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September 8, 2020

Families with children who have special needs are facing unique challenges amidst COVID | As the World Turns

Matthew is almost 15. He just started his freshman year of high school. He has Apert syndrome which has contributed to his intellectual delays. Like every kid in America with special needs, Matthew has an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) which includes academic, social and life skill goals for the current year of school. His IEP describes the accommodations at school and the constellation of human and other resources the school system is committing to bring to help this one child achieve his full potential. And while Matthew is unique, Matthew is also one of many students with emotional, behavioral, intellectual, physical, learning or other challenges. One in every seven kids in the United States has an IEP for one of these (or other) reasons.

Matthew, and those like him, are not able to log on to remote learning platforms, quickly follow a series of instructions the teacher might give via a screen, take notes, nor behave in a way on screen that allows for every other student to actually pay attention and learn. Matthew is a distraction and he literally can’t help himself. In addition to having Aperts, Matthew is also ADHD. The majority of kids with an IEP have similar co-occurring challenges. What does that mean? That means that in order for Matthew to participate in remote learning offered by his school district during the spring of 2020 and now fall 2021, an adult in Matthew’s home has to sit with him whenever the computer is on. And that adult has to be fully engaged – keeping Matthew focused, keeping him from distracting others who are seeking to learn, helping him take notes (or doing so for him as he is unable to write quickly because of his deformities), and assist him in whatever follow up is required beyond live attendance.  And Matthew is just one….of millions. Matthew is in view here today because he is my stepson and Matthew has been living with Jim and me full time since early 2014.

COVID presents challenges for each of us and all of us. Today we bring into focus the unique challenges faced by families like ours: families with a child who has special needs. My guest is Dr. Stephen Grcevich and for resources I encourage you to visit


For more on this topic:
More with Dr. Stephen Grcevich, March 2020, Septemberr 2018, April 2018,

Jolene Philo – Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families

Jamie Sumner – Eat, Sleep, Save the World

Tricia Goyer – Calming Angry Kids


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