COVID 19 Information
What Should I Tell My Child About Coronavirus?
It's important to talk to your child about coronavirus in a way that's simple to understand. Be clear, direct, and honest. For example, "Coronavirus is a germ which can make you sick but we can do things to stay safe and healthy." Explain that although children are attending school now (April '21), some parents may work from home and some activities and family trips will be put on hold.
Go over important rules, and help your child to:
- Wash hands well and often (for at least 20 seconds).
- Try not to touch their nose, mouth, and eyes.
- Stay at least 2 metres away from people who don't live with you.
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering in public places.
Give your child space and time for questions, however try not to offer more detail than your child asks for. For example, if your child asks about people who are sick, answer the question but don't bring up the topic if it doesn't come up.
How Can I Help My Child Understand?
Children with autism may need extra support to understand what's going on around them and what's expected of them in some situations.
At Woodside Academy we use social stories to teach children what happens in some situations and explains what children should do in those situations. We use social stories, pictures, or other visuals to help your child know the steps for:
- washing hands, wearing a mask, and other ways to stay healthy and safe
- staying at least 2 metres away from others who don't live with you
- distance learning
- new routines at home
You know how your child learns best, so use learning methods that have worked in the past.
How Can I Help My Child Adjust?
Routines are comforting for children with autism so do your best to keep as many of them as you can. Stick to regular bed and wake-up times, meal and snack times, screen time, household chores, and other routines but build in new routines to include school work, breaks, and exercise.
When possible, help your child take control by giving a couple of choices. For example, when doing school work, you can ask what your child would like to do next.
Visual schedules and to-do lists can help children know what to expect, while 5 second warnings can help with transitions.
Having a set routine and clear expectations will help lower the anxiety that can happen when things change.
How Can I Help My Child Stay Calm?
Children with autism who feel frustrated, worried, or scared may have more repetitive behaviors (like hand flapping or rocking), tantrums, and other challenging behaviors.
Find ways for your child to express feelings in order to help him/her work through strong emotions:
- talking together
- doing crafts
- playing or acting out fears
- for kids who are nonverbal, using augmented (or alternative) communication devices
Also try calming activities, such as deep breathing, music, or watching a favorite video throughout the day. Exercise also can help ease anxious feelings.
Limit the time your child spends on social media or watching scary or upsetting news reports. If children do hear or read something upsetting, talk about it to help ease fears.
While caring for your child, be sure that you take breaks and recharge too.