The Coronavirus and Autism: How do we do this? What do we say/do?

This is tough.  I can tell you first hand that a disruption in routine that you haven't figured out to explain to a person with autism can lead to a great deal of anxiety, "behaviors", sleep disruptions.  My sleep has been disrupted the past few weeks and I don't have autism.  I have felt more anxious than I usually would.  I don't have autism. For our friends on the spectrum, this is especially difficult:

  • People with autism absorb the emotions around them and "project" them onto themselves.  When we're happy, they feel happier.  When we're stressed, they become more anxious.
  • We- as parents, as educators, as therapist- can't help but feel our feelings right now. We may have lost our "safe place" to get through this for ourselves on our own...because we are "so stuck" with our households.  Lucas has told me "I'm stuck" before...when he was repeating the same words over....and over....and over.  We all feel "so stuck" right now!
  • Even though we are socially isolating from other people, we aren't alone.  There are a great deal of professionals and parents putting together resources to help.  Let's see what we can put together here...and please leave a comment if you have additional resources to share.  

Hang in there, guys.  None of this is expected.  Go easy on yourself, your child, your teachers, and your therapists as we figure this out.  Don't forget 1) "put your own oxygen mask first"- take care of yourself or you won't be able to help your child, 2) there are no restrictions on screentime or caffeine during a pandemic!, 3) even when we are physically alone...we aren't alone. We've got this!

  1. General Toolkits for various topics at Autism Speaks.
  2. Covid-19 Information from Autism Speaks.  
  3. Covid-19 Toolkit from UNC.  
  4. Social story from Easter Seals.  
  5. Templates for creating your own social stories at Autism Speaks.  
  6. Free printable for creating a home schedule from Panda Speech
  7. Free Core Word and Fringe Word Boards for AAC from Panda Speech.  
  8. Videos demonstrating reading to children with autism, adaptive materials, etc. 
  9. Podcast below (4 minutes) on how to talk to those with autism about COVID-19

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