Autism and the Corona virus: 20 tips

Photo by CDC

COVID-19 is a new disease caused by the Coronavirus. Because the disease is new to humans and highly contagious, governments around the world are taking steps to limit the spread of the disease. These measures affect millions of people. Also many people with autism and families with a child with autism. Everyday life, sometimes difficult enough for people with autism, is drastically turned upside down and made even more challenging.

Below are some tips to get through these difficult times if you have autism or if you are a parent of a child on the spectrum.

Give information about the crisis and push the context button, especially the positive context

Do not make the uncertainty and fear greater than necessary. The corona crisis is accompanied by a great deal of uncertainty. Nobody knows how the disease and the number of infections will evolve, nor how long the current measures will last and whether and what new measures will come. Uncertainty and unpredictability already pose a major challenge for people with autism without the Corona crisis and now all kinds of new and unknown uncertainties are being added. When can I go (back) to school? Will I also get sick? Who in my environment can infect me? Will I soon be unemployed?

It is good to be informed, but make sure that the information about the pandemic does not unnecessarily increase the uncertainty. And try to avoid too much (negative) information.

A few tips:

Protect yourself and the others

Teach children the actions necessary to avoid contamination: washing hands regularly, keeping a distance, sneezing and coughing in the elbow.

Make all instructions autism-friendly by making them concrete and visual.

Organize the ocean of ​​free time that is now emerging.

People with autism love well-organized, structured activities. Empty time and too much non-organized free time are a torment for many children, young people and adults with autism.

Schools are currently being closed in many countries. The structure of every day is lost for many children and young people with autism. Going somewhere (the zoo, the cinema, museum, restaurant …) is also no longer possible. As a result, there is a lot of time that threatens not to be filled in, at least not in a predictable and structured way. Some young people with autism don’t mind that, because then they can play for hours or engage in Netflix binge watching. But that’s not such a good idea. Not only is there the risk of addiction, there is also the risk of a further narrowing of the world, which is already becoming more limited by the lock down measures.

A few tips:

These are difficult times for all of us. Also for people with autism and their families. But we should never waste a good crisis. This is an opportunity for all of us to become more creative and inventive in supporting autistic people and their families. Let’s support each other and make the best of it.

Last personal note:

These are also difficult times for me and Autism in Context. All my presentations of the coming months have been cancelled. Such a pity that my contagious messages about ‘autistic happiness’ or ‘absolute thinking in a relative world’ cannot be shared. But I am working hard on a new website and will try to organize some webinars and online Q&A’s in the coming weeks. Stay in touch and keep on following me on Twitter (@peter_autisme) and LinkedIn.