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Teachers of special needs students hoping curriculum will meet their needs

Posted at 7:38 PM, Mar 16, 2020

NORTH SALT LAKE — Hallways were empty Monday as teachers prepped their new online classes, but for one group of special needs teachers, this proves especially difficult.

Mitch “Mr. Mitch” Henline works at Spectrum Academy.

Henline’s classroom typically has nine special education students on a normal day, and Mr. Mitch would be teaching them life skills.

“We have whole lessons on how to hold conversations, how to greet somebody, how to greet a stranger,” said Henline.

Now, Henline’s sending home packets for parents to work with their kids during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Something that’s nearly impossible to do for therapists at Alternative Behavior Strategies (ABS) who work with children on the Autism spectrum—their work is all about increasing social interaction.

“We are going to have lots of children who are going to have lots of disruption to their routine,” said Jeff Skitbitsky, founder of ABS.

Staff members at ABS typically see three to four kids with Autism each day and sessions can last for hours.

Skitbitsky said they’re hoping to shuffle the schedule around so therapists are seeing the kids two to three times per week.

“We don’t want to take away a needed medical treatment for the child, but we have to find ways to do it appropriately,” said Skitbitsky.

Where they can, Skitbitsky said they will do telehealth sessions.

For in-home visits, therapists will have to increase their own personal hygiene as well as evaluate their patients' family environment.

“We’re looking at being able to wash material and keep toys clean,” said Skitbitsky. “Every time we get into a home, we’re looking at the same series of questions as the CDC.”

For Henline, he’s hoping the curriculum he’s sending home will meet the students' needs.

“I’m really going to miss the kids,” said Henline.