Suddenly, Akash was replaced by a screen and the physical touch had gone, we were present and seeing each other but our regular meetings were debarred, corona had entered in our life and we were yet to understand how to respond to the sudden abrupt changes coming one after the other in our daily life.
Akash was one of my students, a special child and in need of my physical presence to help him with his academics and social skills, was confined to screen with me on the other side, trying to instruct and filling the gap created by this pandemic and how successful me and my team was going to be in this was still a question for all of us to know? This is when we all “so called normal” started realizing that when we are unable to understand this sudden virtual change then how difficult it is for children with special need (CWSN) to cope up.
Imagine a child who is wheel chair bound and needs a constant physical help and we require “2 Gaj Ki Doori”.
Imagine a child who has dyslexia (a learning disability) cannot attend his special education classes at his learning center, he already has a learning gap and it is getting widened. A child having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) who needs to be on the ground is confined to the four walls and the impact of all this is starting to reflect in his/her behavior and academics.
Just imagine the impact of all this on the mental health of this child. Living under total uncertainty and poor support with that the high demands from parental and school end to perform in academics and other cocurricular activities, all this makes the situation so stressful for them that they start showing with drawl symptoms.
As children are constantly at home hence they are feeling the social void as they are unable to meet their friends and classmates. There is a visible shift in their behavior which shows more impatience and impulsivity but they can’t be blamed for it as they are unable to cope up this confinement. Their screen time has increased drastically and most of them are venting out their emotions through various ways in the so-called virtual world. This definitely degrades their emotion quotient and connect with the family takes-a-toll.
As parents are also working from home and they are themselves struggling to make their ends meet and many a times they end up passing their frustrations to the children who have special needs. Sometimes kids are exposed to unwanted quarrels and home issues between the parents which takes a negative toll on the mental well-being. Any financial issue or loss of a family member adds up to the acute level of stress experienced by CWSN. As some of them can’t even express their feelings and emotions properly suffer a lot without anyone knowing about their pain.
There is an urgent need to address the mental health of our CWSN and also to create a provision for comprehensive tech-oriented training to special educators in the field of online teaching, which is fast becoming the new mode of teaching so that the learning gap among these children can be minimised. The use of audio-visual methodology and scientific ways of learning should be implemented by the schools and educators. Regular online counselling and motivational talks can help them in coping up this period of uncertainty.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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