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Isolation can be challenging for students with autism spectrum disorders, as well as for their parents and teachers. Dr Sarah Benson, lecturer in inclusion and special education needs, and autism researcher Dr Prithvi Perepa of the University of Birmingham Dubai offer tips to help parents and teachers manage amid the coronavirus lockdown.
1. Children with autism prefer information visually, therefore using a visual schedule to explain the structure of the day could help your child to understand what is expected in the current situation. Autism Circuit has great resources for visual schedules, and determining choice time activities.
2. Some children will experience higher anxiety because of the constant discussion about coronavirus. Provide your child clear and accessible information about the virus and how they can protect themselves.
3. Many students with ASD feel more comfortable working through a computer where they can let their talents and abilities shine. Let them create a podcast, webcast or other tech-savvy production to share with their class.
4. This is a great time to let your children explore the things that interest them the most, but be creative and bring in all the core academic subjects.
5. Regular story reading time is a good way to develop language and communication skills. There are a number of online story reading videos and audio books for children to listen to. Schedule some fun into the day by practicing jokes together, which builds social skills and bonding.
6. Make sure your child has comfortable workspace free from distractions. This means low noise, and possibly limited visual stimulation as well.
7. Your school might be giving you a lot of material to work through right now, which can feel defeating before they have even started. This means you might have to give your child single sets of directions and small chunks of work.
8. Your child is going to be looking to you for guidance in this turbulent time, so make sure you are also taking care of yourself.
9. Remember you are also your child’s parent – make sure you still factor in play, silly, and loving time with your child.
10. Schedule in alone time, everyone will appreciate it. Make sure one parent is not the only one in charge of learning.