Rockford parents with special needs kids have a tough choice to make

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:20 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Most families can choose to send kids back to school or not based on their preferences. But for students who need accommodations, the decision is much more difficult.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Tui Harned, Mavis’ mom.

5-year-old Mavis Harned, a soon-to-be kindergartener at Cherry Valley Elementary won’t see much of the school this year.

“Mavis has down syndrome, not that it’s limiting for her. She was born with a congenital heart issue and she has some kidney issues. So just with the unknown of the virus, we are very nervous about sending her to school,” Harned said.

Harned says it will definitely be an adjustment for her youngest daughter.

“All she knows at this point is what her school life is like. Before we had to shut everything down and I think she really misses that,” Harned said.

Unlike the Harned’s who made their choice for Mavis, many parents are still weighing options.

“Our job is to offer all of the resources that are available to them and help them than make an educated decision for their child and their family,” said Rosie York, Autism Home Support Services behavioral analyst.

York says the best thing parents can do is keep a routine for their kids and ease them back into the school year.

“That might consist of a visual laying out what’s going to happen in the morning, the afternoon and the evening time,” York said.

York says parents should familiarize their students with wearing a mask sooner than later.

“Maybe starting them out by exposing them to mom and dad wearing the mask and from there maybe they put it on a favorite stuffed animal,” York said.

AHSS offers an early learners group and social groups for older kids which York says can provide a social outlet for remote learners.

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