04 SES 03 A, Life In Remote Learning: The Challenges Of COVID To Inclusion
COVID-19 has unexpectedly affected the daily life of the world’s population. Among these measures taken to avoid the virus spread is closing educational institutions, affecting 80% of students worldwide (Banco Mundial, 2020) and over 3.5 million students in Chile (MINEDUC, 2020). Within this new reality, there is great concern about the pandemic's impact on the social and emotional well-being of school-age children.
Social and emotional problems associated with students’ mental health can have a negative effect on their daily lives, generating difficulties regarding their social, academic, and emotional performance and even impacting the mental health of all family members (Totsika, Hastings, Emerson, Lancaster, & Berridge, 2011). Prior to the pandemic, studies reported that between 5% and 26% of children presented emotional or internalizing, and behavioral or externalizing problems (Brauner & Stephens, 2006). Externalizing problems are defined as those involving conflict with others (e.g., aggressive behavior, hyper-reactive and disruptive behavior). Internalizing problems are defined as those related to personal difficulty (e.g., depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and somatic complaints) (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001). Recent studies in various countries mention that stress, symptoms of depression and anxiety, rage, and frustration are some of the emotional issues associated with the quarantine and social distancing, which could have a long-term psychological impact (Brooks et al., 2020; Francisco et al., 2020; Torales, O’Higgins, Castaldelli-Maia, & Ventriglio, 2020).
The pandemic's effect on mental health has not had a uniform effect on the entire student population. The pandemic’s impact on schoolchildren could depend on various factors, such as age, gender, the existence of special education needs, prior emotional and behavioral problems, and economic differences, among others (Schonberg & Shaw, 2007; Singh et al., 2020). According to Willner and collaborators (2020), this burden is probably more significant for those with special education needs (SEN). These children face more significant challenges in the presence of COVID-19 due to the changes in their routines and because they are less tolerant of uncertainty, which could exacerbate their symptoms (Singh et al., 2020).
Multiple studies have reported a greater prevalence of emotional and behavioral difficulties among children with disabilities (Alimovic, 2013). For example, it has been stated that the prevalence of mental health issues in children with a hearing disability is between two and four times greater than in children without disabilities (Dammeyer, 2009; van Gent, Goedhart, Hindley, & Treffers, 2007). This is also reflected in a Chilean study that states that preschool-aged children with a sensory disorder (hearing and/or visual disability) present significantly more internalizing and externalizing problems than their typical development peers (Santa-Cruz, Espinoza, & Hohlberg, n.d.). Several studies explain the need to support and respect the rights of people with SEN, as well as how the pandemic has affected caretakers and families; however, there is little evidence of how the pandemic has affected behavior and emotional problems for this risk group (Navas, Verdugo, Amor, Crespo, & Martínez, 2020).
As far as we know, there are insufficient prior studies that conduct a longitudinal examination of the specific behavioral and emotional problems that COVID-19 has wrought among the school population with SEN. A general objective is to explore the pandemic's effect on children with and without SEN as individual groups and specifically comparing the impact between them. Based on prior evidence in this subject area, we hypothesize that in the Chilean population, as in the rest of the world, greater behavioral and emotional difficulties will be observed than during periods without a pandemic and that this trend is aggravated in schoolchildren with SEN.
Method This study combines the results of a longitudinal study, or Study 1 (S1), which began in 2018 with children attending kindergarten at that time . This sample purposefully considered a number of students with hearing and visual disabilities as well as other types of SEN and students with typical development. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team decided to conduct a second study (S2) during October 2020, using a telephone and online format for the guardians of students that participated in S1. Sample The total sample for S1 was 214 students, of which 81 had guardians who consented to answer a questionnaire over the telephone or online for S2. Of the 81 students evaluated in S1 and S2, 45.7% identified as female. None of the students identified as non-binary or declined to specify gender. The average age of the students participating in S1 during T1 was 70.59 months (SD=8.47), and during S2, it was 101.07 months (SD=10.93). 42% of the sample had a low SES, and 58% had a high SES. Lastly, of the total sample, 32% presented at least one SEN. Measures Differences in emotional and behavioral problems in Chilean students in 2018-2019 and 2020 were evaluated using the Child Behavior Checklist for ages 6-18 (CBCL/6-18) (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) for an analysis of internalizing, externalizing, and specific syndromes. Analysis Descriptive statistics are reported for the specific subsamples: students with and without SEN in 2018-2019 and 2020 on the general scales with their respective t-test for matched samples. Later, case frequency is reported for each of the diagnostic categories included in the instrument. The category distribution in each general scale for 2018-2019 is contrasted with the resulting one in T2 by a multinomial test of expected proportions (χ²). Averages are reported, as a T score, for the syndromes for 2018-2019 and 2020, and the difference between them is reported again, analyzed by way of a t-test for matched samples. The differences in the average of general scales and syndromes from 2020 are compared with a t-test for independent samples for students with SEN or without SEN.
