The parents breathe a sigh of relief when the children with...

The parents breathe a sigh of relief when the children with...
The parents breathe a sigh of relief when the children with...
Henry has a rare genetic condition called dup15q that causes autism about 3 percent of the time. In his case, it has also given him an intellectual disability, sleep disorder, and difficulty with his speech.

He is a loving boy with a good sense of fun and a love of going to school.

But love did not extend to distance learning. Instead, it scared Henry when it tore him away from his routines.

“He’s a real creature of habit, he likes to see his school friends and his teachers at school. He can’t cope with seeing her on a screen or zoomed in, ”Ms. McCowan said.

Despite being delighted that Henry will return to school for the first time since June on Monday, Ms. McCowan fears the catching up job will be daunting.


“There is no doubt it set him back,” Ms. McCowan said.

“He learns, but for him school is so much about life skills and sociability, not just academic skills. I think there is no doubt in social terms that it will push him back and he will have a lot of catching up to do. ”

Henry is attending Croxton School, a 12th grade school that, along with all other Melbourne technical schools, will reopen to all students on Monday.

About 584,000 students will be back in class on Monday, and about a million parents will be sigh of relief when they leave.

However, the challenge of distance learning has been particularly acute for many parents of children with disabilities.

When Victorian schools partially returned to distance learning in July, technical schools were kept open based on feedback from parents that they and their children had found the first phase of distance learning in Term Two to be extremely difficult.

When Melbourne put the four restrictions in place in early August, they were closed again.

Fiona Sharkie, executive director of Amaze, the governing body for autism, said autistic children struggled both mentally and academically during distance learning.

“Some have retired from school,” said Ms. Sharkie.

Heather Renton, whose 14-year-old daughter Rebecca also has an intellectual disability, didn’t even try to enroll in correspondence courses last week.

“We didn’t do it in the last week of the third semester either because she had just had enough. We tried to go online on Monday and she just kept cursing and silencing herself and calling the teacher a goddamn idiot. ”

Rebecca also has an oppositional defiant disorder that causes outbursts of anger.

Ms. Renton is the founder of SWAN (Syndromes Without a Name), a support group for parents and carers for children with rare and undiagnosed genetic diseases.

Parents of children with a disability would celebrate their return to school on Monday, she said. Many had suffered during distance learning.

“It’s so hard for the parents,” she said. “So many parents’ mental health has deteriorated, including my own.”

Education Secretary James Merlino said schools would focus on promoting the mental health and wellbeing of returning students and identifying those in need of help catching up.

“Our focus in semester four is to make sure every student is supported and getting our students back into class is a significant step forward,” he said.

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Adam Carey is an education editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered government politics, transportation, general news, art, and food.

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