Mother/Special Education partner waits for certainty during COVID-19 pandemic


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Uncertainty is the default for many during the coronavirus pandemic including for Jamie Thomas and her son Hunter who has special needs.

“What would you rather be doing?” Thomas asks her son.

“I’d rather be being with my friends right now,” replies Hunter sat in his mother’s lap.

Thomas is working from home per the instruction of her employer The Pen Project which serves families of children with disabilities in Texas. She’s the coordinator for Regions 14 (Abilene) and 15 (San Angelo) and since school has been suspended for weeks now, following up on the children she serves has been harder from her home office.

“Not only is this uncharted territory but we’re being impacted by things that other families are not impacted by,” said Thomas.

Hunter has also been home for weeks since the pandemic shut down all schools, leaving Hunter and other children in Special Education without services like speech and physical therapy.

“TEA [Texas Education Agency] we know they’re working hard it’s just an uncertain time,” said Thomas.

And while district leaders in Abilene are developing resources for students like at-home online studies and lesson packets (which were delivered to special needs students personally by educators), Thomas says she and other parents are concerned their children might regress in their personal skills the longer they’re kept out of their typical routines should gatherings continued to be limited into the summer or beyond.

“That’s a huge gap,” said Thomas.

For now Thomas’s family is doing what it can and waiting for the pandemic to pass and for life to return to what it once was.

Thomas posts daily resources and news updates on special education changes during the pandemic. You can find those posts on The Pen Program‘s Facebook Page.

The Pen Project is hosting a virtual conference on resources and advice for parents March 21 at 9:15 a.m. Follow this link for registration information .

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