How To Help Children With Autism Adjust During The COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to our world health system, most of us are staying home away from other people. We have to adjust to a new way of life to prevent the virus from spreading and take care of our health and our loved ones.

It can be tough to experience sudden shifts in our lives, especially for children with autism who could be facing emotional distress at the effects caused by the pandemic. 

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According to Donna Murray, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, people with autism find comfort in doing routine activities and this particular time may stress them out. “Depending on developmental levels, the difficulty of understanding why a routine is disrupted, how long it’s going to last, wondering when it’s over—all of that adds a lot of unknowns. It can add anxiety.”

Children with autism may display extreme resistance to change. Adding to the strains is the closure of kindergartens, schools, and other facilities, children with autism feel attached. With that, here are some of the ways you can help children with autism to cope amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Introduce New Daily Routines

Children with autism take solace in predictable daily routines. Since you have to introduce them with a new way of living for a while, create a structured schedule that gives them a sense of control in uncertain situations. Work with them in creating new daily activities. For this purpose, make a visual schedule and post it somewhere your children can see so that they can check on it regularly.

Don’t overcomplicate their schedule. It doesn’t even have to be time-based to take off the pressure in keeping up with it. You can also help your kids regain control by providing options and letting them make decisions. Allow them to choose the meal for dinner or ask them what they would like to do next while doing school work.

Use Auditory Or Visual Cues

Having reminders can help your kids to know how long an activity should last or other essential things they need to perform. Use visual or auditory reminders to give them hints on their next events.

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Talk To Them About The COVID-19 Pandemic

Children with autism may not be able to express their fears and frustrations at face value. But helping them to understand the current situation can make them grasp what is happening. Be direct and honest, and don’t offer other information that they don’t need. It may create further misunderstandings and complications. 

Easily explain to them that they will do their schoolwork at home, and any activities outside will be on hold. Talk to them about important things, such as:

  • Wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching their nose, mouth, and eyes. 
  • They can’t stay close to other people, practice social distancing
  • Wearing cloth covers or face masks when going outside.

Apply Social Stories

To help your children process and comprehend new information, you can use social stories. Social stories are stories that help teach kids to distinguish what’s happening and what to do about it. It goes with pictures, storytelling, and other visuals to help them engage in the topic.

You can use social stories in further explaining the essential details about the following:

  • COVID-19
  • How to stay healthy
  • Social distancing
  • Hygiene
  • Homeschooling
  • New routines

Use other learning methods that have worked before. Give them time to process new knowledge. Some children with autism need to roleplay and will always ask questions to reduce the stress they’re experiencing. You can search online to help you in creating social stories. Or make your own social stories through drawings, pictures, or photos.

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Help Your Children Express Their Emotions

Children with autism perform repetitive behaviors when they feel worried or scared. They may have tantrums and other actions that are challenging to address.

You can support your kids with their emotions by trying calming activities, such as deep breathing, watching films or videos, or exercise with them to ease anxious feelings. You can also try doing the following:

  • Writing
  • Talking with each other
  • Arts and crafts
  • Using augmented communication devices for nonverbal children 
  • Playing out their fears

Avoid making your children watch, hear, or read upsetting news, as this may increase their anxiety. If they did so, talk to them in a calming manner. Limit their time on social media to prevent further misunderstandings.

You must take care of yourself as well as much as you take care of your children. They’re going to need you healthy and reliable as your family goes through this pandemic. Most importantly, stay with them. Your comfort as a parent is the best support your children can have.

Ways To Help Parents Cope With Autism

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Parenting is both a privilege and a responsibility. Anyone can attest that it is one of the excitements that life could offer. It is a joy beyond compare for parents to see their children grow up with a healthy life. There is nothing that parents would not do for their children.

But what happens when parents feel something is wrong with their child, wondering why he has bizarre behaviors compared with other children? When all of a sudden, their child is diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder, how are they going to face this challenge?

The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride.

Denial, disappointment, sadness, pain, fear, shame, stress, depression, anger and whatever negative emotions we may think of, are the feelings that parents usually go through upon knowing their child’s condition. As human people, these reactions are all normal. Just like any emotional pain people go through, parents of ASD children will experience these emotions at first before they wholeheartedly accept their child’s condition. Having a child with a chronic disorder like ASD, there is no other way of dealing with it but to acknowledge and accept the fact that their child is with ASD. Parents are the first support system for a child, and a terrible call for parents to take in, but then again there should be no backing out. If there is a person who should remain calm and secure for a child with ASD, they are the parents. No matter how hard the struggle parents are required to be a stronghold of determination, courage, and hope that everything will get by.

“Growing up in an environment where you potentially had little control over your caregiver’s emotions — and potentially lots of emotional turmoil — can lead to you needing control and structure in adulthood. This coping mechanism is a way to “bring order to the chaos.” –Forrest Talley, a California-based clinical psychologist

Source: gl.wikipedia.org

We’re All In This Together.

According to Teresa Bolick, Ph.D. “Whether new to the world of ASD, facing a life transition for a son or daughter or struggling to determine a course of treatment, parents often express overwhelming confusion.”  The complexity of ASD is a challenging journey for both the parents and the child. We always take focus on the child as the most affected person, notwithstanding the role the parents play in this battle. Parents also require support and care to come from other members of the family and social circle. As life continues for this family, parents will experience a saturation point or exhaustion period, and this can lead to adverse outcomes. The sources of fear and depression can arise from a foreseeable crisis of rejection and discrimination that society may have for their child of their family. At times, there will be a point that each parent may ask or blame each other for why this happened to their child.

