For families with a child on the autism spectrum, these times can be uniquely concerning. Disruption to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) kids’ structure and routine can be deeply unsettling, triggering behavioral changes and making the new normal all the more challenging for themselves and their families around them.
But while this unprecedented time brings its own set of trials, it also offers families with ASD children new opportunities—especially to simplify our routines, reconnect with our loved ones, and deepen our bonds. To make the most of these opportunities, families with ASD children should establish new, manageable routines that facilitate structure, healthy functioning, learning, and crucially—fun.
Here are some tips for helping parents navigate the change successfully.
During these times, adhering to a routine that works for parents and kids alike is essential and mutually beneficial. Try to keep your child’s previous routine as much as possible, as this will help your child manage changes in this new reality. Visual tools like colorful charts filled out with the day’s schedule can be vital in reinforcing a sense of control.
Charts will help your child “see” the time to:
Children with ASD are likely to respond positively to the certainty this creates, and it will help them understand at what points of the day they can expect to learn and play, and at what points their parents will be focusing on other matters such as work.
There’s no denying that these are challenging times—and that will mean new routines and structures. Giving your child a “new” activity can empower him/her to learn a new skill and find comfort in it.
Some ideas for “new” activities:
This will require creative thinking and perhaps some trial-and-error, but this is where you’ll create new activities, new memories, and provide your child with autism valuable opportunities to learn, grow, and develop new skills.
Sheltering at home is enough to make anyone go stir-crazy, which is why it’s all the more important to celebrate you and your child’s success in navigating changes.
Some ideas for celebrating success:
Your child will learn that even amid major change, there can be comfort and joy. For families with autism—and for everyone else making their way through the age of coronavirus—that’s a lesson well-worth learning.
If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it on social media or linking to it from your website to help other parents. You may also want to check out our other resources on coping strategies for autism and COVID-19.
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