Parents concerned about impact of virtual learning on students with autism

In Montgomery County, the parents of many students with autism and special needs are asking for schools to allow in-person learning for their children.

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Tom Rowse’s 19 year old son, Greg was very involved in school at Thomas S. Wootton High, activities and his jobs at CVS and Food Lion.

However, Greg has autism and when the pandemic began he couldn’t understand why everything stopped. He came down with a few medical issues including an ear infection and his parents think it was all just too much.

"He started to combat the stress and trauma with catatonic freezes," says Rowse.

Greg was diagnosed with a condition called Autism Related Catatonia.

There is little known about the condition but doctors say it is serious.

Greg who had never in his life spent the night away from home has been in the hospital 46 days and counting. His parents are unable to visit due to the COVID outbreak.

Karen Boden says her typically happy 7th grader John is suffering.

He has high functioning autism but finds virtual class extremely frustrating and isn’t comfortable turning on his camera. Their tutor, Cameron Buckingham says at one point in the spring his teacher just gave up. "She got to a certain point where she just ended the call."

Both of these families want to see Montgomery County Schools allow in-person learning for special needs students. They believe it can and should be done safely with the proper precautions in place.

A Montgomery County Schools spokesperson tells FOX 5 they are working with health officials on a plan to bring in small groups of special needs and ESOL students in the coming months.

They say they will make an announcement by mid-September.