With so many unpredictable things happening due to the coronavirus pandemic, people with autism often get confused by what’s happening around them. Why are they not allowed to go out? Why they need to stay 6 feet away from people? Here are some tips you can use to explain to them what is going on and what to expect from day to day. This will help them to adjust and thrive during this uncertain time.
Discuss the change in routine.
Explain to children about coronavirus in a way they can understand.
Be clear and direct. For example, ’Coronavirus is a germ where you can get from people. It can make us very sick. But we can do things to get away from it.’ or ‘You will attend school from home and mummy may work from home as well.’
Give them space and time to process and question.
Do not offer too much information than the child asks for.
Try not to comment on the situation negatively, it may worsen their anxiety for example, more and more people have died from coronavirus.
Adjust New Routines
Regular bed and wake-up time
Meal and snack times
Schedule regular times for school-work, breaks and exercise
Letting them make the decision by giving them a couple of options e.g. what to have for lunch
Having a visual schedule or a to-do list can help them know what to expect in the day
People with autism may display more repetitive behaviours e.g. hand flipping or head shaking or other challenging behaviours when they feel frustrated, anxious or worried. Here are some activities and tips you can do to reduce their anxiety.
Talking to them
Putting on music and sounds e.g. white noise
Reading them a story
Writing or drawing together
Watching a favorite video
Limiting the time they spend on social media or upsetting news about coronavirus
Wearing A Face Mask
Wearing a face mask can trigger anxiety for some autistic people with hypersensitivity because they find it difficult to tolerate the sense of touch and smell of a face mask. It’s important to note that autistic people are exempt from the rules of wearing a face covering in the enclosed places.
Here are some tips you can use:
Practice wearing one before wearing one for real
Find the most comfortable type of material e.g. cloth masks
Spray the mask with a favorite scent
Wear a face shield if they cannot tolerate a mask
Carry ‘I Am Autistic’ card in case they cannot wear one or being challenged by other people
Listen to favorite music or sounds to help reduce the anxiety
Before caring for people with autism, make sure you take breaks and recharge Too! 😉
Remember to monitor your own anxiety before taking care of your autistic family member. Before having a discussion with an autistic child or an adult, if you appear highly anxious when talking to them, they can sense your anxiety and it will be hard to calmly explain the current situation to them. The support can be valuable to them if the conservations don’t go well.
Hope you find these tips useful. Free feel to comment down below to share what other strategies you use to support your loved ones with autism.