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Taking care of special child in pandemic time at home? A therapist perspective

4 min read

Jyothi M

Mysuru: “In panic we want to push the stick away from the spin, wrestle the plane out of it, but the trick is, as in everything, to go with the turning willingly, rather than fight it, give in, go with it and the way come out of your tailspin whole”.

 

This above passage comes from Edward Field’s poem titled “Tailspin” that perfectly illustrate our current reality.

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a broad term used to describe a group of neuro developmental disorders. These disorders are characterized by problems with communication and social interaction.
Children with Autism often demonstrate restricted and repetitive behaviors.

How is autism treated?

• Behavioral therapy
• Play therapy
• Occupational therapy
• Speech therapy

This pandemic is becoming a way of life right now. This lockdown burnout is a real health risk and parents of autistic child go through a lot of mental fatigue.

Prior to the pandemic their child’s life was organized. Dropping their child to school, taking their child to the therapy sessions, making time for other activities was their routine and all these have taken a hit. Now, the parents are taking the role of a therapist, a teacher, a friend and a caretaker too. This is exhausting.

The news of experts predicting a possible third wave has put the parents in a lot of stress. What can parents of autistic children do to protect themselves and their children? How to keep them engaged during this pandemic time?

• Get vaccinated:

Vaccination is the only way to combat this pandemic. Parents need to be responsible and vaccinate themselves to stop the possible spread to other family members including their children. Data collected by experts clearly indicate even though vaccinated people get the infection, the recovery rate is much higher in them.

• Talk to your child:

Talk to your child about the current pandemic situation. Try to make them understand about the pandemic in a simple language. Make them aware why it’s important to maintain social distancing, uses of frequent hand wash and wearing mask.

Create a routine for your child:

Children face stress and anxiety if their routine get disturbed. The key to alleviating stress and anxiety of your child is to create a routine. Fix time for their mealtime, bedtime and for physical activities. If your child can do small chores such as folding their blankets, cleaning their wardrobe or organizing their toys or books, encourage them to do it.

• Indoor exercises:

Exercises have many benefits. It reduces anxiety and stress, it elevates the mood, improves sleep and decreases hyperactivity in a child. Make your child do some form of exercises strictly indoors. It can be simple yogasana, breathing exercise or basic stretching exercises.

• Nurture their interests:

If your child has any kind of interest, nurture it by encouraging them. It can be painting, cooking, singing or learning computer languages, story telling etc.,

• Take online therapy:

Many autistic children need therapy. Due to this ongoing pandemic, parents are unable to take them out for therapy sessions. Consult your therapist and fix an online session. Many therapists these days conduct online therapy sessions. Find a suitable therapist for your child for an online session and fix an appointment.

• Online learning:

Children with autism are accustomed to structured learning environment. Due to this pandemic situation both children and parents are still struggling to get adjusted to the new online learning environment . Children with autism need individualized educational plan. They also need strong
support from their school and teaching staff. Talk to your child’s school and design a study plan based on your child’s ability to grasp and understand the concepts. Assist your child in completing the school tasks.

Find support online:

Children with autism and their parents are facing social isolation since they are unable to make their children socialize with other children due to the pandemic. Parents can create their own community online with other parents with special need children. This make the parents less isolated. Through online community they can interact with other parents, exchange their ideas about managing children and get other ideas which can be helpful for their children.

Few tips for the parents of autistic child

• Focus on your mental well being. If you are mentally strong and healthy you can take care of your children.
• Go easy on yourself. Give your best.
• Always try to be optimistic.
• If you are going through stress handling both children and household works, then seek help from a counsellor. Discuss what is stressing you and what are your fears. Your counsellor will help you to deal with your stress and fears.

(The writer is child and adolescent therapist based in Mysuru)

– Team Mysoorunews

Mysooru News

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