Single father of son with special needs handling distance learning, and unemployment

Imagine being a single parent, recently let go from your job, waiting for unemployment, while also preparing for your special needs child to begin distance learning. That incredibly stressful situation is a reality for some families thanks to the pandemic.

When we first met Dave McGrath and his son Titan, they’d recently found out Titan had COVID-19 in early July, following an outbreak at a Marysville daycare he attended.

“The whole COVID thing really threw a wrench in my work,” says McGrath.

Since then, he’s been let go from his job and is praying for unemployment to come through soon. But his biggest focus is helping his son Titan through these unusual and isolating times.

“Just recently he recited the ABC's all the way through for the first time, and that was huge for us.”

Titan, age 8, has a speech delay and is in special education classes at school. Next week, he’ll begin classes through zoom.

“It makes sense for older kids who can do assignments but for special needs kids what are they going to do?”

It’s a lot to juggle.

“One of the things that’s going to be a struggle is getting him to sit still and pay attention to the screen,” says McGrath.

Distance learning and job hunting-all in tight quarters in the RV they live in.

“I’m going to have to be right there watching him, it’s not like you can turn on the computer and walk away.” He’s not sure what life will look like when he does get another job.

He’s pouring much of his energy into teaching Titan himself, but he says there’s nothing that can really substitute being in a classroom with a teacher and other students.

“It's just not the same, they can do stuff like say ‘go run around the house and find  something red and bring it to me, ok find something green,’ you know but it’s just not the same as hands-on.”

With so much uncertainty about the future, McGrath is focusing on the silver linings of it all, the wonders of being a key part of the new things his son is learning these days.

“He's learning at his own pace, and as long as I keep on it, as long as he's making advancements I’m perfectly happy.”