continue to work to serve the whole child in new ways. It is my hope that this crisis will push our thinking in terms of distance learning for the special ed population, and we will benefit in the future from new methods to help those students who find it difficult to function in a classroom setting. It’s time to put kids first.

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Andrew L. Ross, Baltimore

The writer is CEO and president of The Children’s Guild Alliance.

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