Besides supporting the international evidence, this study contributes to it, as other studies consider the previous assessments from the current perceptions of people close to the children’s situation before that period (Crescentini et al., 2020). Being longitudinal, our study effectively relies on an evaluation conducted before the quarantine period began, while the retrospective evaluation could be influenced by situations experienced during the pandemic. By comparing data for children with and without SEN, no significant differences were observed between the groups, regarding the amount of symptomology present after the onset of the pandemic and the diagnostic distribution between these children. This opposes previous observations that indicate that, even without pandemic conditions, children with SEN presented a higher ratio of emotional and behavioral problems (Alimovic, 2013; Courtenay & Perera, 2020; Dammeyer, 2009; Melegari et al., 2020; Ophir-Cohen et al., 2005; Rajkumar, 2020). However, there are specific differences, which lead one to ponder the increase of problems, according to whether students have SEN or not. In this sense the results show that students without SEN exhibit a significant increase of internalizing problems, which coincides with what is observed on an international level (Crescentini et al., 2020; Zhou et al., 2020), ), while students with SEN exhibit a significant increase of externalizing problems. When comparing data according to the specific scales, while the children with typical development exhibited a significant increase regarding the scales for Anxious-Depressed, Withdrawn-Depressed, Somatic Complaints, Social Problems, Thought Problems, and Attention Problems, children with SEN only exhibited a significant increase in problems related to the scales for Anxious-Depressed and Withdrawn-Depressed. Results imply that measures should be taken during the remainder of the pandemic, especially considering the onslaught of successive waves of contagion and the probability of school suspension with them.
Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA School-Age Forms & Profiles. Burlington: University of Vermont. Alimovic, S. (2013). Emotional and behavioural problems in children with visual impairment, intellectual and multiple disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 57(2), 153–160. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01562.x Banco Mundial. (2020). 72 millones de niños más podrían verse afectados por la pobreza de aprendizajes. Retrieved from website: https://www.bancomundial.org/es/news/press-release/2020/12/02/pandemic-threatens-to-push-72-million-more-children-into-learning-poverty-world-bank-outlines-new-vision-to-ensure-that-every-child-learns-everywhere Brauner, C. B., & Stephens, C. B. (2006). Estimating the prevalence of early childhood serious emotional/behavioral disorders. Public Health Reports, 121(3), 303–310. https://doi.org/10.1177/003335490612100314 Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020, March 14). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it. The Lancet, Vol. 395. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8 Dammeyer, J. (2009). Psychosocial development in a Danish population of children with cochlear implants and deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enp024 Francisco, R., Pedro, M., Delvecchio, E., Espada, J. P., Morales, A., Mazzeschi, C., & Orgilés, M. (2020). Psychological Symptoms and Behavioral Changes in Children and Adolescents During the Early Phase of COVID-19 Quarantine in Three European Countries. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.570164 MINEDUC. (2020). Deserción escolar: diagnóstico y proyección en tiempos de pandemia. Navas, P., Verdugo, M. Á., Amor, A. M., Crespo, M., & Martínez, S. (2020). COVID-19 y discapacidades intelectuales y del desarrollo. Impacto del conf inamiento desde la perspect iva de las personas, sus familiares y los profesionales y organizaciones que prestan apoyo. Santa-Cruz, C., Espinoza, V., & Hohlberg, E. (n.d.). Problemas Socioemocionales en Preescolares con Discapacidad Auditiva, Discapacidad Visual y Desarrollo Típico. Revista Latinoamericana de Educación Inclusiva. Schonberg, M. A., & Shaw, D. S. (2007). Do the predictors of child conduct problems vary by high- and low-levels of socioeconomic and neighborhood risk? Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 10(2), 101–136. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-007-0018-4 Singh, S., Roy, D., Sinha, K., Parveen, S., Sharma, G., & Joshi, G. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents. Psychiatry Research, 293(May). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113429 Torales, J., O’Higgins, M., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M., & Ventriglio, A. (2020). The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 66(4). https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764020915212
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