Learning Amid the Pandemic: Students with Special Needs May Be Left Behind

Over the years, the U.S. educational system has come up with different ways to support students with special needs. Currently, these students are covered by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). At its core, this law ensures that students with disabilities can receive an education that is appropriate for them as well as the support services they need to access it.

The law provides grants to states, educational institutions, nonprofits, and other groups to cover the costs associated with providing individualized instruction — often called IEPs(Individualized Education Program)— and support to students with a wide range of special needs as well as to innovate and create new solutions.

COVID-19 Increases Challenges for Students with Special Needs

As many schools in the U.S. have moved to at least partial distance learning amid the current pandemic, students with special needs and their parents have felt abandoned by the educational system.

In addition to the subjects they are learning in school, for example, some students with learning delays, autism spectrum disorders, and other special needs need to practice social skills with their peers in person, and they are losing that in-person time. Meetings over Zoom provide some body language and voice cues, but don’t provide the full experience of being in the same classroom at the same time. Teachers and parents of these students are worried that their students will lose many of the social skills they’ve gained over the years and have to work extra hard to regain them when schools are back in session.

Occupational therapy and sensory stimulation are also important parts of many students’ educational plans, and those physical activities can’t be done online. These students are also at risk of sliding backward and needing extra support later on.

Even the task of meeting and ensuring that the students’ Individualized Education Program (IEPs) are up to date and being followed in a distance learning situation can be challenging, as staff are stretched thin adapting these IEPs to online tools and parents and caregivers are working to adapt to teaching at home.

Finally, parents of students with severe physical or emotional disabilities may be struggling with the stresses of having their students at home all the time, with no respite during the school day.

Learning Deficits and Birth Defects: Why Exposure to Toxics May Be to Blame

Although some learning issues are caused by injury, many students with special needs were born that way. Birth defects caused by exposure to toxic chemicals while their mother is pregnant can lead to learning deficits and mental and physical impairments. Fluoride in the water supply has been linked to learning deficits. Pesticides used in agriculture have caused severe physical birth defects for children whose parents worked in the fields and who lived near them. And chemicals used to produce plastics, electronics, and other common products have been linked to birth defects for the children of workers.

How We Help Victims of Toxic Exposure

The attorneys of our birth defects victims alliance understand the pain that families face when coping with life-altering birth defects—and the frustration of knowing they could have been prevented. Our team has over 30 years of combined experience in birth defects litigation in cases involving toxic exposure. We have the resources and experience to fight on behalf of our clients against corporations who put them in danger. Call us to see how we can help you and your family receive justice for birth defects.