Amarillo special needs students impacted by COVID-19 in classroom

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) – Changes being made to the classroom this year are impacting students with disabilities more than others.



The pandemic is impacting special needs students and teachers in the classroom.


© Provided by Amarillo KFDA-TV
The pandemic is impacting special needs students and teachers in the classroom.

A psychotherapist says what some may feel while wearing a mask or being separated from friends could be magnified for children with autism.

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“It causes a lot of anxiety and stress with these children. Not just children with autism but all children in general because children love predictability, they love structure, they thrive in it,” said Annette Nunez, psychotherapist.

Children with special needs are experiencing more challenges than most students this school year.

The same can be said for special education teachers.

“The teachers are working for the most part during the day with the kiddos that are in class and they have scheduled times that they get to work with their students that are online. It’s almost like teaching two different classrooms at the same time and it’s difficult,” said Robin Wood, special education director, River Road ISD.

The changes COVID-19 has brought to the classroom such as social distancing and masks are impacting students more than an average student would be impacted.

“So, many children with autism have sensory issues. So when you’re adding in a mask or shield, it just really upsets their sensory system. Meaning they are feeling much more than we are,” said Nunez.

At River Road ISD, there are some special education students that don’t have to wear masks all the time.

But with that comes the risk of these children having to learn from home, creating more issues for staff and students.

“If they do not have a mask on in the class and someone in that classroom gets sick then they have to be quarantined,” said Wood.

Nunez says often times children with autism feed off of adult’s energy.

This meaning if a teacher or parents is stressed and frustrated, it often times could cause children to act out.

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