Categories: Coronavirus

Caring for Autistic children during COVID lockdown

  1. Start with the child’s typical routine: Structure the home learning & other kid’s activities in the same order as the child was following in the school. Also, try and maintain the same routine that the child usually does. This will help them be comfortable with the transition.
  2. Ensure that the child feels secure & not anxious. Parental anxiety during this stressful situation of lockdown may worsen anxiety & behavioral issues in children with ASD. If the child is older try to make the child understand the situation & assure that the situation will go away after some time. Do not stress on teaching new things at this time. Encourage activities that the child is comfortable & familiar with & that which relaxes a child. Insisting on newer activities may distress the child amidst this situation.
  3. Ensure adequate Physical Activity time in the schedule: Include motor activities, play activities, art & structured simple home games that will provide both physical & mental well-being.
  4. Spend some time outside: Any activities that are done in the house garden, balcony or terrace should be taken up. In that way, you allow the children to get fresh air and sunshine and it will break the monotony.
  5. Prioritize Calming Skills: Everyone is in a panic state right now. And if you show that to the child, he will pick that up too. Hence, it is important to maintain a calm environment at home. Finding activities that both parents and children find calming, which can range from taking relaxing baths, to singing, practicing breathing or simply talking and make that part of a daily routine.
  6. Don’t get too involved in academics: Make learning fun for the child. Activities such as cooking and making crafts promote reading, math and fine-motor skills. While teaching can and should still occur during this time, it doesn’t have to be in a rigid or structured way. Make it a fun learning activity for the child to keep him engaged and will develop overall skills.
  7. Maintain a basic routine for sleep-wake time, eating time, playtime, TV time, etc. Altered sleep patterns like sleeping during the day & not sleeping well at night are common during such times.
  8. Take time off to teach daily living skills: Children who are on the spectrum struggle with daily living skills, such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands or tying their shoes. Now that we all are at home, we have enough time to make them practice those things.
  9. The child may also be kept involved in simple home activities like watering plants, folding clothes, etc. which would make them feel inclusive & useful.
  10. If the child is on medications for seizures or ADHD do not miss or discontinue those. Keep adequate stock of prescription medications & administer them timely.

Dr. Minal V. Kekatpure, Senior Consultant Neurology – Paediatric, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra

Narayana Health

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