The world is in a complete panic over COVID-19. This is obvious to almost everyone living through this challenging time. For many parents of children with autism, the intensity of the covid terror can be magnified times ten, making life feel impossible to navigate. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can make any situation more complex, and the pandemic’s added stress often overwhelms parents and their neurodivergent children. This leaves many caregivers feeling powerless and unable to fully stabilize their child on the spectrum.
Autism and covid make for a combination that, if not properly managed, can lead to severe distress or even crisis. This makes it essential that parents understand the virus’s impacts and prepare for how autism and covid may intermix. When considering autism and covid, there are many important questions to consider. How will you cope if your neurodivergent child does contract the virus? What will you do if they need to be hospitalized? If necessary, how will you help them quarantine at home?
These challenges may be further magnified by the fact that many children on the spectrum may not fully comprehend the virus or how it may affect them. This blog post about autism and covid will provide helpful tips on coping if your child does get sick and what you can expect during the process. Remember, remaining patient and calm through any chaos or adversity is always best. It is all going to be okay.
How Will Autism Affect a Child if they Contract Covid?
It is crucial to understand how the virus may impact your child’s autism symptoms as an autism parent. While the exact effects of covid on autism are unknown, many neurodivergent children experience increased behavioral difficulties due to the virus’s changes and disruptions. This can include increased anxiety or depression, difficulty with transitions or routines, heightened sensory processing issues, and irritability. It is essential to understand these potential effects and be prepared for them.
What Are Some Ways to Help a Child with Autism Cope with the Impacts of Covid?
There are several ways that parents can help their children with autism cope with the stress of the covid pandemic. Here are eight simple steps to help your child cope with life during covid so they can feel more secure during the uncertainty.
1) Establish and Maintain a Routine.
A stable routine will help provide a sense of security for your child in an otherwise chaotic time. It is also essential to be flexible and understanding if your child has difficulty following the new routine.
2) Spend Time Each Day Engaging in Activities That Your Child Enjoys.
Make time for activities that they enjoy and make them feel good. This may include listening to music, reading, or playing with their favorite toys. This can help to reduce stress and promote positive emotions.
3) Communicate Openly About the Changes that Have Occurred in the World.
This will help your child feel informed and involved in decisions that affect them.
4) Encourage Your Child to Wear a Mask in Public If Needed.
This will help them to feel safe and protected.
5) Explain the Importance of Social Distancing.
Help them understand why it is essential to stay six feet away from others consistently to help prevent the spread of the virus.
6) Encourage Handwashing.
Practicing good hygiene habits is an essential skill and helpful in preventing sickness.
7) Create a Visual Schedule of the Day’s Events.
Visual schedules help children on the spectrum know what to expect. Use this tool to prepare for testing, doctor appointments, or hospital visits.
8) Discuss and Listen to Your Child’s Autism and Covid Related Concerns.
This will help them to feel understood and supported. It will also help you identify where you can offer more support.
By following these tips, families can help their children with autism cope with the challenges of the covid pandemic.
What Should You Do if Your Neurodivergent Child is Showing Symptoms of Covid?
If your child is displaying symptoms of covid, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. There have been some cases where autism has put children at greater risk for complications. In addition, autism can make it difficult for children to communicate their symptoms, which can delay diagnosis and treatment.
If your child on the spectrum shows any signs of the virus, call your doctor, and describe their symptoms. Be sure to mention your child’s autism status or any other underlying medical conditions. Your doctor will likely order a test for covid and may recommend hospitalization if your child is at high risk for complications.
Treatment for covid is constantly evolving, so it is vital to stay current on the latest information and follow your doctor’s recommendations. With early diagnosis and treatment, most children with covid will recover fully.
How Should You Communicate with the Doctor About Autism and Covid Symptoms?
1) Remain Clear and Calm.
Simply explain what is going on and let them know you are an autism parent that needs help.
2) Talk About and Bring Any Autism Resources or Relevant Information.
This will help the medical staff understand your child’s needs and provide the best care.
3) Prepare for a Long Wait.
Due to the high demand for testing and treatment, many hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed. Bring snacks, drinks, and activities to keep your child occupied while you wait. With some preparation, you can help make a potentially stressful situation easier for your child and yourself.
How Can You Keep Your Child with Autism and Covid Safe?
If your child contracts covid, it will be essential to take extra precautions at home to ensure their safety and well-being. Ensure the environment is comfortable and that familiar objects or people surround them to help keep them calm. You should also make sure that your home is free from any self-harm triggers or items that could be dangerous if handled inappropriately. Monitor your child’s activities to ensure their safety, and limit visitors to prevent further contagion.
What if Your Child Needs to be Hospitalized?
If your child is hospitalized for covid, there are some manageable steps you can take to make their stay as comfortable as possible. Bring items from homes that will help them feel secure, such as favorite blankets, toys, or pictures of their family. Ask the hospital staff about any special accommodations they can make for your child’s autism needs. Finally, keep in contact with your hospitalized child and assure them you are there for them.
Importantly, remain open-minded to the medical provider’s suggestions for keeping your child safe while they have the virus. While hospitalization is not preferable, especially for a child with autism and covid, it might be best for your child and family. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out for support. Take frequent breaks and practice relaxation tips when overwhelmed.
How Can You Get Help if You’re Struggling to Care for a Child with Autism While They Have Covid?
Autism and covid can both be very isolating experiences. Autism can make connecting with people and processing information challenging, while covid can make it difficult to go out in public and interact with others. However, there are ways to get help if you’re struggling to care for a neurodivergent child with covid. Many online resources can provide support and information, and there are also autism parenting groups that can offer advice and assistance. In addition, your child’s doctor or therapist may be able to provide resources or referrals.
Finally, don’t hesitate to contact friends or family for help and support. Caring for a child with autism and covid is challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Covid and Autism: What Now?
COVID-19 is an unprecedented and challenging situation for all of us. If your child must face the virus, remember that you are not alone, and resources are available to help you cope with this additional stress. We can get through this together with patience, empathy, and understanding! Stay safe!
ABA Centers of America and Challenging Times
ABA Centers of America is honored to serve neurodivergent families throughout the country during this pressing time. We understand that families facing covid and autism are under more stress than ever. While much is left to be understood about covid, our understanding of autism empowers us to support your child through the challenging phases of their life. For more information about our high-quality ABA Therapy, call (844) 923-4222 for a free consultation or visit abacenters.com.