With the continued spread of COVID-19, families everywhere are taking precautions to stay healthy. 

But for families who have a child with autism, some of those basic precautions, like social distancing for example, may be especially stressful. 

So we thought it would be helpful to compile some tips and links to resources from various autism and healthcare organizations and websites and share them with you.

Here’s what we found:

#1 Communicate with Your Child

With the outbreak of COVID-19, a lot of changes are happening quickly, which can be scary for any child. Experts suggest it’s best to stay informed, and to explain what’s going on to your child.

The most important thing you can do is make sure you have a conversation with your children providing statistics and facts as soon as possible making them fully aware of what is happening. The goal is not to scare them with information, but help them feel informed and prepared. Be mindful of media influence contributing to anxiety, and potential misinformation being shared by peers and other sources. Make sure you are gathering information and updates from reputable sources,” New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara emphasizes. 

It’s also important that you communicate this in a way that your child will best understand. Autism Speaks suggests that could be using pictures or stories, and provides a flu teaching story that may be a helpful example. 

Not sure how to go about that conversation? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out a few of these links for advice from experts in the field:

1. How Do I Talk To My Child with Autism About Coronavirus?
2. How To Explain A Global Health Crisis To Children with Autism
3. What Should the Autism Community Know About the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Have you already talked to your child about these changes? Leave your tips for other families in the comments below. 

#2 Establish a new routine

For many children and families with autism, routine is vital.

According to Applied Behavior Analysis Edu, having a routine can be a very powerful tool for combating depression, anxiety, and the uncertainty of daily life. 

“Routine can be powerful in reinforcing a feeling of well-being and stability for autistic individuals. When that sense of stability and wellness is fulfilled, then it can actually be easier for them to handle other challenges,” Applied Behavior Analysis Edu writes. 

So what can families do now that schools are closed and regular routines have potentially been put on hold? 

Establish a new “normal!”

“Children tend to like predictability and routines, and it can be tricky without school to structure the day,” clinical psychologist Katherine K.M. Stavropoulos, Ph.D., explains. “It might help to make a daily schedule while schools are closed so that kids know what will happen during the day and when it will happen.” 

Check out this schedule from Mommyhood101 as an example:

#3 Practice Good Hygiene

The Coronavirus Disease spreads mostly through person to person contact, so it’s imperative everyone practices good hygiene. While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes the risk of a child becoming sick with COVID-19 is small, there are still steps everyone can take to help stop the spread of the virus. According to the CDC, some of those include:

  1. Washing hands often with soap and water, or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  2. Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces daily in your household, like tables and doorknobs
  3. Do laundry- from dirty clothes to washable plush toys, try washing items in the warmest appropriate water setting and dry them completely

Want more tips? Go over the Autism Society’s list of resources and tips here

If you want to learn more about the disease and how you can plan around it in your household, check out these guidelines from the CDC: Get Your Home Ready

Stay Positive and Stay Safe

Please check out the helpful links throughout this blog post and let us know in the comments if you rely on any additional resources that are worth sharing with other members of the community!

Here’s a Fun Game to Pass the Time!

Are you looking for ways to entertain your child while they’re home? See if they can find all the puppies and penguins that escaped from the zoo!