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Time Away From Classroom Could Mean Regression for Some Students With Special Needs

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As school districts around North Texas make last-minute plans over when to allow in-person learning, some families with students who have special needs are watching with bated breath.

Audrey Holt said fear over 5-year-old Nola’s regression during the pandemic has been enough to keep her awake at night.

Her daughter was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder at 18 months old, and she's required some form of intervention or support ever since.

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When March forced Nola home, things got tough.

“She went from that, being surrounded by a literal team of teachers. She had like seven or eight teachers who worked with her throughout the day, who had master’s degrees in child development and occupational therapy and speech therapy, to no outlet,” Holt said. “It was practically impossible for me to get her to respond to the materials that they were, you know, sending us.” 

For Nola, some milestones can take years.

Over the last five months, Holt said she’s already seen regression.

She said it’s too soon to know what the long-term impacts will be.

“Every day she goes without, she’s at a further and further disadvantage than she already was, to begin with,” Holt said.

Thankfully for their family, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD announced new plans Friday to make in-person learning an option Sept. 8.

Some other districts, like Arlington ISD, will make in-person learning an option for students with special needs sooner than the general student population.

For Holt, it’s relief.

Still, she’s using her voice to remind people to keep kids like her daughter in mind. Though she said she believes there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for figuring out what’s best this fall, she wants students like Nola to be given the chance to succeed.

"I don't know what's going to happen when we open, but I'm really hoping for the best because every kid deserves a fair education,” Holt said.

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