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UA professor hosts webinar for parents with children who have disabilities

Anyone can participate in the webinars, plus each session is recorded so you can watch if you missed one.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — For many parents having to become a teacher overnight has not been easy, and for parents teaching their children with disabilities, not having the right resources has made it even more difficult.

Starting Thursday (April 9) parents of children with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in a webinar giving tips for teaching children with disabilities during the pandemic.

“Just to feel supported and encouraged during this time is important for our mental health,” said mother Rachael Burgin.

Burgin's 10-year-old daughter Leah is autistic and blind. She also has three other kids who are at home because of COVID-19. Without school and the extra help, the last few weeks have been a little tough. So she says she’s looking forward to joining the webinar.

“I’m not an expert, I’m not a special education expert, I’m not a behavior analyst, I’m not a psychologist, I’m just a mom and I don’t know what to do so it’s nice to have those experts at home giving me ideas and just taking some of the pressure off of me,” Burgin said.

Peggy Whitby is a professor at the University of Arkansas in the special education department. She teamed up with Center for Exceptional Families to put together three 45 minute seminars for parents like Rachael to help them at home.

“We have interdisciplinary group of presenters from across the united states that have stepped up to present, each 15 minutes is a lecture and then we have a handout that each participant can download,” Whitby said.

Whitby says she’s very glad to help offer these classes and encourages parents of children with disabilities to participate.

“I think it is critical we are offering this to families at home right now. Families who have children with disabilities even under normal times are under more stress and we feel that they’re under a great deal of stress right now,” Whitby said.

Whitby says it's important parents keep their kids engaged to make sure they don’t lose any progress made at school. 

As a parent, Burgin says with the resources offered through the webinars, she can help to keep Leah on track.

“It’s going to be life-giving to have some input some information, some ideas some of that stress taken off our shoulders for what do I do,” Burgin said.

Anyone can participate in the webinars, plus each session is recorded so you can watch if you missed one. All you have to do is go to the Center for Exceptional Families website. 

The first session was Thursday (April 9) afternoon. The next two are on April 23 and May 7 at 2 p.m.

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