How To Help My Autistic Child Cope With Quarantine

Best Ways To Help An Autistic Child Cope coping during the coronavirus outbreak coping with quarantine coping with transition help my autistic child how to help my autistic child with change how to help my autistic child with transitions pandemic and autism special needs and quarantine special needs and staying at home staying home with autistic child

special needs and quarantine

Pandemic Panic: 

The 3 Best Ways To Help An Autistic Child Cope During The Coronavirus Outbreak

by Jennifer Schmidt, M.Ed.

Wow, does anyone else feel like they are smack dab in the middle of a movie trailer right now? 

If someone would have told me a year ago that we’d be quarantined in our house with only our immediate family, told to be socially distant and stay six feet apart, and would finish the 2019-2020 school year teaching remotely, I would have slowly stepped away from that crazy person!

There are so many changes and so much uncertainty; all I can think of is how hard this must be for my students with autism and their families. Our friends on the spectrum thrive when there is a set structure and routine and they know what’s next, and, frankly, all of that has been stripped away.

So, how do we support students and their parents during this time?

How does this impact their mental health?

How can we possibly work on social skills at a time like this?

Here are some thoughts from a newly appointed head chef, homeschool monitor, e-teacher, author and advocate and friend of people with autism. I hope it helps you during this difficult time when I am sure that you, too, are wearing many different hats!

 How To Help My Autistic Child Cope With Quarantine :

special needs and the pandemic

Tip #1:

Create a schedule and plan each day.

In my classroom, I work with students who have autism and often they struggle with executive functioning deficits. This means that many of my students need assistance organizing their work, tracking their assignments, and completing (and submitting) work on time.

My student teacher from The University of Dayton, Sarah Allworth, and I have been suggesting that parents help write a list of all assignments each Monday and then have their child follow a schedule each day. We have created a blank template and several examples that you can use. People with autism are often visual learners, so adding a schedule is imperative for success both in school and when working on school at home! 


autism and the coronavirus outbreak

Tip #2:

This tip is connected to the above mentioned suggestion.

When creating a schedule with your child, consider adding in activities they enjoy for recreation and/or physical activity each day.

In most meetings I have been in lately (Zoom or Google hangout, of course) there has been a lot of discussion about our students’ mental health. It is vital that we prioritize our young people’s mental health and help them find productive coping strategies to combat stress and anxiety.

For example, right now Peloton is offering it’s app free for 90 days. This app includes workouts from strength and treadmill to meditation and yoga, and even coached outdoor walks. I have been encouraging my students to add physical activity to their day and to do something fun for recreation each day as well. While I don’t judge a student’s idea of “relaxation and recreation,” Netflix does not count! 


autism and the pandemic

Tip #3: 

Practice social skills with family members.

Most of my day is spent teaching social skills/pragmatic language to students with autism through the PEERspective model. While teaching social skill acquisition is challenging remotely, it’s not impossible by any means. “Social” doesn’t have to be something that happens in person and often there are fun ways to practice social skills with your family. I think intentionally practicing social skills with family members could be an ideal way to scaffold these skills which, with practice, can help them generalize more quickly to other settings.

One creative way to encourage your child’s social skill acquisition is through games (sneaky, right?) For example, my student teacher and SLP, Rilie McKaig, and I created two versions of Social Skills BINGO for our students of varying levels. On this BINGO board of activities, you’ll see activities ranging from playing a board game with a family member to calling or texting a friend.

These BINGO boards are available to you as a resource and I hope that they help make this time more manageable and keep your loved one with autism social during this time of social distancing.


 Resources for Tip #1: Create and use a schedule!

DAILY SCHEDULE Template

 

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

7:45-8:15

 

 

 

 

 

8:15-8:45

 

 

 

 

 

8:45-9:30

 

 

 

 

 

9:30-9:45

 

 

 

 

 

9:45-10:15

 

 

 

 

 

10:15-11:00

 

 

 

 

 

11:00-11:30

 

 

 

 

 

11:30-12:15

 

 

 

 

 

12:15-1:00

 

 

 

 

 

 

1:00-1:45

 

 

 

 

 

1:45-2:00

 

 

 

 

 

2:00-3:00

 

 

 

 

 

3:00-4:00

 

 

 

 

 

4:00-4:30

 

 

 

 

 

4:30-6:45

6:45-7:45

7:45-9:45

9:45-10:15

10:15-

 

SAMPLE DAILY SCHEDULE

Option 1:

 

