COVID 19 is quite a challenging and confusing time for your child with autism. They might not be able to fully understand what is happening and why it is happening. Along with that, the new rules and safety protocols can also be quite a huge change for them. With all of this, children with autism are bound to feel more anxious and irritated. This can lead to frequent breakdowns and emotional outbursts.
This is the very time that you need to stay with your child and reassure them about the current situation. Talk to them and explain what is happening and tend to their anxiety. Listen to their questions carefully and answer all of them in the most detailed manner possible. You also need to explain all the safety guidelines to them and tell them that everything will be fine.
Here are some ways to soothe your child with autism during COIVD 19:
Make a Schedule with your child
Once your child knows what is going on, you need to prepare a new schedule for them. Children with autism need a routine or schedule to function. They like to know what to expect and what you expect from them. Introduce your child to the new schedule. This will also help them feel as if they are in control of this new situation. While making the schedule, talk to your child and both of you together develop it. Make the schedule with pictures and photos. These visual cues will help your child understand the schedule better.
You also have to prepare your child for changes like online therapy or online classes. This will be a whole different experience for them. So sit down with them while they attend the classes.
You do not have to make a detailed schedule. Just make it predictable enough, so that your child gets familiar.
To explain to your child about the new activities, you can use social stories. These stories describe through words or pictures, about the new activities. You can find these stories online. These stories will also help you wonderfully explain COVID 19.
You can make your own by using drawings, cut-outs from magazines, and photos. Make this a fun activity to do with your child during COVID 19.
Reminders Are Important
During COVID 19, due to lockdown, you might lose track of time. So, you need to keep a visual reminder for you and your child with autism to help you plan your day. You can keep visual timers like: in 10 minutes you need to wash your hands, so you can only play for 10 more minutes. You can keep the timer on your phone to make sure you are following a set routine.
This will give a structure to your child with autism.
Virtual Outings Can Be Fun
Since most places are closed due to COVID 19, your child is stuck at home. However, you can still make it fun. Some famous tourist spots offer online experiences. That is, you can explore these places through a webcam right from the comforts of your home.
These videos are quite immersive, and your child can experience them right from their own home. You can search for videos of famous national parks or zoos, and watch as the animals come right to your screen. This is also a great way to prepare your child for trips in person shortly.
Go Outdoors Sometimes
You can also go for a walk (with proper precautions) or go cycling around the neighborhood. Include a lot more family time, and engage in outdoor games like football or just throwing the ball. This will give your child a breath of freshness. However, make sure you take all the precautions and make this a once a week activity.
Your child might resist wearing a mask at first. But you need to explain to them the need, and gradually get them into the habit.
Keep Your Food Stacked
Due to COVID 19, many shops are also closed. This can hamper your regular grocery shopping. In such cases make sure you keep a lot of food and snacks at hand for your child. Children with ASD might have a special diet and only eat a particular type of food. Keep those in check. You should continue to introduce them to new foods, but make sure you have their preferred food at hand.
Create New Rules
When you are making schedules, you should also establish new rules. Due to COVID 19, you might have to work from home, so certain rules need to be framed. You should also use the same or similar rules that your child’s class uses. This will give your child a sense of familiarity.
You can also make some fun rules and post them around the house.
Encourage Your Child
Keep your child motivated as much as you can. These are tough times, so it is easy to lose hope and feel lost. However, this is the time to keep yourself and your child motivated. Ask your child to do some ‘homework’ or make them do some work before other fun activities.
You can also give them small rewards like stickers if they do their work before play. You can make a sticker chart and put a star sticker every time they finish their work before they head to play.
Rotate Their Toys
Due to lockdown, your child might get bored with the same toys that are lying around. This can be a difficult thing to handle. However, one way to deal with this is, by rotating their toys. Limit the number of toys they give your child at one point in time. Then later you can rotate and change those toys. This will keep your child with autism interested and they will not get bored easily.
Start New Activities
This can be quite a difficult thing to achieve. However, this will keep your child interested and motivated. Plan out some new activities that you can take part in during the lockdown due to COVID 19. Write down the goals or new activities that you want your child to achieve. You can also talk to your child and ask them to come up with new ideas for themselves.
Once they know what they wish to do, gather all the materials, and help them get started. Keep checking on your child to see if they can finish the task.
This can also be a really hard time for you. So make sure you also take care of yourself. If you do not practice self-care, then you will not be able to handle your child with autism during COVID 19.