Coping with an autistic child during lockdown

DURBAN – Parents are finding it challenging to educate their children as well as entertain them during the lockdown. However, it is more challenging for a parent with an autistic child to manage their child’s behaviour with the current restrictions. 

The month of April is world autism month. A time when we have an opportunity to increase understanding and acceptance of individuals living with autism.  

How does autism affect kids?

There is no telling for sure how a child with autism actually feels but children on the spectrum find it difficult to understand what is happening around them. They are unable to interpret social cues and make sense of communication. They find it challenging to communicate their emotions and needs. This leads to them experiencing immoderate levels of anxiety, having meltdowns and expressing their emotions physically.

Covid-19 and Autism

With the current lockdown restrictions, parents of autistic children may find it difficult to communicate the importance of these regulations and how to reduce the spread of Covid-19. 

Here are some tips that will help parents in communicating as well as managing their autistic child’s behaviour:

 

  • Create a Routine

 Routine helps autistic children understand what is happening around them. It introduces some form of stability and eases their anxiety. 

Routine boards should be put up and kept in a simple format. Stick on visual aids of activities should be provided. This is an interactive method which gives the child the opportunity to visually interpret their activities for the day. (suitable for Non-verbal Children)

 

 

  • Social Stories

Social stories are used as a way to communicate important messages to autistic children. It helps the child understand appropriate behaviour and consequences of behaviour. Parents can make up social stories with appropriate visual aids to explain the importance of washing hands, social distancing and appropriate behaviour when unwell. (Suitable for non-verbal children)

 

Autistic children also enjoy sensory-stimulating activities. They have difficulties processing sensory information and these activities can help stimulate them. You can take simple tasks that focus on a specific sensory and this will engage an autistic child. 

Here are a few sensory activity examples:

  • Scented playdough
  • Sensory bottle 
  • Tasting game
  • Finger painting
  • Car wash
  • Homemade musical items

It is important to remember that every autistic child has their own personality and preference. So stick to it and try not to take them too far out of their comfort zone.

 

This article was in collaboration with Ms Alina Reddy, BsocSc Psychology and Sociology. Reddy is a LSEN educator working in autism.