CHENNAI: The pandemic has turned over a new leaf in the learning aspects with schools going the digital way. The classrooms are now at fingertips, at least for those who can afford it. Gone are the days when teaching was confined within the four walls of a classroom.
The phase is really worrisome as it poses serious challenges on learning and growth of children, with the most-affected among the lot being children with special needs. Confined to their homes with no socialisation and no opportunity to hang out with friends, some of them are showing behavioural changes, often leading to medical issues. Severe anger issues, obesity, mood swings are a few of the common problems they face.
Children with special needs usually consult psychologists, speech and language coaches, and occupational therapists. But since the onset of the pandemic, receiving the same amount of care may not be possible in person. Not all care can be felt remotely as well, and there are many circumstances where such virtual care is inadequate. In many cases, parents have been forced to miss therapy and counselling sessions of their children, which impacts their physical and mental health.
Experts fell the major cause of concern is that due to the prolonged lockdown, these children’s abilities to become independent may get compromised. The issues were discussed in detail in a webinar titled, “Childhood locked down, coping strategies for parents”, organised by Citizen Matters. Experts from the field shared their insights to create better awareness on the problems faced by such children and provided parents with guidance to deal them better.
“During pre-Covid times, children with special needs participated in different events at schools and got to spend time with peers and interact with them. “It helped develop their social skills and made them independent to some extent. But conducting such workshops online won’t be much fruitful and won’t yield the same result,” said Andrew Sesuraj, child rights educator.
Devi Mani, founder of Skooc, a well-tech company and Aarthi Rajaratnam, child psychologist, stressed that though the pandemic has taken a toll on all, parents should try their best to build relationship with their kids and spend as much quality time with them. Other experts on the panel were pediatrician Ravi Kumar and educator Jayanthi Jayaraman.