Special Needs Students Are Struggling. What Can Be Done?

School closures have hit special needs students especially hard. Parents of children with disabilities report their children backsliding without the expert, in-person interaction they once had. The state is home to some 760,000 of these special needs children so, down the road, the consequences could be enormous.

One part of the problem is delayed student assessments and services. The state still requires special education per federal law, but it extended important timelines for special education assessments, help, and even review of complaints. In Los Angeles County, no in-person assessments are currently being performed, which means early intervention has taken a major hit. And the services special needs children do receive are often of lesser quality or lacking in consistency.

“I wish I had the answers, but I really don’t,” Paul Luelmo, a professor of special education at San Diego State, told the Los Angeles Times

School closures are clearly hurting the most vulnerable. But there is a pandemic raging, after all. For now, vulnerable children are caught in the middle.