Talking to kids with autism about COVID-19

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Families who have loved ones with autism know changing routines can be challenging. The change COVID-19 brought the world has become somewhat problematic for families.

“Depending on the age of the individual and how they’re impacted by their autism, we could be seeing very different things,” says Dr. Jane Carlson the Director of Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism at Utah Valley University.

Dr. Carlson says all of this change surrounding COVID-19 brings heightened anxiety to children with autism. She recommends parents talk to their kids about COVID-19. Explain what social distancing means while maintaining a healthy environment.

“I think the important thing is to keep it very simple and very concrete,” she adds.

There are some other issues.

“Parents are concerned particularly if they have a child with autism who is more significantly impacted that, that child is not able to access online learning,” she says. “Having to shift the way you are doing your schoolwork, you know something as simple as the bus not showing up every day can be really distressing for some individuals on the autism spectrum.”

Dr. Carlson recommends parents contact school districts about getting their kids virtually involved at specific times.

“That routine, that predictability of what is going to happen every day is going to help a lot of kids on the spectrum get through these difficult times,” she says.

Some education doesn’t need to be hard adding, “If you have a movie buff in the family this is a perfect time to you know, focus on that and use some of those strong preferences to help some of that learning that is going on at home at this time.”

And parents, the doctor says to make sure you are taking care of your own mental health because your children may be picking up on your anxiety.

If you would like more information on this subject visit the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism Facebook Page.

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