November 3, 2020 Five tips to manage children on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder during the Covid -19 pandemic
The Covid -19 pandemic has posed several challenges for managing children with special needs. Children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) find it difficult to handle the routine disruptions that the pandemic has resulted in.
Here are 5 tips that can help manage an ASD child better during the Covid -19 pandemic:
- Educate the child about the Covid -19 pandemic
The explanation must be very simple, precise, and concrete keeping in mind the unique cognitive abilities of a child on autistic spectrum. Augmentative and alternative communication (methods used to supplement or replace conventional speech or writing for the benefit of those with impaired cognition) can be a useful aid in this case.
Visuals and concept mapping serve as great educational tools especially in case of very young or low functioning ASD children.
- Structure daily routine
Children on the ASD spectrum tend to develop difficulties in functioning when their routines are disrupted. Hence, it is important to plan daily activities and subdivide tasks throughout the day.
Using a visual activity board in the child’s room could be a technique that the parent can use where the child can put up daily activities that are planned for the child. The caregiver can track the activities easily through the day or even involve the child in this activity.
- Choose games to suit the needs of the child
It is a good idea to encourage the usage of semi structured games that suit children with impaired social skills such as building blocks therapy and others that can serve to improve cognitive abilities.
Parents and caregivers should be cautious with children on ASD indulging in video games or online gaming as it poses a risk of internet addiction and further social isolation of the child. It is a good idea for the parents to supervise or limit these games.
- Initiate or continue the psychotherapy either at home or online
Covid -19 pandemic is an event which could be very difficult for the ASD child to comprehend. The most common co-morbidity that can manifest in this situation among ASD children is anxiety and it could make functioning of the child very difficult.
Therefore, it is very important that the child continues with either an in-person therapy at home (if possible) or with an online therapist who regularly engages with the child.
- Schedule home-based or online therapy for parents.
Managing a ASD child can be very stressful, especially in the pandemic when the child is at home with an unstructured schedule. This is likely to cause functional and emotional difficulties to the child. The parents may also be finding it difficult to cope up the pandemic effects of uncertainty, fear of infection and sometimes, even a loss of employment.
It is strongly advised that a qualified therapist is spoken to on a weekly basis so that even the parents are equipped to deal with the special needs of their children in these circumstances.