As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, finding ways to practice social distancing with a child who has autism is difficult. Autistic children sometimes have issues with boundaries. Though some do not like people touching them, others have a hard time not touching people or the objects around them. Parents may find it challenging to help their kids and keep them safe at the same time. They can rely on some professional tips to help their autistic children with social distancing whenever they need to be out in public.
Related resource: Top 25 Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Online
Follow a Set Routine
Kids with autism often do well when they follow a set or established routine every day. Following that routine is difficult for parents who can’t leave the house and kids who are out of school. Parents should attempt to use the same schedule that their children follow at school. If they have lunch at noon and playtime after, they can do the same things at home. It’s helpful to disrupt the routine that kids follow as little as possible, even if it means making changes to the parents’ routines.
Give Them Facts
Parents may worry about talking to their kids about COVID-19 because they assume that the subject is too complex or difficult for them. Kids understand more than adjusts think though, which is why it’s important to sit down and have a discussion with them. There are podcasts and videos designed for kids that go over the basics of the virus in simple and easy to follow terms. Though kids may have some questions about what they see and hear, they can quickly learn the reasons why they can’t go to school and why they need to limit their time outside.
Make it a Game
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first recommended avoiding groups of more than 100 people and then dropped it to groups of 50 and then 10. It now recommends social distancing and staying at least six to 10 feet away from other people when outside of the home. Parents can turn this into a game and make it a little more fun for children with autism. They can ask them to estimate how far away they need to stand and reward them when they have the right answer.
Create a Quiet Space
Parents can also create a quiet space in the home where the child feels safe and comfortable. This might involve pillows, blankets, toys and books that they like. It also requires that parents let others in the house know that the space is reserved for that child. If the child gets upset or has a tantrum, the parent can let the child cool down in this spot before joining the rest of the family.
Practice Healthy Hygiene
When ABC News talked to parents and individuals living in group homes, they found that it was difficult for them to practice social distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic. Those who cannot stay a safe distance away from others can use healthy hygiene practices to stay safe. This includes washing their hands when they come in from the outside or come into contact with another person and spending more time in their rooms and less time with their roommates.
The COVID-19 made things difficult for parents who have autistic children at home because those kids don’t understand the disruptions to their daily routines. Those kids might throw tantrums or try to run out of the house and cry or shout. Some of the ways that parents can help an autistic child during this time of social distancing include creating a quiet space and talking with them about the Coronavirus.