Everyone is dealing with the impact of COVID-19, especially with the request for individuals to stay indoors and on lock down as much as possible. Some people may be finding this easier than others, but for those individuals living with Autism, the lack of control and routine can be overwhelming.
When talking with people on HOPELINEUK who are living with Autism, we hear that being able to have a routine plays a role in staying safe. During this time, when routine is changed and distraction is needed, what can we do to help ourselves stay safe? To support a young person, here are some tips on establishing a routine:
Communication – Simple and clear instructions:
— The young person might be feeling overwhelmed and become unhappy with their situation.
— Speaking calmly and positively, with one instruction at a time, allows the young person to not feel even more overwhelmed with requests.
— Trying to explain what’s going on can be tough, so consider using a storyboard style like these two by Carol Gray – Pandemics and Coronavirus / COVID19: I Can Help
Structure and planning – Expectations about behaviour
— The loss of structure may make it difficult for a young person to concentrate.
— Just like with communication, try a novel approach to structure and planning – create a timetable for the young person, with points/tokens earned each day all tasks are completed.
— The National Autistic Society has an example of what a timetable may look like – Visual supports
Hobbies – Keeping the young person focused
— We often hear people saying they have a particular hobby or interest which they may not be able to continue whilst the lock down is happening.
— During this period, is there another hobby the young person is interested in that can be done at home and turned into a project.
— Ideas include writing stories, keeping fit, drawing, taking photographs or even one of the following activities from Buzzfeed – Cool projects for kids that adults will want to try
Future planning – What comes next?
— The lock down is not going to be in place forever so, whilst a lot of activities are focused on what can be done now, plan for what can be done after.
— One idea is to create a list of activities that the young person may be looking forward to, whilst also preparing them for another change – from lock down to their old routine.
— The young person could also provide this list to family/friends, providing insight into what support they will need through this time and moving forward.