Richland mother share difficulties with remote learning and special needs children

RICHLAND, Wash. — As students across the area adjust to a new type of learning, the transition has proved to be especially difficult for students with special needs.

Aiden Brinkmann, from Richland, lives with a chromosomal disorder which has affected his development and social skills. His mother Darcy, said he displays behavior that’s similar to Autism. While Darcy and her husband work at home, they must also help their son, who struggles to focus on remote learning.

“It’s very difficult, we’re basically just trying to keep a third eye on him to make sure he’s not hurting himself because he does leave the house, he’s a flight risk,” Darcy said.

According to his mother, Aiden is supposed to take part in distance learning for three hours a day, but, resources like a tablet or laptop send him into sensory overload. While his parents can offer him love, support and guidance, they don’t have the ability to provide the services professionals do with the Richland School District.

“I’m not a speech therapist, I’m not an occupational therapist, I rely heavily on that school to provide these things,” Darcy said.

After her husband took to Facebook to express their concerns, Darcy learned they weren’t alone. Other parents described how worried they are about their special needs childrens’ mental health, social development and overall well being.

“I don’t know why they think it’s appropriate for my child who is non-verbal, does not read or write and cannot operate an electronic device without assistance from an adult. Why he should be on Zoom calls for three hours a day?” Darcy said.

When asked about the matter, the Richland School District responded with this:

“Our Special Education department and the teams of specialists and educators who determine services for students in collaboration with parents are determining how to provide services while we are in an online format. We understand that this poses challenges for some students and are working to find the best solutions. The district does plan for students receiving special education services to be the first back in our schools for in-person instruction once the Board determines it is safe to do so.”

According to their agenda, the RSD School Board plans to discuss special needs children returning to school on Tuesday night. To tune into the meeting, visit their website.