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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Blog

Strategies to support individuals with autism during social distancing

Friday, May 15, 2020
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By:  DBP team

The spread of COVID-19 has brought immense stress and uncertainty to our communities. School closures and drastic changes have disrupted our daily routines and even though it has been a few weeks since these safety measures have been put in place, there is still a huge adjustment that needs to be made. 

Children with autism need extra support during these times to help adjust and process the changes and information they are being exposed to. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has created a booklet with a number of resources to help your family member through this time and also provides numerous activities to maintain routines, relieve stress, and building coping skills to help them. 

The seven support strategies they list out are designed to meet the individuals’ needs:

  1. Support understanding
  2. Offer opportunities for expression
  3. Prioritize coping and calming skills
  4. Maintain routines
  5. Build new routines
  6. Foster connections (from a distance)
  7. Be aware of changing behaviors

Maintaining a routine is very important for both the caregivers and the child. Our favorite routine in this booklet is “Unloading the Dishwasher.” It allows the child to interact with the parent and also creates a new skill where they can assist the parent with this task in the future. They also created a template for making a snack. Both activities have templates for creating a task analysis and steps to make sure the activities are as effective as possible. 

For the full booklet please visit UNC’s website: https://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/sites/afirm.fpg.unc.edu/files/covid-resources/Supporting%20Individuals%20with%20Autism%20through%20Uncertian%20Times%20Full%20Packet.pdf

We would also like to thank The Autism Program at Boston Medical Center for sharing their autism resources with us to share with families!