Special needs students struggle to adapt to on-screen, hands-off learning amid pandemic

For sixth-grader Santiago Casas, who has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, going to school means staying home and staring at a computer for six hours.

The screen, like a drawbridge stuck in the up position, has left him stranded, cut off from the cognitive and social nurturing he received in the classroom.

He has trouble with organization, so clicking between online calendars, messages, documents and assignments for six advanced classes is “like negotiating a maze,” said his mother. He has trouble concentrating, so sitting still through the 115-minute periods of his new online block schedule at Glades Middle School on two-dimensional Zoom and Teams meeting platforms is “like torture,” she said.

Santiago used to love school. Now he hates it. So do his parents and teachers. Remote learning, a disruption to everyone’s education during the coronavirus pandemic, creates an even higher barrier for students with special physical, emotional

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