Covid-19: how to help an autistic child deal with staying home

The deadly Covid-19 has taken the world by storm and brought everything to a standstill. While the whole world is reeling from coronavirus, a section of the society that seems to have hit hard is the neurodiverse, specifically, children with autism spectrum disorders whose lives are heavily dependent on a routine.

On the occasion of the World Health Day, here are a few guidelines for parents and caretakers of such children to make them understand the situation and stay safe:

-- Explain the situation to your children. Present it to them with simple facts in a communication style that they follow best. Don’t hide or ignore on the assumption that it will not make a difference to them. Tell them why they can’t step out for a walk or why they can’t attend school and so on.

-- Retain any part of their usual routine that is feasible within the confines of your home. Fill in gaps in the schedule with new activities. Make a visual timetable with pictures which will help them cope with the situation better.

-- Online educational program. Often, screen time is used as reward by parents while dealing with children on the spectrum. Find an online educational program that matches roughly with your child’s curriculum and turn this into a win-win situation.

-- Stories & Games: While new schedules and timetables can be drawn out, there may be irreplaceable aspects in your child’s routine. It is advisable to familiarize and desensitize your child to uncertainty and help them manage their anxiety in such times. It can be useful during unique situations that are chaotic and confusing. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to be creative and come up with social stories or games to explain parts of a day that are unstructured or unexpected. Using games of chance or improvisation to practice outcomes that are not predictable could also assist in achieving this.

 

The article is written by G Vijaya Raghavan, Director CADRRE (Centre for Autism and other Disabilities Rehabilitation Research and Education). To learn more, visit www.cadrre.org

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