Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 24 July 2020

Covid on the Margins

Pic courtesy The Conversation

For nearly thirty years I worked in the principalship of a range of specials schools, in locations up and down the Queensland coast.

For the most part, these were wonderful years, and I found them both challenging and enjoyable, particularly when I had the privilege, on two separate occasions, of opening schools.

With that in mind, I must admit frankly that I am very glad not to be in a the position of leading a special school community in the teeth of the current pandemic.  I was reminded of this when I saw this article.

For students with disabilities, a whole range of factors complicate the situation for both parents and schools. In the first place, there is a requirement for additional physical care for most students in special schools, and close physical contact with staff is always a component of this care.

In addition, for students with difficult behaviours, especially those on the Autism spectrum, management against the background of social distancing is extremely difficult.

Then there is the reality that many of these children have compromised health, either because it is part of their impairment, or because they are inactive or have limited mobility. If you're stuck in a wheelchair a lot of the time, it is difficult to maintain good health simply because you were designed to move.

In most of the special schools I managed, we ran transdisciplinary programmes, involving physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and special care often incorporating gastrostomy feeding. All of these therapies require special protocols that pay no attention to social distancing.

Setting them up so they are safe and practicable must be concentrating the minds of teachers, parents and therapists all over the country. 

There has been a silence in the media about this issue. 

That's nothing new, of course. Marginalised individuals (whether the marginalisation is a product of race, disability, or socio-economic status) rarely get a mention unless their situation effects mainstream populations.

So give a thought to these children, their schools and their families.

Right now, they probably need as much help as they can get.

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