Students and families at The Children’s Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies, a specialty school for students on the autism spectrum in Glendale, Ariz., experienced a welcome surprise as they returned to campus this year – remodeled classrooms, updated outdoor areas and new technology. These are just a few modifications made to accommodate students during an unprecedented time in the world.
“The effects of COVID-19 can be seen across many industries but not many are as categorically impacted as the Valley’s educational system,” said Michelle Stroyne, Special Education Director at The Children’s Center. “Parents and educators are especially concerned about special needs students and those with individualized education programs (IEPs) getting the services they need and deserve during the global pandemic. Many schools have pivoted to virtual learning environments, which can be challenging not only for special needs students, but for all types of kids.”
Stroyne had a few tips for parents as they navigate uncharted virtual learning territory:
- Everyone is unique. Don’t compare your workspace, time spent or child’s needs to others right now. Each district, school and student is different; that’s especially applicable in special education. Afford yourself and your kiddo some grace as you collaborate to build the best learning environment for success.
- Give yourself a break. Students and parents need a break from the computer screen and from the rigors of online learning, not to mention the stress of navigating this new learning protocol. Make time each day to take a breather. Step outside and get some fresh air. Stand up and stretch. Find tools and strategies that help you and your child unwind and decompress throughout the day.
- Have some fun. After months of living through a global pandemic, try to set your child up for success and a positive attitude about school. Create a reward system for daily habits like washing hands, sanitizing work stations, getting classwork done, planning for the day ahead, or whatever speaks to your student’s needs.
As part of The Children’s Center summer upgrades, the organization invested in additional technology and renovated the campus to include more exterior space so each classroom has its own private outdoor area. They also got new classroom furniture to encourage social distancing, renovated bathrooms and kitchen areas for ease of cleaning and disinfecting, and purchased new Chromebooks and tablets to provide a 1:1 student technology ratio.
“Whether students are participating virtually or returning to in-person learning, consistency and routine is very important and can make a real difference between frustrated children and parents and a successful fall semester,” added Stroyne.
Opened in 1978, The Children’s Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies is an invaluable resource for families with children on the autism spectrum. The full-service, non-profit organization provides comprehensive educational, therapeutic and habilitative programs for children and young adults ages 3-22 including positive behavior intervention and support, occupational therapy, speech therapy and community-based instruction. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit https://thechildrenscenteraz.org/ or call (623) 915-0345.