Education is the first step to understand the situation entirely. The more you are aware of what is happening to your child, the more you are equipped with the necessary steps on how to counteract it and face the obstacles undoubtedly. Get information from your pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or counselor. These are reliable health professionals that can provide substantial information concerning the condition of your child.

Another mode of getting support is by joining a group of parents who are also going through the same experience. You have one common denominator in this situation – a child who needs constant support from parents. If a parent is new to this challenge, there are also those who have come a long way and dealt with every pressure and problem. For sure, their vast experience can give you some insights on how to handle yours.

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A novel way to get support or answers is through joining online chat rooms or answering forum questions. Here the parents share and answer some questions coming from other parents who have some queries about their child and ASD in general. This can also be an excellent opportunity for parents to meet and form social relationships with other parents. “Traditionally, intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focused upon reducing interfering behavior and teaching language, academic and self-help skills.” Marlene Driscoll, MA, LMFT said.

Lastly, don’t forget to make time for yourself. Take a breather for a while. If possible, have someone look over your child and spend some quality with each other. We know this can be a handful, but putting yourself first will not endanger your child. This can be done once a month – just to buy some time to recharge and be well again.

How Can You Help A Child With Autism?

Every parent has different challenges and struggles when it comes to raising her children. According to psychology, the common denominator about all parents in this world is that they want nothing but the best for their kids. Just like them, you also want your child to become a better individual as he starts to grow up. However, there are a lot of things that are not under your control. No matter how much you make an effort to make everything perfect, there will always come a time when you will be bombarded with hardships.

 

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For today’s articles, the primary topic that we are going to discuss is how one can become a better parent to a child with autism. Finding out about your child’s condition can be difficult, especially if you have no idea where he got his autism spectrum disorder. Do not fret because you are not the only one who is going through this situation. The best part of all is that there are now effective ways on how you can treat this condition. Below is a list of tips that you need to remember if you want to help a child with autism:

 

Consult An Expert

 

Make sure to avoid making a diagnosis on your own, without consulting an expert about your child’s problems. “There are sensory issues to consider, educational decisions to be made, medical interventions, safety concerns, and therapeutic decisions, to name just a few.”  A reminder from Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC. The moment you start to notice that there is something peculiar in the behavior or personality of your child, do not hesitate to get in touch with a medical doctor immediately. Look for a psychiatrist that you can trust so that you can bring your child to him. There will be a series of tests that can help determine the actual or real medical condition of your child. Be sure to listen to what the doctor has to say. The said professional is going to provide you with the do’s and don’ts’s in dealing with a child positive with autism.

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Spend More Quality Time

 

Do not forget the significance of spending quality time with your child as it can help a lot in his development. You need to see to it that he is your number one priority, regardless of how busy you are at work. “what’s more important than the quantity of time you spend with your kids is the quality of the time you do have together.”  Francyne Zeltser, Psy.D. said. Keep in mind that the more you spend playtime and special moments with your child, the closer your relationship would become. If this continues to happen, he will start to feel comfortable in talking to you and letting you know what goes through his mind. Always remember that you need to make an effort in finding out what he is thinking every now and then so that you can immediately correct him if there is something wrong.

 

Accept Everything About Him

 

Never treat your child’s condition as a defect or damage. Take note that your love for him must not diminish just because he has an autism spectrum disorder. Your child needs your all-out support, love, care, and understanding. Learn how to accept his quirks and peculiarities. At the same time, you have to act normal when dealing with him. Never make him feel that he is different because of his autistic tendencies. Instead, explain to him what his condition means but continue to act like a regular person when dealing with him. “Another potential stress reducer is practicing acceptance,” Dr. Keefer said. “Parents who accept where their child is today seem to do better.” That is according to Amy Keefer PhD, a clinical psychologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

 

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Use Positive Reinforcement

 

One of the effective ways to train your child to become better is to use the method of positive reinforcement. All you need to do is to reward him whenever he does something great. As such, it is crucial that you watch out for his behavior on a day-to-day basis. Make sure to point out to him his good deeds and let him know how proud you are with the progress that he is making. The more you give him rewards for good deeds, the more he will become motivated and inspired to continue showing excellent behavior not only for you but also to others.

 

Create A Treatment Plan

 

Another thing that you have to consider is to focus on creating a treatment plan for your child’s condition. Keep in mind that it is best to start treatment while he is still young. In so doing, there is a better chance that your child can easily catch up with the treatment. As much as possible, think of your child’s welfare when you create a treatment plan. Remember that he must feel comfortable with whatever procedure or process you have designed. It is recommended to set a stable or predictable schedule to make things easier for him.

 

Be a great mother to your child by following the tips mentioned above.

 

 

 

The Highs And Lows Of Raising A Child With Autism

What usually excites parents after childbirth is observing their baby’s growth and development. But what if your child starts to manifest somewhat different developmental signs? According to studies, symptoms of autism usually appear even before a child reaches three years old. These include problems in communicating, difficulty maintaining eye contact, nervous mannerisms, and even social withdrawal. It is essential for family members to be able to spot these signs early on to help the child better manage autism.

One day in the life of a parent of a child with autism is a mix of emotions and experiences that are both happy and sad. Here are few of the highs and lows of raising a child with autism:

The High Points

Source: medicaldaily.com

Continue reading “The Highs And Lows Of Raising A Child With Autism”

Tips In Improving Your Child’s Mental Health

The role that parents play in the life of their children is important. A recent study shows that the attitude and personality of a person are shaped during his childhood years. This is the primary reason why parents sometimes get the blame when their kids end up as irresponsible members of the community. Because of all these, it is imperative on your part to see to it that you do everything you can in raising your kid. As a parent, everyone expects you to help your beloved child grow into someone who can change the complicated world and make it a better place for everyone.

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Continue reading “Tips In Improving Your Child’s Mental Health”