The unexpected way COVID-19 affected one COD student

The unexpected way COVID-19 affected one COD student

Gabriella Gallardo

Pedro Gamez enjoys watching movies like “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” while hanging out with his friends. He even likes to volunteer at places that help animals. However, like all young adults facing the pandemic, social interactions and outdoor events became limited with everything being online. 


He was in the middle of his senior year in high school when the pandemic began. When transitioning to college, at first, there was a lot of anxiety and questions that arose for him and his family. But when he started taking classes at COD his perspective changed. 


Pedro shared, “When it came to College of DuPage with online classes and a transition school called Connections in Naperville, I felt like it was the best thing that could ever happen because the classes are one click away. With COD classes I can just look at recordings on the blackboard and learn everything at my own pace and reply to things I didn’t catch at the time”.


Pedro has a schedule he follows daily, which challenges his organizational skills and time management.


Pedro was even diagnosed on the autistic spectrum when he was two years old and was immediately enrolled in special education programs. It is common to assume many students are struggling with the pandemic especially those who are on the autistic spectrum. The main worries of parents whose child is on the autistic spectrum were that the child would lack social interactions in order to navigate through life. 


Luckily at COD, Autismerica is open for anyone especially those on the autistic spectrum, where conversations do not have an end and everyone is heard. Pedro is a proud member of the club and even receives a lot of support from his family.


Pedro’s father, Felipe, realized he was having more interactions and support for his son because his job is a hybrid. 


“It’s the same as students, I have more time at home because of the setup,” said Felipe.  “I’ll be here at home to support him to try and put materials in front of him so he can complete them. I’ve been having more quality time for us to bond and I can help him if he needs help learning if the concept is too complex”.


Felipe continues to share, “I believe Pedro has been becoming more independent. Since he was in the online setup going to school every day and everything else, he was very self-advocate for what he needed. He knows how to ask for help and support from his teachers and groups. It’s a wonderful program we have in Naperville. It continues to be more sophisticated. The disability is there but time and time again he proves he built a mechanism to cope with it.” 


To Pedro and his dad, the quality of support improved because the employees understand how the transition and their student’s development are crucial. 


It comes to show, it’s easy to cope with the pandemic when you have the right support whether it’s through school or family. You will never know what value’s you have until that value is tested. The pandemic tests the values of families.


Pedro shares, “I believe my dad is a role model. He’s been teaching me great life lessons for my whole life. Plus, I’ve been emailing my teachers a little more because it’s remote and everything. Sometimes I would ask questions on the Blackboard and on Zoom. I had a few teachers that delayed responding to my emails, but other than that I feel like they have been very helpful.” 


Pedro expresses, “I can’t speak for everyone in Autismerica if they are struggling or not. A lot of times it doesn’t look like it. Honestly, it depends on who they are and what is their best way of learning like some people would work better in person, I myself used to. But I’ve been cool with this online learning and it’s been better for me.” 

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