June 19, 2020

Purdue Experts on COVID-19: Purdue professor provides tips for families with children who have learning disabilities

Mandy Rispoli, professor of special education, offers advice in a video to help families of children with disabilities learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rispoli encourages families to first set reasonable expectations. Families are families first, and not professional trained educators or interventionists. Providing the same intensity and quality of educational behavior services that the child received in school may not be realistic in a home setting, especially during a pandemic. Families should decide what their priorities are right now, like ensuring the child gets daily physical activity. It may be possible to maintain skills already learned by creating opportunities within normal daily activities, like practicing matching while unloading the dishwasher or practicing math by counting jumping jacks.

If there is an increase in problem behaviors, the child’s teacher or service provider may be able to assist with developing individualized supports or a daily schedule. Additionally, a visual calendar of school assignments and deadlines can help the child know what the expectations are each day. Finally, a physical space for learning in an area of the home that’s free from distractions can be helpful.

Rispoli encourages families to remember that this is a challenging time for educators and service providers as well. Offering grace, understanding and creative problem solving is essential. Organizations and agencies like the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, and state departments of education have free and helpful resources online for both professionals and families.

Rispoli’s video is part of a collection on a new website, “Purdue Experts on COVID-19." She is one of more than three dozen Purdue faculty members who are now sharing knowledge pertinent to the pandemic crisis in short videos on the site.

The idea behind this website is for Purdue faculty from a wide variety of disciplines to share their expertise to inform and prepare the public to respond safely and successfully to this pandemic. The videos include big-picture topics such as the economy, unemployment and the workings of supply chains, as well as those closer to home such as food shopping and produce safety, personal finance tips, and exercising at remote work stations.

Faculty members interested in developing a video to highlight their own work should contact their college communications coordinator for approval and ask the communication coordinator to reach out to Jason Fish at jfish@purdue.edu for recording instructions.

The videos should:

* Be authentic and not heavily produced. Visit the “Purdue Experts on COVID-19" site for examples of format.

* Cover two to three major points about the faculty member’s area of expertise as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis.

* Run between two and four minutes (don't exceed four minutes).

* Be designed to reach a general audience with knowledge that can inform their understanding of the virus, the pandemic and its effects.

Once the college communicator has approved the video, the communicator should submit the video to Jason Fish at jfish@purdue.edu.

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Writer: Kelsey Schnieders Lefever

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