Today is filled with so much uncertainty. There is a pandemic happening all over the world. Schools are closed (since March 2020) and will remain closed for the rest of the year. There are government restrictions to remain home and only go out for essential purchases. Even when out, everyone is practicing “social distancing” and standing at least 4-6 feet apart. There are even “X” marks in tape on floors to remind us to remain far apart to reduce the spread of the virus (Covid-19). When this all first started, it was hard for my son (with autism) to understand why he couldn’t be around his teachers and friends. Even though he is homeschooled, he has individual tutors, a social group, and cross-fit classes that he was attending. He didn’t quite get it at first. He thought I was being mean and taking him away from his friends – “His friends!” That is actually a bit comforting, that he considers those he interacts with as friends – so much so that he misses them. This is great progress – from having no friends and no interest in making friends to actually missing people and calling them friends. Wow, we have come a long way!
Still, the uncertainty and the radical change in schedule has made things a bit uncomfortable for both my boys (both on the Spectrum). They both spent a little time cuddling with Mom and Dad (on separate nights). I felt that they were reaching for some sense of consistency and we were it! I’ve had some parents mention that their kids crawled into bed with them too. I get it! As adults, we are having a hard time wrapping our minds around what is happening worldwide and the dramatic changes in everyday life. One of the characteristics of ASD is “insistence on sameness.” For our children with Autism, routines help them to know what is happening around them. Actually, routines are comforting for most. It establishes expectations and provides a certain stability.
So, in this time of so much uncertainty, a great thing to do is to establish a new routine. Take pictures of their favorite things to do and make a visual schedule so that children can see what comes next. Let them move the pictures around to plan their own day. This may help to give them a sense of control. Add new things to your routine, like making cookies, doing art projects, reading books, or just simply cuddling together. Whatever it is, make it fun and as consistent as you possibly can. Doing something this simple might just help you bring comfort to an otherwise confusing situation.
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