Autism tips amid coronavirus chaos
This current time is a time of uncertainty and the fear of the unknown like nothing we’ve ever experienced before in our lifetime. It’s scary for all of us as we try to negotiate this new world of social distancing, changed holiday plans, sporting events cancelled and shopping centre chaos, not to mention the financial stress and changes to working environments.
None of us have a crystal ball to be able to tell when this global crisis will be over and how the world will look on the flip side of COVID-19. All we can do is hope that it will pass as quickly as it came so we can go back to normality. However, the reality is it could go on for some time yet, and we’re all going to have to adjust to a different way of living.
For our autistic loved ones, who, for the most part, love structure and routine, this is going to be an extra trying time for them. Here are a few tips that may help you, as a parent or carer, to manage what could potentially be months of isolation.
1. Look after yourself as a priority. If you are stressed, tired and run down you are going to struggle to have the energy required to look after your autistic loved one.
2. Try and keep as much normality in the daily routines as possible to try to avoid stress and meltdowns. If they normally go to school or to a day service explain to them honestly why they can’t go at the moment and try to establish a new normality.
3. Create a ‘school-like’ environment and provide a structure at home for learning. We’re lucky to have technology available to us, so it might be that you set a task for them using their computer, phone or iPad. Most schools are starting to set up online learning environments, if that’s the case, get your head around what this means and help your child to learn what this means and what is expected of them in this new environment.
4. Gather as many sensory items as possible and create a safe space for them to ‘chill out’ if it all gets too much. Provide them with items they like, as well as music or sounds that help them to relax and unwind.
5. Be honest and upfront about the situation without trying to stress or alarm your loved one. If need be use visual prompts to demonstrate the situation. Click here to see the easy read booklet on the NDIS website.
6. Keep in touch with friends and family by FaceTime, Skype or something similar. You may have to get creative with some virtual play dates, depending on the age of your child.
7. See what sort of online activities there are for people with autism. The ICAN Network is hosting an online school holiday program for children with autism aged 9-15 years. There may be other places similar to this who do the same. All businesses will try to adapt the way they do business within this unpredictable environment. Click link for details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a77Y1jtcekc
8. Above all teach and practice good hygiene techniques to help to stop the spread of Coronavirus and of other germs and illnesses. There has never been a better time to do this than right now. The importance of washing your hands thoroughly, showering regularly, coughing and sneezing into your arm instead of your hand or over other people.
It is an uncertain world, it always has been, however what is happening now is unprecedented. If you have other great ideas to add to this and help other parents please email us at email@example.com we’d love to hear and share them with others.