Autism Spectrum Disorder
If you have a lot of experience of ASD, you will know exactly what works for your child and exactly how you will be working with them during this time of school closures. However if you are new to ASD, you may feel that you would like further information to help you to understand how it affects your child and how you can best provide home learning for them.
The following websites may be useful:
www.autismlinks.co.uk – an information website about many aspects of ASD.
www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/understanding-autism/right-from-the-start-our-new-guide - scroll down the page to the link to Right from the Start web page – this toolkit includes information for parents that are new to ASD and lots of tips for helping their child with ASD.
www.city.ac.uk/_data/assets/pdf_file/0019/504136/Anxiety-in-Autism-Guide-021219.pdf - this is an academic research paper but worth a look if only to access the links to other websites about autism.
www.autism.org.uk/sensory - this part of a large website about ASD (you may find other areas of interest too) deals with sensory issues. Of particular interest is the short film that demonstrates what sensory overload can be like.
We know that a person with ASD finds comfort from routine. Even when the routine is not particularly enjoyable, they still find it hard to adapt when it is not there anymore. School is a very particular routine that will be difficult to replicate, so the first thing to do is establish what your new routine is going to look like and don’t talk about it as though it is the same as school. Be firm about what is going to happen at certain times of the day and whatever you decide the length of activities is going to be, stick to the plan. Despite difficulties with social interaction, your child will struggle with the absence of the people that they usually see at school, so try to arrange contact via social media. Your child’s class teacher is posting regular letters and videos on the school website – read or watch these together and talk about them. In the same way, stay in contact with family and friends. Don’t despair if your child just wants to play a favourite online game or watch a favourite TV programme – turn this into learning opportunities by building in regular breaks where they read from the screen, tell you what has just happened, write a sentence about the activity, draw a picture of the characters or record a commentary about it. Many of your ASD children will be anxious about the coronavirus and they may need you to find ways of explaining it to them without frightening them. Here is a preview of one example – you can find it on
www.tes.com/teaching-resources - child friendly explanation of coronavirus by Manuela Molina.
How can I help explain the changes to my child with ASD?
Many autistic people struggle with change, especially unexpected ones. Now that we need to stay at home, clearly explain why to your child. The social story below might help you. Use clear language and say how you will be doing things in a different way. If you don’t know right now that’s OK– don’t try and be reassuring by saying things like, ‘I’m sure we’ll be able to go to school soon’ if you can’t commit to that.
Keep in touch
Many autistic people might feel even more isolated at this time. Try to schedule regular calls to family members or friends.
Some autistic people have more limited diets and may need help ensuring they have enough of specific items to get through this time; ask others to add one or two of these items to their shopping for you so that you do not need to go to the shops more than absolutely necessary.
Write a visual timetable for your child to follow each day, just as they would at school. It will really help your child to follow a daily routine. Knowing what is happening every day, where possible, helps to reduce anxiety. Use 'First... Next..' to motivate your child to follow the routine. You may consider setting up a workstation to help your child concentrate when it is time to learn.
I will add to this page regularly to share strategies with you.