Students at Pattison’s Academy learning life skills virtually

 During the COVID-19 pandemic, therapists and special education teachers at Pattison’s Academy are using new technology and techniques to help their students.

Pattison’s Academy is an education and rehabilitation academy for children with disabilities and their families in the Tri-County area. After the governor ordered schools to be closed, the teachers and therapists had to figure out a new way to help the students.

“Now we’re meeting their needs in this digital era that we’re in,” Executive Director Paige Knowlson, said. “This has been an interesting transition for us and a new point of growth for us to meet our children’s needs while still keeping them safe in their homes. But it’s been an incredible adventure and we’re still seeing wonderful progress.”

Students are still learning life skills like brushing their hair, washing their faces, and sitting up. For the occupational therapist, Nicole Mieczkowski, the change has been better than expected.

“I was not sure how it would work, but the families have been wonderful and super supportive,” she said. “When the families are excited, it helps get the kids excited and helps make the sessions run smoothly.”

There have been challenges and new questions that come with switching to virtual therapy sessions.

“When we started this virtual pivot, there was zero guarantees that we would receive any program reimbursement for what we were doing because there was no clearance or guidance for reimbursement for virtual services at the state level,” she added.

A recent grant from the Coastal Community Foundation has been a big help since some of Pattison’s services are no longer reimbursable.

“The grant from Coastal Community Foundation and people who contribute to our emergency relief fund help provide those more basic needs to our families,” Knowlson said.

The virtual transition has also allowed families to get more involved in their children’s lessons.

“It’s a unique opportunity because the families are the ones who are actually hands-on so they’re learning so much in this process,” Knowlson said.

She hopes to start virtual tours so the public can see what the school is doing and possibly allow people to join a virtual therapy lesson. You can find the latest on their COVID-19 precautions and their emergency relief fund by visiting Pattison’s website.

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