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

7:45-8:15

Sleep 

Wake up/ Get ready for day

Sleep 

Sleep 

No School- Sleep 

8:15-8:45

Wake up 

Google Meet  

Wake up/ Get ready for day 

Sleep 

No School- Sleep

8:45-9:30

Eat breakfast, get ready for day

Google Meet/ Debrief

Google Meet

Sleep 

  No School- Sleep

9:30-9:45

Answer Emails 

Answer Emails 

Google Meet 

Sleep  

No School- Sleep 

9:45-10:15

Review Paperwork 

Eat breakfast 

Google Meet Debrief 

Wake up/ Get ready for day 

  No School- Sleep

10:15-11:00

Make a rubric

Facetime my friends 

Answer Emails/ Eat Lunch 

Eat breakfast/ Watch TV 

No School-

Wake up/ Get ready for day 

11:00-11:30

Facetime my friends 

Grade Essays 

Grade Essays 

Answer Emails  

No School- Eat breakfast

 

11:30-12:15

Google Meet Call 

Grade Essays/ Rollerblade 

Lunch/ Watch TV 

Social Distance walk with my friend (6 feet apart!) 

No School- Watch TV rearrange my room 

12:15-1:00

Lunch/ Watch TV 

Lunch/ Watch TV 

Throw the ball with my dog 

Review Paperwork 

No School-  Go on a long walk with my dog 

 

1:00-1:45

Answer Emails- Make this daily schedule:) 

Clean my room 

homework 

Lunch/ Watch TV 

No School- Lunch 

1:45-2:00

Uhomework 

Google Meet 

Grade Essays 

Grade Essays 

No School-

Check Google Classroom 

2:00-3:00

Grade Essays 

Google Meet 

Homework 

Grade Essays 

No School- School work 

3:00-4:00

Take a walk 

Google Meet Debrief 

Watch TV 

Put grades in Gradebook 

No School- Play games with my family members 

4:00-4:30

Watch TV

Watch TV

Clean around the house 

Answer Emails 

No School- Facetime my friends 

4:30-6:45

Me time/Dinner

Me time/ Dinner

Me time/ Dinner

Me time/ Dinner

No School- Cook Dinner/ Eat

6:45-7:45

Homework

Clean/ Homework

Me time

Homework

No School- School work

7:45-9:45

Watch TV/ play games with family

Watch TV/ play games with family

Me time

Me time

No School-

Netflix Party a movie with friends

9:45-10:15

Get ready for bed

Get ready for bed

Me time

Me time

No School- Watch Tik Tok til I fall asleep :)

10:15-

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

Me time

No School- Watch Tik Tok til I fall asleep :)

 

SAMPLE DAILY SCHEDULE 

 Option 2:

 

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

9:30-9:45

 

Wake up 

 

Wake up  

Wake up

9:45-10:15

 

Get ready for the day 

Wake up 

Get ready for the day

Get ready for the day

10:15-11:30

 

Finish homework from English 

Get ready for the day 

Finish homework from Government 

Check Google Classroom for all classes and write down homework 

11:30-12:15

 

Lunch/free time 

Finish homework from Health 

Lunch/free time 

Lunch/free time  

12:15-1:00

 

Free time 

Lunch/free time

Free time 

  Free time 

1:00-1:45

 

Check Google Classroom for all classes and write down homework for the next week

Free time 

Make sure all your Government assignments are turned in and finished  

Finish homework from 

Chemistry 

1:45-2:00

 

Free time

Free time 

Free time

Free time 

2:00-3:00

 

Free time 

Finish homework from Scholarship Algebra 

Free time 

Free time 

3:00-4:00

Free time 

Make sure all your Chemistry and English assignments are turned in and finished 

Free time 

Any assignments that you did not get to finish/ turn in 

Finish any other work from 

Chemistry 

4:00-4:30

Write down all missing assignments 

Free time 

Free time 

Any assignments that you did not get to finish/ turn in  

Turn in work for Chemistry on Google classroom 

4:30-6:45

Dinner time/free time

Dinner time/free time

Dinner time/free time

Dinner time/free time

Dinner time/free time

6:45-7:45

Finish homework from Chemistry

Free time

Make sure all your Health and Scholarship Algebra assignments are turned in and finished

Free time

Free time


SAMPLE DAILY SCHEDULE 

Option 3: 

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

Finish all homework in Chemistry

&

Turn it in

Finish all homework in English

&

Turn it in

Finish all homework in Health

&

Turn it in

Finish all homework in Algebra/ Trig

&

Turn it in

Finish all homework in Health

&

Turn it in

Finish all homework in Government

&

Turn it in

Check Google Classroom for Homework for next week

& Write it down

 

 


Resources for Tip #3: Staying Social!

