Emily Manzo discusses the benefits SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) online sessions have had on her son Felix
We were having breakfast on a Tuesday, mid-April, 2020 and my son Felix was listing his online appointments for the day. “First we have regular Zoom class, then we watch the Linda video, then we have Arlene Zoom Class.” This last part he said with special emphasis, a similar tone that is used when he’s hopeful about getting dessert or watching another show. He looked up for my confirmation, and I nodded that yes, it was Tuesday and yes it was Arlene Zoom Class day.
When I first spoke with Michael Boardman at Adapt at the end of March, I never would have believed how excited Felix would be for his online SEIT sessions. His regular SEIT, to whom he had grown incredibly attached, wasn’t able to offer the services because of her own childcare demands. So when I imagined us trying this with a total stranger, I saw us juggling the iPad, keeping him away from the red LEAVE button and trying to stay engaged. He was already really struggling with his school sessions and needed to be bribed with snacks and treats in order to sit for those 30 minutes. The idea of this happening successfully with someone he had never even met before seemed particularly far-fetched.
…And then we had our first session with Arlene, and it was total magic. She figured out right away what to draw him in with, asking important questions about Halloween, Pete the Cat, Ritz crackers, space and the ocean. She used the share screen whiteboard function and had us all laughing as she made funny sounds and moved around ovals and circles to write letters or illustrate a scene. She reinforced the content of the lessons from his regular class in a way that made him totally on board for those sessions, too.
We have been so fortunate in many ways, and are all healthy and safe during this crisis. But like a lot of people, we are hanging on to our routines and the parts of our lives that are distraction and joy. I don’t want to think about what these few months would have been like without Arlene Zoom Class. We are so grateful for her contagious energy, infectious laughter and incredible teaching that has carried us through a dark moment.
For more information about early intervention and SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) services, please contact Michael Boardman at (347) 633-2243 or MBoardman@adaptcommunitynetwork.org.