Autism and Coronavirus: Advice for parents – an article by Rosie Weldon
Within the autism community we will face some unique challenges from the Coronavirus outbreak. Some advise for parents below.
1. State the facts
Only state clear objective facts about the virus. Don’t engage or let them hear speculation. They will struggle to separate ‘what ifs’ from what is really happening. Try to answer their questions without giving unnecessary details that may alarm them.
2. Food stocking
Do I think we need to be stockpiling food? No. I honestly don’t. However! If you have an autistic child that will only eat specific things I do not think it will hurt to ensure you have a buffer of those foods. Don’t assume you can go and get specifically what your child will eat, at short notice.
Schools around the world are starting to close, as well as parents working from home. I would be preparing to change to a school holiday routine at short notice. Explaining it as a bonus school holiday may take it away from being a grey area of no school but it’s not a holiday. If you live somewhere this is likely I would consider pre-empting a bonus holiday may be coming (this greatly depends on the child and how they deal with change).
As an adult it is very hard to put distance between what is happening and myself. It’s everywhere online. But children can be protected from that a lot more. Try to put some distance in their mind to stop them thinking it is right outside their door. Keep them away from the news if possible.
5. Let them cope
As autistics we are pretty good at finding our own ways to cope. Little man piled pillows outside his door to ‘stop the virus’. Will it in anyway help? No. Does it make him feel safe? Yes. Within reason let them cope how they need to.
This is stressful for us all and likely a lot of us are worried. Please remember the fact it is governments deciding, or our own stress, doesn’t change that the child is autistic. There is a lot of change. A lot of disruption. They are going to struggle. It being a global virus outbreak doesn’t stop their autistic needs.
I hope this has helped even a little bit. Any specific questions send me a message firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly help.
Stay safe everyone.