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Corona Virus has put our lives into chaos. It has disrupted our daily routine and dropped us into uncharted territory. Everybody is facing a tough time adjusting to this new situation where all of us are locked at home. Children with autism are facing a tough time due to quarantine and social isolation. Their normal routine is completely broken. They can’t go to schools and mingle with their classmates. They can’t meet their teachers who love them unconditionally. And, most importantly, they can’t meet their therapists who teach them various techniques to survive in this world.
Children with autism have problems with change. And, COVID-19 has brought big changes in their life. Most parents are facing a lot of challenges in dealing with children with autism during the pandemic.
Without therapies and interactive classes, children with autism may show various
in this situation. So, parents should be on alert mode. They should try to keep their children happy, calm, busy, and engaged during the pandemic.
How parents can keep their autistic children busy in COVID-19
Here are a few handpicked tips from specialists to keep children with autism busy, calm, happy, and engaged during pandemics.
1. Tell social stories with pictures: Social stories are simple stories educating children about a social situation. These stories help children to understand the current situation and the strategies to deal with it. Children with autism are God’s special creations. They don’t understand such technical terms like COVID-19 or CoronaVirus. You have to tell social stories to make them understand the pandemic. To make the stories interesting, use colorful pictures and visuals. You can draw pictures or cut images from magazines to depict social stories. Otherwise, you can download social stories online.
Social stories play a significant role in helping children with autism to understand the current scenario and develop the power of critical thinking. Divide your social stories into different parts so that they can understand COVID-19 and the ways to deal with it.
An example: You can break your social stories into 3 chapters. First, explain what a virus is and how it affects the health of people. Next, explain CoronaVirus and its aftereffects. Then, introduce the concept of personal hygiene, social distancing, and new routines to combat this deadly virus.
2. Give them a structured routine: Consistency is the key for children with autism. Abrupt changes trigger anxiety and meltdowns in them. A set routine helps them to know what they can expect during this pandemic, and what they should do. It helps them to have some kind of control during this turbulent time. Create a visual schedule so that your child can understand what to expect next.
Follow a set routine every day so that your child knows what can happen in the next few weeks. It’ll be best if you can create a schedule similar to your child’s usual routine. For instance, wake your child at the same time in the morning. Give him breakfast and lunch at the same time. Involve them in various kinds of activities that happen in the school. Teach them one lesson from their textbooks every day. Ask them to go to sleep at the same time at night.
3. Watch movies and read storybooks online: Children with autism love to watch movies. Watch animated movies or comedy movies with your children. Share hearty laughs with your kids to keep them entertained.
Read storybooks to them. If you don’t have storybooks at home, then you can browse the online libraries, and download eBooks from there.
4. Playing outdoor games in the backyard: Involve your kids in outdoor games to keep them engaged. Try to play those games that involve a lot of movement activities and social interactions. This will help them to work on their speech and develop motor skills too. Organize fun activities like treasure hunts in the backyard. After the treasure hunt is over, have a picnic with your children. Give them their favorite snacks. Make sure you don’t give them any snacks that trigger anxiety.
5. Involve your children in positive activities: Fun activities help to strengthen bonds with children, especially those with an autism spectrum disorder. Involve your children in various kinds of activities like baking cookies or cooking foods. Ask them to clean the table after finishing dinner. Make sure you don’t say any harsh words to them. There are a few words that you should never say to people with ADHD or autism as they hurt them. Be patient when you involve them in any kind of activity.
6. Set visual reminders: This is an extremely important tip. Set visual reminders on your smartphone or microwave to let children with autism know when an activity will start and when it will end. This would help you to limit their screen time on iPad, television, or a computer. They can watch their favorite programs on television and computers, but not for an indefinite period.
7. Observe behavioral changes: If you find signs of anxiety and depression in your children, then call their therapist. Inform the therapist about behavioral changes, mood swings, outbursts, and tantrums. He can give you more tips to tackle them during this sensitive situation.
Just like there are different types of jobs for people with autism, likewise, there are lots of tips to help them cope with the stress and anxiety triggered by social isolation. Use the aforementioned tips to keep your children with autism happy and busy during this uncertain time. Make sure you take care of yourself too because that is crucial for the well-being of your family. Your family members and children are completely dependent on you. If you’re not well, they won’t be fine either. Do what makes you happy. Pursue your hobbies or read that special book you have left unfinished due to a hectic work schedule.
Don’t worry! Your children will be fine. Be patient and take care.
This guest post was submitted by Ralph on Twitter. Here is his link.