Special-needs challenges

Opinion: Editorials

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We all cope these days with our specific circumstances. Lost wages. Loneliness. Actual illness. Worries from the pandemic's front lines, whether that is working in a hospital or at Walmart.

Today, though, as we read Maria Maxham's strong profile of Denita Johnson and her Forest Park family, we offer up a prayer for neighbors not just coping to manage "distance learning" with their kids but for families with special needs.

Christian, Denita's young son, is a District 91 first-grader who has autism. And while she has praise for the district's art, speech, gym and occupational therapy staffers, she is extraordinarily frustrated with the academic portion of distance learning for her son.

And she carries both weariness and worry that Christian's hard-won academic accomplishments — his letters, numbers, a start on arithmetic — will be lost in this COVID season of pain. Further, she worries that if school does not reopen in August, her employer will want her back in her office in any event.

Certainly some of this stress is shared by every Forest Park parent. But it is always amplified when special needs are added. So hold a thought for Ms. Johnson, for her kids and for teachers who clearly need more help in meeting the needs of these children.

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