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Virtual learning comes with challenges for students with disabilities and their families

The Ability Center will offer weekly webinars to help parents navigate between the difficulties of in-person and virtual learning.

TOLEDO, Ohio — This new school year will look different for everyone in many ways. 

While many feel virtual learning is the best option, virtual learning can present a challenge for students who have disabilities. Some students require accommodations for physical disabilities, while others face the difficulty of learning disabilities.

For families of these children with special needs, they're now facing uncertainty in areas where other families may see a clearer path.

“I am really nervous about that. I can't deny that at all. I really don't know what the right choice is as a parent,” said Brittany Joseph.

Joseph is one of many parents unsure of what lies ahead on the path to this coming school year. On top of the added stress this unconventional school year brings, her son Peyton has autism.

“There’s certainly the option to do online learning at his school, but he doesn't want to do that,” said Joseph.

Like many kids with autism, Peyton struggled to stay on track during virtual learning at the end of the last school year. This can prove extremely frustrating to students, especially when removed from a specialized teaching environment.

"A child with a disability has a lot of support services through the school,” said physical therapist Luke Hodulik.

Hodulik works with Multiple Disabilities students. These students have more than one disability, like Cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. When the pandemic started, he was able to check in with about half of his students via Zoom.

“Trying to perform our interventions over video conference is extremely challenging and a lot of times just doesn't work,” said Hodulik.

Hodulik said many parents he has spoken to are concerned about safety for the upcoming school year. Because of growing concerns like this, The Ability Center is kicking off a series of weekly webinars to help parents navigate between in-person and virtual learning.

The first webinar begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12. It will be available live on The Ability Center's Facebook page

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