Shifting routines among families with school-age children with disabilities due to mandatory school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic in Québec, Canada


  • Gustina Giordano McGill University
  • Katja Kathol McGill University
  • Dr. Tara Flanagan McGill University


COVID-19, family routines, learning differences, disability, school closures


This study explored the changes in routine and emotional themes experienced by families of children with learning differences or disabilities due to mandatory school closures during COVID-19 in Québec, Canada. A questionnaire was used to compare the family routines of 21 participants before and after the school closures. The study’s findings highlight an overall concern regarding the social and emotional outcomes of long-term school closures. Family routines after the school closures included increased technology usage, lack of socialization, cease or decline of extracurriculars and therapies, and an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety among school-aged children with learning differences and disabilities. The authors suggest enhanced support services to mitigate negative outcomes among school-aged children with learning differences and disabilities.

Author Biographies

Gustina Giordano, McGill University

MEd, is a doctoral student at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at National Louis University. She holds a master’s degree in educational psychology from McGill University. Her main research and theoretical interests lie in the areas of social inclusion and social policy for persons with developmental disabilities. She is particularly interested in the impact of routines on families, the postsecondary outcomes for young adults with developmental disabilities, and best practices in treatment. She is currently a learning specialist at the North Shore Learning Clinic, working directly with students who have learning disabilities to help improve executive functioning abilities as well as school and postsecondary outcomes.

Katja Kathol, McGill University

BA, MEd, holds a master’s degree in educational psychology from McGill University. There, her research focused on improving outcomes for students with diverse needs in school and society. She currently works in the field of customer education, advancing eLearning best practices with a person-first approach. Still an active member of the Montréal community, Katja also sits on the Board of Directors at the Sexual Health Network of Quebec, where she seeks to reduce local and provincial barriers to sexual health education.

Dr. Tara Flanagan, McGill University

is an associate professor within the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology (ECP). Her main research and theoretical interests lie in the areas of social cognition, social inclusion, and social policy for persons with developmental disabilities. She is particularly interested in the transition from school to the community for young adults with disabilities, self-determination, and in the notions of adulthood and quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum. She has also served as chair of McGill's Joint Board-Senate Committee on Equity Subcommittee on Persons with Disabilities. This subcommittee is comprised of a wide array of students, faculty, and staff across McGill University who are invested in recommending university policy and in promoting a more inclusive McGill.


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How to Cite

Giordano, G., Kathol, K., & Flanagan, D. T. (2024). Shifting routines among families with school-age children with disabilities due to mandatory school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic in Québec, Canada. McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill. Retrieved from