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How to Help Children with Autism Cope in this COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

"Mabel, can you give us some suggestions to help my autistic boy cope during this pandemic? With the lockdown in place, we can't leave our house and is driving my boy nuts. He waits by the door every day, hoping to go out. When I say no, he gets angry, hit his head, and verbal stims. Please help!" - Maria To all special needs parents, I understand it is a stressful and challenging time for you. We know children in the autism spectrum craves for routine and sameness. But with the COVID-19 lockdown, many things have to change, and your child might be having a hard time coping with it. Don't worry. I'm going to share 5 simple tips to help smoothen this journey for you.

1. Having a new stay-at-home schedule

With all the changes in daily routines, your child may feel distressed. You can make a new stay-at-home schedule to give them better predictability and security.

2. Food Menu

Lately, going out to the groceries is challenging enough. What's more challenging is to find that specific food item your child love. That's why having a weekly food timetable/menu is an excellent way to help prepare your child on the food he/she is going to eat for the week. Plan out the weekly menu based on what you have in the fridge/storage. Don't be too stressed out thinking about what new meals to cook for your family every day. It is okay to eat the same kind of food a few times a week. Cut yourself some slack!

3. Exercise!

Exercise is an excellent way to release stress! Imagine being cooped up all day inside the house! If you have a trampoline, put it out in the front or back yard. Give children some dose of fresh air and sun! If you don't have one, the bed or pillows can serve as a temporary jumping base for them. Set a daily exercise time for the kids. The objective is to help them calm down and reduce their anxieties. So let them jump or run for at least 15 to 30 minutes a day!

4. Outdoor Activities

If you have a front or back yard, now is the best time to make full use of it! Since you cannot drive your kids out to the mall or playground, the least you could do is let them play at the yard. Bring all the watercolours out and let them paint their hearts out! Water play like portable mini pools or water balloons is great outdoor activities too. And my favourite of all is picnic time! Why not have snack time out at the yard on a picnic mat. Kids are going to love it!

5. One-to-one

For children, nothing is more calming and relaxing than having alone time with parents. Take 15-30 minutes a day to have one-to-one time with your child. Just relax and enjoy each other's company. Do simple activities like listen to music or laugh at a funny video together. To reduce anxieties in children, you as a parent, first have to be calm. Because an anxious you will only create more distress for your child. Check out my previous blog post for ways to help keep you sane during this pandemic.

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