Angie has a number of mental health conditions, including ASD, anxiety, anorexia, and OCD. Though she is extremely high functioning and intelligent, she has minimal faith in her own abilities. She gets quite annoyed with creative tasks, preferring to work independently with facts.
Angie needs to clarify her understanding regularly to feel confident in her work, which results in asking lots of detailed questions. The pace of Angie’s lessons is constantly adjusted to suit her needs and give her the opportunity to resolve her queries. This is something she would not be able to do in a mainstream setting.
The anonymity that online lessons affords Angie circumvents much of her anxiety and allows her to feel safe. It takes away the awkwardness of having to make eye contact or behave in an expected way. Angie is able to feel relaxed and be herself, safe in the knowledge that her teachers would never recognise her if they passed her in the street.
Online lessons afford Angie the ability to focus on learning and leave her other difficulties at the door – effectively re-inventing herself as a student.
Advantages for Angie
- Lessons that follow a consistent format
- Curriculum linked to personal interests
- Opportunities to ask hundreds of questions to clarify understanding without impacting other students
- No evidence of frustration, as she has more time to process her thoughts
Sam has severe ME. He is very bright and keen to be successful in gaining his GCSEs; but he is unable to cope with too many lessons and, frequently, he can only manage half-an-hour at a time.
Travelling to school makes Sam too tired to complete his lessons. By learning online, he can stay home and not worry about his appearance during lessons or expending energy making small talk with his peers.
Revision resources (virtual exercise books) are always available to Sam so that he can do a little bit of work whenever he feels able. This helps him to avoid information overload.
Advantages for Sam
- Shorter lessons accommodated
- Breaks between activities
- Personalised courses, where work is available when health allows
- No travel to school
- Lessons accessed from the comfort of his home (often in bed in his PJs)
- Lessons scheduled around his availability, with flexibility to change his timetable if regular appointments get rescheduled
Precious suffers from severe anxiety and selective mutism. She does not like being with anyone, even family. Being surrounded by people in mainstream has caused her to refuse to attend.
For the first time in many months, Precious is engaging in education and enjoying her lessons. She likes the fact that nobody can see her and she has her own physical space. She communicates through the chat box and whiteboard – there is no pressure for her to speak.
Online lessons allow Precious to stay at distance in a safe and calm atmosphere. She can now show how capable she is. And, perhaps most importantly, she has begun to speak in lessons.
Advantages for Precious
- No pressure to talk – no peer pressure
- No feeling of being watched
- Precious feels in control and can work at her own pace, allowing time both to think and make mistakes
- Engagement is on her own terms
- Can signal to teacher when she is struggling with a simple emoji
- Teachers take time to talk and value her viewpoint
- Teachers are less formal and more naturally friendly