The Education Authority has a range of online resources for parents and carers of a child or children with special educational needs
CCEA has compiled a list of resources may be helpful for schools and parents/carers of learners with special educational needs.
Middletown Centre for Autism has a range or resources and information, to help parents of children with special educational needs.
As you and your child progress through the 2020-21 school year, you will be aware of the many ways in which the pandemic has affected normal school life. Pupils and staff may, for example, have been required to isolate at home for periods of time due to the impact of positive C-19 cases on their class bubbles. Special schools have consistently provided families and carers with valuable information to keep you informed of how they are dealing with COVID, and how they are taking into consideration regularly updated guidance issued by both the Department for Health and the Department for Education.
Changes in your school will have included:
- changes in transport for example staggered drop-off and pick-up times;
- changed timetables with temporary restrictions for example no assemblies or no access to specialist classrooms eg Home Economics;
- the possibility of some teachers and classroom assistants wearing Personal Protective Equipment to carry out specific tasks, and an increased focus on hand-washing for staff and pupils;
- changed lunch and break times;
- restricted movement around the school for example one-way systems/bubble classrooms/restricted contact time with friends in different classrooms;
- increased cleaning routines around the school and within classrooms; and
- changed routines for parent-teacher meetings and annual reviews.
Things to consider
- Read the guidance from your school carefully; it will have been reviewed regularly in line with updated COVID guidance.
- If you have any concerns about arrangements for your child during this time, ask to speak with your child’s school, request updates on your child’s progress and speak with relevant education and/or health for example, in relation to arrangements for school-leavers.
- Continue to build in regular time to communicate with your child, listening to potential anxieties about C-19 and school. Empathise with their fears and try to reassure them. Contact the school about your child’s concerns or to access support services if required.
- Let the school know about new issues that may arise for your child, including possible challenges and successes experienced during isolation periods when your child was learning from home.
- If your child uses IT devices to access learning, from home and you are experiencing difficulties with either connectivity or having suitable devices, let your school know immediately; they will be very keen to help.
- Look at the school website often, and communicate regularly via all available means eg See Saw, Parentmail, Google Classroom.
The National Deaf Children’s Society has 12 free weekly lessons for families of deaf children, with region-specific classes from week 2. Visit their YouTube channel to view the Northern Ireland lessons.
Rise NI have produced online resources for parents including information on social, emotional and behavioural development, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has published an information pack ‘Supporting Children with ASD and/or Learning Disability in coping with COVID-19 isolation’.
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has an online resource containing a range of information to help the parents of children with disability, including supporting behaviour and communication such as advice on how to manage smearing, and advice on sleep, such as a bedtime routine.
The Daily Five is a series of guided videos by Sarah Ashfield to help a child/young person build resilience.
Stress control classes are available online provided by Dr Jim White.