The special needs community has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our children thrive on routines and this change in routines has been extremely difficult for them. Let’s look at the various ways this community has been impacted.
School closures. Schools are an incredible resource for the special needs community. Most of our children are on IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans) and our children often require specialized instruction that we as parents don’t know how to do at home. Schools are doing their best to try to figure out how to implement in-home teaching but for now, us parents are in limbo. Many of our children also receive therapies at school and for some families, it is the only access they have to therapy services.
Therapy services. Outside of school therapy services have also been disrupted for many families. We are constantly worried about regression with our children. Many of them are already far behind their peers, we fear that with lack of access to services they will not only stagnate but also regress. Both of my children receive ABA therapy and both of their services have been canceled. I have chosen to cancel my son’s in-clinic speech therapy because of the social distancing recommendations that are in place. We in the special needs community are always mindful that there are those within this community that have medically fragile children and we are taking as many steps as we can to protect those who really need protecting from this virus.
The biggest concern I’ve been hearing is not so much the schools or the therapies, but the access to prescription drugs and the incredible amount of hoarding that is taking place in this country.
Prescription drugs are a major concern for these families because they can often only get enough supplies for a month, and often these drugs are manufactured in China. With the advance of this virus, many of them are battling insurance companies to get more than a month’s worth of life-saving drugs for their children. This has and continues to be a problem for this community.
For those with medically fragile children, those who really, really need enough supplies so they can stay home for 1-3 months, they are having a difficult time finding enough supplies that would allow them to do so. Causing them to go to store after store looking for essentials to get them through and exposing them to more and more people. These families are relying on others in the community to LEAVE THINGS ON THE SHELF. They are relying on people to stay home to stop the spread of this disease, They are relying on the kindness of others to help them get their child through this.
This is not a game for them. This is not an extended vacation. This is life or death for their children.
So what can everyone do? Stop hoarding, and give back to the community. Take this seriously. Take this time to give back to others. This is why DAMES has opened its memberships to all. We all need to help each other through this by looking out for the community as a whole- not just ourselves.