Understanding Autism Amid Covid-19

Fear of unknown and uncertainty has surrounded all of us today. As a Special needs psychologist it is of great concern how children with autism must be adjusting to the new routine. They have strong affinity to routine, this world was already full of chaos and uncertainty for them. The current scenario of COVID-19 has restricted us all in our homes and the kids with autism, but we can comprehend the current situation however, its very difficult for them to understand this new change the world is going through.
They have set routines and schedules, they like sticking to that as it releases their stress related to this uncertainty and anxiety within themselves. This uncertainty and chaos leads them to exhibit challenging behaviours which then disturbs their family life. The Challenging behaviours may include screaming, hitting, spiting, rocking etc. In order to deal with this anxiety related to uncertainty parents should prepare their daily schedule with ample activities which can include breakfast time, play time, Tv time, snack time, music time, lunch time, exercise time, Nap time, computer games time, art time, dinner time, tv time and bed time. These cards are easily available online.
It can be a very interactive activity for the family as these days taking prints can be difficult so you can draw them on white cards then children can cut and then you can all draw and colour include your child with autism in this activity as they usually like art activities and it can be a good family time too. As we know these children face difficulty in socialization, this time can be utilized to engage them in some indoor activities that keep them busy too. Due to their difficult behaviours it will be unfair to keep them segregated and less involved as it can increase their frustration and anger.
Children with autism do have certain sensory issue, its better to be aware of them and don’t force them to wear masks or gloves if they have their tactile or texture sensitivity. If you want them to make them wash their hands properly and regularly try making a social story with their favourite character so they know the importance of hand washing and cleanliness in these challenging times.
It is easy to get angry and frustrated as a parent or a caretaker of a child with Autism but you need to look at the world keeping them in mind before punishing them for their challenging behaviours. Take this time to train their siblings or the other family member to learn about the needs of your child so you can switch roles as for one parent it will be a daunting task to manage the child all the time. Majority children on the spectrum have communication issues so it will be useful to keep their communication cards or communication book in reach all the time as most problem behaviours take place when they are not understood or lack in ways to communicate. Its time to make them part of our family system and own them rather than making them feel unwanted or a burden for the family.