“I know when I have my class back they will be different children”: adjusting to coronavirus lockdown with autism

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As lives grind to a halt due to the current coronavirus pandemic, many people are finding it difficult to adjust to the sudden change in routine, including working from home and home-schooling. 

The current lockdown has caused disruption to everybody’s lives, including 700,000 autistic people and their families living in the UK, leading to high levels of stress and anxiety.

Autism Awareness Week

The National Autism Society are also adapting the way they reach people to raise awareness of the challenges autistic people face every day. 

The focus of this year’s awareness week includes focusing on providing support and information on how to cope particularly through this difficult period. 

The Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, Caroline Stevens said:

“This sudden unexpected change and disruption to everyday life is particularly hard for autistic children and adults. A cancelled appointment, an empty shelf of closure of a local café can be so much more than an inconvenience – it could trigger intense stress and lead to a meltdown or a shutdown.”

Changes in schooling routines

While many parents are happy to have their children at home during the pandemic, changing the daily routine for a child with autism, could have negative impact on their ability to learn. 

A special needs teacher at a school in Staffordshire, who didn’t want to be named because she was concerned about repercussions, says that without structure the world can become a scary and overwhelming place: 

“I know when I eventually have my class back, they will be different children, because they are used to coming in with a routine and a set structure… there are some things that you simply can’t replicate when you’re at home.” 

Before returning to normal

The amount of cases and deaths are said to rise before things can begin to return to normal. 

Caroline Stevens said:

“Give each day structure, making time for exercise, eating and fun activities. With all the news updates and information coming in, pick out the most important parts only. 

“Think about what you like from your usual sensory environment at work or school, where possible, try to recreate this at home. For instance, by eating at the same time of day, using noise cancelling headphones or finding a quiet area in your home.”  

Find out more on the National Autistic Society’s website.

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