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National

Additional Work Falls On Parents As More People Stay Home

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Across this country, millions of parents have abruptly taken over day care and teaching, even as they continue work, and this week, we're going to hear from some of them.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Larina Pierce is a special education consultant and advocate in the Charlotte, N.C., area. She is also the mother of two girls.

LARINA PIERCE: I feel like I'm more of a house manager now, if I had to give myself a new job title. I find myself trying to keep everyone on track and trying to keep the older one out of trouble. And I do my own work in the cracks.

INSKEEP: Pierce is working from home, helping special needs families as they adapt.

PIERCE: Most of my client families are in more of a survival mode, and I'm just trying to reassure them that getting through a day with your child with special needs really is your success. And if there's learning that goes on, that's great, but if it just looks kind of like a hot mess, that's OK right now.

MARTIN: This is personal work for her. Pierce's oldest child, who is 12, has Down syndrome and, before the pandemic, was partially home-schooled. Pierce says it's been hard without her daughter's normal support network, like the local Down syndrome center and sitters and grandparents.

PIERCE: This tends to be a common theme with children with Down syndrome. They are very sociable, and people matter to them in ways that almost don't have words. Like, they really love their people, and they need their people. So she's feeling it hard that she only has the three of us all day long.

INSKEEP: Pierce says she needs her people, too. She's missing that outside connection, which became evident during her younger daughter's birthday. Instead of a party, they had a drive-by parade. Neighbors drove by honking and saying happy birthday out their windows.

PIERCE: I mean, I've never had a birthday card tossed at me (laughter). But it was tossed at me from the mom's van. My daughter got it. The parade went round and round. My mom was dressed up like a clown. Like, the desire for connection is still so deep, but the ways we can actually connect are very different. I just wanted to hug people. I think my kids did, too.

MARTIN: Larina Pierce says her family, like all special needs families, is meeting the moment because that is just what they do.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOLDMUND'S "ABOVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.