With the coronavirus pandemic intensifying, parents everywhere have to come to terms with the fact that everything has changed. Kids have no choice but to stay home from school, and parents now have to juggle working from home with daycare. It goes without saying that this dramatic shift presents a variety of challenges. The change in environment and schedule is especially demanding when you factor in that everyone is expected to quarantine and maintain social distance. When it comes to caring for a child who has special needs, it takes a different kind of energy and strength to keep up under the circumstances. Here are a few caregiving tips if you’re responsible for a special-needs child during quarantine:
I. Be Patient Explaining the Situation to Them:
Some children with special needs don’t have the faculties to grasp why their daily routine is suddenly different. It’s hard enough to even explain what a coronavirus is, let alone why everyone has to alter their behavior. This is the time to show them patience and understanding when they struggle. Be kind, and do as much as you can to help them cope with the quarantine. Give them extra time to follow instructions or make transitions. Many tasks and activities can be tricky for some disabled kids. If they’re having trouble following your instructions, assume they might be struggling, and ask if they need help.
II. Immerse Yourself in Teaching Them:
If your child requires tutoring from a specialized caregiver, there’s a chance that social distancing restrictions will prevent your tutor from making house calls. Rather than throwing in the towel, take up the challenge of tutoring yourself and develop some strategies for home schooling. Even if you might not have the same technical expertise as a licensed tutor, it’s still possible to design a curriculum which will enable you to keep your child learning progressively during the shutdown. With the right attitude, teaching them yourself can even become an enriching experience by strengthening your bond.
III. Encourage them to Be Independent:
Moments like this are the reason why it’s good to have independent children, even when they have special needs. If you don’t have the luxury of being able to babysit thanks to demands on your time, it will be helpful if you can teach your kids to make decisions on their own. Start small by giving them elementary choices to control. For example, let them choose what to wear or what to eat. Depending on the severity of their disability, they might surprise you over time and begin doing chores or errands for themselves. The more independent your kids are, the more time you have to focus on other responsibilities.
As the world marks Autism Awareness month in the midst of a global pandemic, society should remember to extend kindness and consideration to the more vulnerable members of our population. With or without the pandemic, children who have special needs require and deserve to be provided for with patience and humanity. If you are a parent caring for a child who has special needs, don’t forget to make time for yourself as you adapt to cope with the demands of the pandemic. If your immediate support system has shrunk due to social distancing, keep in touch with support groups online so that you can draw strength from others in your situation. You are not alone.