Families of students with special needs fear districts aren't thinking about them

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An 11-year-old girl was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), which means she can't control her arms like most kids her age.

Despite her condition, it never stopped Mackenzie Chambers from excelling in school.

She's constantly making the honor roll, and she was even a contestant at the Houston Rodeo art fair just before the event was shut down.

Due to her condition, Mackenzie's mom taught her how to draw and write using her mouth.

"My pencils have these mouth grips on it, and I just hold onto it like that and write like that," said Mackenzie while demonstrating during a Zoom call.

Since the pandemic, just like every student, she's been learning online.

Now as we get closer to the new school year, Linette Chambers, her mom, has yet to hear what the plan will be for New Caney ISD.

Linette said she has many worries and a lot of unanswered questions.

"How are they going to enforce the mask thing when my daughter writes with her mouth, and I know autistic kids, they don't like the touch of certain things or things on their face," she said.

Lynette said she's speaking out for the parents of children with disabilities.

She wants the governor and our local school leaders to realize that not all of the students are the same.

"It's a stressful thing and all of us have our stresses," she said.

Mackenzie is on the fence about this upcoming school year due to her doubts and fears of getting sick.

"Fifty percent of me wants to go back in school, but the the other 50 wants to stay home and learn," she said.

ABC13 reached out to new New Caney ISD, and was told over the phone that there was no plan yet.

Lynette says the assistant principal of Woodridge M.S.told her there would be a district meeting next week, and they may possibly know a plan soon.

"I know for me, I would love to home school my daughter, but I'm also a single mother," she said.

She hopes district leaders take into account all the single parents whose children may be just like Mackenzie.

Adjusting to a new routine, like having to wear masks, can be stressful for everyone, but it can be especially challenging for children with special needs. Here are some tips from pediatric experts with the organization "Nationwide Children's" on how to help your child adapt:

  • Social Stories: use stories, pictures, and other visuals to help your children understand steps for washing hands, social distancing, new routines, why people wear face masks
  • Pairing and Shaping: research shows pairing and shaping may help with adapting to new routines
  • Pairing is a method for introducing unfamiliar objects, like a face mask. Start with the goal of simply wanting your child to enjoy holding the mask. Have them become familiar with it by being silly and enthusiastic
  • Shaping uses rewards (praise, high fives, small tokens) for each step towards a larger goal. This strategy can best be used once your child is comfortable in the presence of something new, like a mask


For more information on helping your child with special needs adapt, visit the Nationwide Children's website.

You can learn more about AMC here.

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