Virtual or remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven challenging for even the best of students over the recent spring months and as this new school year begins. It may be exponentially more challenging for those children and teens with learning differences, special needs or other disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, approximately 5,000 children and teenagers are living with MS in the United States. MS is an autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system and can hinder the ability to learn, process information, and engage in social and physical activities.
Child Neurology Consultant’s board-certified and fellowship-trained neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Kane recently shared thoughts on some of the positive and negative impacts of virtual learning for kids with MS in an article for HealthCentral.
Dr. Kane says one of the most common adverse effects of staying online for school for an extended period of time is the social isolation it brings from not being with classmates and the potential for depression.
“The biggest problem that all kids seem to have is social isolation,” notes Dr. Kane. “They miss seeing their friends. That is especially true of teenagers, and most kids with MS are teens.”
As many families debate whether or not to allow their child to go back to school in person with more and more districts throughout Central Texas opening up, there are some key advantages of both returning to school in person and remaining virtual.
Pros for returning to school in person:
– Opportunity for social interaction
– More hands on/direct instruction from teachers
– Often easier for younger kids to stay engaged and focused
Pros for staying virtual at home:
– Physically navigating the day is often easier within the comforts of home
– Students can stop/start or rewatch recorded lessons as much as needed for understanding, as well as control volume (as many with MS are sensitive to hearing)
– Less exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses since those with MS are typically immuno-compromised
Before making a decision as to where your child will continue learning, have an honest discussion with them about their thoughts — desires or fears about going back to school — as well as with their physicians, teachers and additional counselors who may help out if they have an IEP (Individualized Education Program).
In addition to MS, Child Neurology Consultants of Austin also has experience treating a wide range of other neurological and rheumatic disorders in children from 0 to 21 years old.
For an appointment with one of our specialists or to learn more about our services, please visit us here.