During the current pandemic, children everywhere are facing challenges unlike any they have faced before. The uncertainty of knowing when things will get back to normal is scary for children. The disruption to their normal routines and activities is stressful as well. For children with autism spectrum disorder, referred to as ASD, these changes can be especially overwhelming.
To address your child’s unique needs, an evaluation is essential. Researchers continue to find solutions for improving evaluation techniques. The more accurate the testing, the more able professionals are to help your child reach their potential. To better cope during the pandemic, pediatric psychologists suggest strategies for parents.
Explain the Situation in Simple Terms
Always use clear and simple language. Be honest with your child, but keep the information at a level that won’t cause more anxiety. Explain that all the things you do as a family will help keep everyone safe. When kids know they can control the situation to a certain extent by washing their hands and wearing a mask in public, it will give them satisfaction.
Picture books can help younger kids cope. It is comforting for them to know that others are dealing with the same issues they face. There are several children’s books available to help kids during COVID-19.
Create New Routines
Since their old routines have been disrupted, for now, build some new routines for your child.
- Create a written schedule and post it on the fridge. For younger kids, include colorful drawings. These visual cues remind them of expectations. Using calendars also help them better manage the passage of time.
- Develop goals with your child and provide them with some choices.
- Make sure your child understands that when they complete an unwelcomed chore, like homework or cleaning their room, they will be rewarded with time to play outside or to watch a show on TV.
- Set up a work area at home for remote learning, if applicable. This will minimize distractions and create more structure.
- Be consistent with your actions.
If you want assistance developing a routine for your child, consider a program specifically designed to address the sensory processing needs of kids with ASD. These programs help kids succeed.
Encourage Strategies To Cope
Worry and frustration are emotions everyone is dealing with right now. Children with ASD may have difficulty expressing these emotions, which can make them exhibit negative behaviors. Some strategies to help include:
- Stay calm so that your child feels safe.
- Encourage them to express how they feel using stories or drawing pictures.
- Listen to music with your child or remind them to take deep breaths when they feel stressed.
- Encourage exercise, which not only helps the body but also helps the mind. If weather permits, go for a walk or play in the yard together.
Coping during the current pandemic is difficult for everyone, but it creates unique challenges for parents and their children with ASD. Make sure to reach out to friends and loved ones for encouragement and guidance when things seem overwhelming.