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Health Information For Parents
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is keeping parents and kids home — and away from others — to help stop the spread of the virus. Adjusting to a new routine is stressful for everyone, but especially for children with autism who have trouble with change.
Find ways to help your child understand what’s going on and what to expect from day-to-day. This will help your child adjust and even thrive during this time.
Kids with autism may not know what is going on, or might not be able to express their fears and frustrations.
So it’s important to talk to your child about coronavirus in a way that’s simple to understand. Be clear, direct, and honest. For example, “Coronavirus is a germ. It can make people very sick. We have to stay away from others to stay healthy.”
Then, explain that children will stay home from school and do schoolwork at home, parents may work from home, and any activities or family trips will be put on hold.
Go over important rules, and help your child to:
Give your child space and time for questions, but don’t offer more detail than your child asks for. For example, if your child asks about people who are sick, answer the question. But don’t bring up the topic if it doesn’t come up.
Kids with autism may need extra support to understand what’s going on around them, and what’s expected of them in some situations.
Social stories are stories that teach kids what happens in some situations, and explain what kids should do in those situations. Many social stories have pictures to go along with them. Use social stories, pictures, or other visuals to help your child know the steps for:
You know how your child learns best, so use learning methods that have worked in the past.
Routines are comforting for kids with autism, so do your best to keep as many of them as you can. Stick to regular bed and wake-up times, meal and snack times, screen time, chores, and other household routines. But build in new routines to include school work, breaks, and exercise.
When possible, help your child take control by giving a couple of choices. For example, you could let your child choose what to eat for lunch. When doing school work, you can ask what your child would like to do next.
Visual schedules and to-do lists can help kids know what to expect, while timers and 2-minute warnings can help with transitions.
Having a set routine and clear expectations will help lower the anxiety that can happen when things change.
Kids with autism who feel frustrated, worried, or scared may have more repetitive behaviors (like hand flapping or rocking), tantrums, and other challenging behaviors.
Find ways for your child to express feelings. To help kids work through strong emotions, try:
Also try calming activities, such as deep breathing, music, or watching a favorite video throughout the day. Exercise also can help ease anxious feelings.
Limit the time kids spend on social media or watching scary or upsetting news reports. When kids do hear or read something upsetting, talk about it to help ease fears.
While caring for your child, be sure that you take breaks and recharge too.
Your child’s health care provider, teacher, or behavior or learning specialist can offer more tips to help your child during this time.
Talk to your provider if you notice changes in sleeping or eating habits, or if your child seems more worried or upset than usual. These may be signs of anxiety or depression.
For non-urgent health care or behavioral health visits, a provider might be able to see you through a telehealth visit so you won’t have to leave home.
For more on how to help your child, visit the Autism Speaks website and AFIRM’s COVID-19 online toolkit.
Autism spectrum disorder affects a child’s ability to communicate and learn. Early intervention and treatment can help kids improve skills and do their best.
Your kids are hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19). To make sure they get reliable information, here’s how to talk about it.
Now that coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading through communities in many countries, the best way to fight this spread is for everyone to practice social distancing. Here’s what that means.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is making people sick with flu-like symptoms. Read this article to learn how to protect your family, and to know when to call your doctor.
We’re learning more about coronavirus (COVID-19) every day. Here are answers to some questions you may have about symptoms, care, and protecting your family.
Many people – kids and adults – are worried about coronavirus (COVID-19). But anxiety about it doesn’t have to get the upper hand. Here’s how to calm fears and focus on good things.
Why is social distancing important? Find out how to keep yourself and other people healthy.
When your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, there’s a lot to learn. This 7-step checklist can help you find the best path forward.
Having a plan for the future can help your big kid reach his or her full potential. Follow this 8-step checklist to help your child succeed during the elementary school years.
As your child moves toward adulthood, learn the tools you need to make the transition as smooth as possible. This 6-step checklist can help.
There’s still much to learn about COVID-19. Still, parents wonder what to do if their child gets sick during the pandemic. Here’s what doctors say to do if your child has coronavirus symptoms.
Preparing for coronavirus means being ready to stay home. Here’s how to do that.
We’re learning more every day about coronavirus (COVID-19). Here are some answers to questions about coronavirus and pregnancy.
Anyone who is sick â even if they don’t know for sure they have coronavirus (COVID-19) â should stay home unless they need medical care. This helps prevent the illness from spreading to others.
Looking for information about coronavirus (COVID-19)? Find articles and videos that explain what this virus is, how to prepare for it, how to talk to kids about it, and much more.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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