Social Communication Bingo 

 Level 1

Social Skills BINGO

Play a board game with a member of your family.

Offer to help your parent(s) with a chore.

Ask your parent(s) to tell you a story about when you were a little kid.

Call a family member and talk to them on the phone.

Ask someone in your house if they’d like to watch a movie with you.

Make “Above the Line” choices all day long:)

Talk to your parents or a friend about how this situation (being out of school) is a “Can’t Control”.

Give someone in your family a compliment. 

Smile and wave at a neighbor when you are outside.

Text a friend something positive like, “I hope you are doing okay, I miss you.”

Call a friend or family member and tell them what you’ve been doing with your time. 

Write a letter to your parents about what you are thankful for.

We miss you!



FREE SPACE




Write a positive sign to put up in your window for people walking outside.

Email a teacher something positive.

Tell your parents what zone you are in and what feeling that is. (Red, yellow, green, blue).

Tell someone in your family about a friend from school.

Tell someone in your family a funny story that happened at school this year.

Ask someone in your family if they want to listen to your favorite song.

Call a friend and ask them something like, “What have you been up to?”

Ask a family member if they want to go on a short walk in your neighborhood.

Measure how far 6 feet is. That is how far you should stay from others when outside your 

house.

Ask your parents if you can help make dinner.

Tell someone in your family a funny joke.

Share with a family member what your favorite subject in school is and explain why.


Social Communication Bingo 

 Level 2, advanced

BINGO

Write a letter to yourself to open when quarantine is over.

How have you gone out of your comfort zone in the past month?

Explain 2 ways you are practicing social distancing.

Call a family member and talk to them on the phone.

Ask someone in your house if they’d like to watch a movie with you.


List 3 ways you are dealing with  stress and focusing on wellness.

Talk to your parents or a friend about how this situation (being out of school) is a “Can’t Control”.


Give examples of 3 small talk topics.


Smile and wave at a neighbor when you are outside.

Ask a family member if they want to go on a short walk in your neighborhood.


Call a friend or family member and tell them what you’ve been doing with your time.


Write a letter to your parents about what you are thankful for.


Write two “SMART” goals for yourself related to E-learning 


Text a classmate in Communications class.


Email a teacher something positive.


Call a classmate in one of your  classes.


Play a board game with a member of your family.


What are two coping strategies that help you during this time?


Work out for 20 minutes or more (have you tried the Peloton App? It is free for 90 days!)

Check all of your social media accounts- are they school/job appropriate?

Start a conversation with someone in your family by asking: “How has your day been?”


Check all of your social media accounts- are they on private? (Why or why not?)


Take a long walk outside for a “break” during school work time. 


Write a positive sign to put up in your window for people walking outside!


Meditate for 15 minutes before going to bed (try the Calm App).

 

 



Other suggested reading related to this blog post:

Why Didn't They Just Say That? PEERspective - A Complete Curriculum

 FLIPP The Switch: Strengthen Executive Function Skills

Make Social Learning Stick 

Playing It Right! Social Skills Activities for Parents and Teachers of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Including Asperger Syndrome and Autism

Making Visual Supports Work in the Home and Community


Jennifer SchmidtJennifer M. SchmidtM.Ed. is a special education teacher at Beavercreek High School in Beavercreek, Ohio. Jennifer has 20 years of teaching experience in both general and special education settings. She began working closely with students with autism while teaching in Chapel Hill, North Caroline, and was trained in the TEACCH method. At BHS, Jennifer and her now retired speech-language pathologist colleague piloted the PEERspective learning approach in the fall of 2007, and the class continues to this day. Besides, other school districts have adopted the same model with similar success. Jennifer is a passionate educator who enjoys presenting at local, state, and national conferences about PEERspective, autism, and other topics related to special education. She was recognized as Beavercreek City Schools Teacher of the Year in 2012, and in 2014 received the Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year recognition as a result of her innovative teaching model. Jennifer stays active teaching at workshops, through her role as a lead teacher on the Autism Coalition Team at Beavercreek High School, and at a local college. She is committed to helping other schools find success in teaching pragmatic language to students on the autism spectrum through PEERspective.  Be sure to check out her website for more information.  



Older Post Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published