1. ITV Report

Coronavirus: A look at life in lockdown for families with special needs children

Alex and his mum, Delphine Photo: ITV Anglia

Families with special needs children say they are finding life in lockdown tough.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to usual respite care and resources, and schools are closed to all children except those of key workers.

The past few weeks have been hard for Rhianna and her family.

She has complex care needs meaning lockdown has been especially complicated.

Rhianna and her mum, Amy Credit: ITV Anglia

Rhianna's mum, Amy Humphreys said:

"It has been very very hard. Every single day there's no let up.

"There's no break. As a parent with another child who doesn't have special needs, it's really difficult to look after both."

– Amy Humphreys, Rhianna's mum
  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer

Twice a week Rhianna's specialist school, Chapel Green near Attleborough, is offering some vital respite - a swim in the hydro pool and rebound therapy on the trampoline.

All the children at Chapel Green School near Attleborough have complex care needs and many are extremely vulnerable. Almost half the children are shielding.

Karin Heap, headmistress said:

"Because they have to shield against the virus, it means the parents of our most vulnerable children are particularly affected. They cannot come to school but they also cannot have any respite care. So they're cooped up at home and that's really really difficult."

– Karin Heap, Chapel Green School
Children in the hydropool in Attleborough Credit: ITV Anglia

Many children with additional educational needs attend mainstream school, like Alex from St Neots, who has dyslexia and ADHD.

He speaks to his teaching assistant on the phone once a week. But without the additional one-to-one support he'd normally get he's struggling to keep up with his home schooling.

Alex said:

"I just get so behind. It's a bit like running on a treadmill. I can slowly gain but as soon as I make one mistake I go way back"

– Alex Johnson

For his Mum Delphine, it's a huge pressure - especially with two other children to home school.

She said:

"I'm really struggling mentally. It is very difficult to manage day-to-day life, his brother's and sister's needs, the home needs as well as giving Alex the attention he needs. It is very draining."

– Delphine Johnson, Alex's mum

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