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Resources for Parents of Children with Special Needs During COVID-19

In Complicated Times, Embrace Simple Things Like Knock-Knock Jokes

Navigating the ebb and flow of COVID-19 along with home school and back-to-school as parents of children with special needs is challenging. Besides, there’s the relentless uncertainty that manifests as the voice that keeps you up at night: 

  • How long will we have to do school from home?
  • Will there be an outbreak at school? 
  • How do we keep our kids safe? Entertained? Learning?
  • What if I have multiple children with different needs and schedules? 
  • How do we keep ourselves sane? 

It’s a catch-22. On the one hand, the school environment is essential for many children with disabilities. They rely on their teachers trained in special needs for support and in-person learning to help them grow emotionally, develop friendships, and learn coping skills. On the other hand, there’s the fear of children contracting COVID-19. A recent study found that people—especially at younger ages—with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) may be at higher risk. 

Breathe. Brene Brown in “Daring Greatly” might inspire a moment of rest. “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.” 

As parents, we must remember that each child and scenario is different. We are all on a unique journey that takes a support system filled with compassion and reliable resources. At Constellation, our hope is to arm parents and educators with the tools they need to empower children with autism, speech, occupational, or physical therapy needs. 

Below are online resources that we hope make this time a little less unsettling, inspire you to take a breath, and remember you’re not alone.

Resources for Children with Special Needs during COVID-19

Keep Children Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic 
It’s always a good practice to check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding updated safety recommendations during the pandemic. Educating and reinforcing everyday preventive actions build a routine with children. From washing hands for 20 seconds to social distancing, teaching children these practices gives them ownership of their safety. The CDC also recommends that everyone six months of age or older get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Flu vaccinations become more critical as two illnesses convene this winter (the flu and COVID-19). The CDC also offers ways to help keep your child active, stay socially connected, cope with stress, and more.   

Back to School During COVID-19: Children with Special Needs
Educators have spent the summer coming up with pandemic plans as schools across the country have “reopened.” Because it’s impossible to keep up with all of the changes, parents should focus on reinforcing safety precautions like physical distancing, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing. Additionally, doing your best to stay positive, and being honest about change can have significant results.

A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Wear a Face Mask
Masks can cause anxiety for children. This guide explains that it starts by discussing the importance of face masks. That leads to asking children questions about what they think and guiding them to embrace the process. 

Are You Happy or Sad? How Wearing Face Masks can Impact Children’s Ability to Read Emotions  
Facial emotions exist even when hidden by a mask. The article provides a few games and strategies to help children understand how mask-wearing can feel normal. From peek-a-boo to “guess my expression,” you can reveal a lot even when concealed.  

COVID-19: Caring For Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs
Whether you chose to send your children back to school or kept them at home, the American Academy of Pediatrics has tips on dealing with clinical and therapy appointments, medications, coping and staying strong for families, and more. 

Parenting Children with Special Needs During COVID-19
The Mayo Clinic tells parents to go back to the basics, such as “keeping a consistent schedule for meals, medications, exercise, and bedtime and planning gradual transitions that suit your child’s pace.” This article also advises on how to help your child feel in control and manage stress.

Making a Family Gap Plan

In the end, we just need to be patient during this time. Brene Brown has an example that all families or—even a team at work—could implement. 

“One of the things I talked about on the podcast was how we have a family gap plan,” she told TODAY. “So, when I used to travel all the time, I would come home and I’d say (to my husband), ‘Steve, all I have is 20 percent.’ And he’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve been holding down the fort here. All I got is 20.’ So we’d say, ‘OK, we’ve got a gaping 60 percent. What are our rules when we don’t have 100 percent as a family?’”

Though she said each family should have their own rules when things don’t add up to 100 percent, here’s what her family lives by: 

  • No harsh words
  • No nice words with harsh faces
  • Say you’re sorry
  • Accept apologies with thank yous
  • More puns and knock-knock jokes

So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, just breathe and break out the knock-knock jokes. 

_________

Constellation School Base Therapy & ABA has partnered with private and public schools, school districts, and early childhood development programs for over 20 years to provide evidence-based behavior, occupational, physical therapy solutions, and management consulting services in Connecticut. Learn more.

We also offer in-home applied behavior analysis (ABA) in Connecticut as an evidence-based approach for autism treatment. Through our customized programming, we work with children to improve development and focus on expanding cognitive, language, and adaptive skills. Learn more. 

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