Frustrated, working-class mother of four Tyree Stewart struggles to balance working from home and engaging youngest son with autism in distance learning.
“Children with special needs must be in a classroom setting with their teacher and one-on-one help,” expressed Stewart.
Stewart’s son Christian is 7 years old and is nonverbal. Her remaining children range from 15 to 22 years old.
“Christian is not focused at all. He has had several meltdowns since school has started. When I’m at work, his sister has to help him log in while trying to do her own studies,” Stewart said.
Stewart, who resides in Wicomico County, is not alone. After taking her frustrations to her personal Facebook page, she found many other parents were upset about not having the resources necessary to educate their children from home.
“Christians school ran out of laptops so we had to use my phone for him to do his schoolwork. I feel like the teacher, principal and all of the above. The whole situation has brought me to tears,” Stewart said.
On Sept. 7 Stewart shared a post on Facebook that stated “The strength y’all expect black women to have is unfair….”
According to the Economic Policy Institute, since the era of slavery, the dominant view of black women has been that they should be workers, a view that contributed to their devaluation as mothers with caregiving needs at home.
Mothers who are at home desperately search for resources to aid their children in developing and surviving the school year during COVID-19 restrictions.
“It has been a learning curve for all of us. We are doing our best to teach virtually but children will need more help to keep up,” said Patsy Squire, a teaching assistant in Montgomery County. “I commend my students for using devices and taking breaks to work through their issues.”
Families that can afford additional online instruction for their children will certainly have the advantage this year.
Deborah Ingram, MBA, is the founder of Martha’s Solutions (MSTS), an online-based tutoring service that gives children an intimate setting to ensure focused, productive learning.
“We believe that all children can learn through differentiated instruction,” Ingram said. “We strive to build productive and positive relationships with our students in order to make a positive impact.”
Parents need stipend money to afford programs such as Circle of Hope Therapeutic Riding which is an organization dedicated to encouraging the physical and mental development of children and adults with developmental, psychological or physical disabilities.
According to Circle of Hope, horses can soothe the emotionally distressed, help with the development of motor skills and, in the case of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), reduce stereotyped behavior, lessen sensory sensitivity and increase the desire and ability to connect socially with others.
A variety of animals, including horses, dogs and guinea pigs, can provide therapy for children who haven’t freely played on a playground with friends in months due to the pandemic and long for motivation.
Nine-year-old Spencer leaves a testimony on the Circle of Hope website:
“Spencer’s coordination and motor skills have greatly improved. He is more compliant and calm after a Circle of Hope session. We use “riding Papa” as a motivator, and he is able to make the connection between behavior and a reward. ”
Therapeutic riding is offered to children and adults with disabilities that include, but are not limited to, autism, emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and developmental delays.
“Once you target a child’s learning style, you can teach them anything they need to learn,” Ingram said. “For children with autism, their learning style is more kinesthetic. They generally like hands-on, art, sculptures, Play-Doh, Legos and playing outside.”
Fees ranging from $90 to $810 to participate in therapeutic riding and $30 for 30 minutes of tutoring may be out of budget for mothers like Stewart. Purchasing a small pet for the home might be a more cost-effective option.
“You have to understand that children with autism are very observant and are calmed by touch,” Ingram said. “It may seem like one more thing to do, but I think they will have a better advantage of being successful in academics with an animal in their home.”
For more information on therapeutic riding, go to www.chtr.org. To get online tutoring, go to Martha’s Solutions Tutoring at https://marthassolutions.wixsite.com/tutoring.