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With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are faced with challenges to manage children with ASD staying home 24/7.

ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental and neurological disorder that impacts children at a very young age. It poses a challenge for the kids to communicate, socialize, and behave in how you would perceive an average child would do. Children with autism require special attention as they can be very sensitive about the little things such as noise, the brightness of the light, a change in their daily routine, etc.

Now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are facing challenges in managing their kids being at home 24/7. Young children cannot grasp the situation going on and wonder why they aren’t going outdoors to play, school, or see their friends. Then there are parents with children on the autism spectrum who have more difficulty handling the situation than others. However, there are some ways they can avoid a meltdown and help the child cope, and they, themselves, can relax for a while.

Calming Toys

Most of the kids on the spectrum prefer social distancing and don’t like to be touched by someone or something they don’t know. Many of them have sensory issues, and you need to know what they are before approaching them, like trying to get to know their likes and dislikes.

Usually, some children with ASD prefer playing with Play-DOH while others aren’t fond of it. Try providing them with the toys that they may take a liking to and would calm them down. You can try browsing the Autism Parenting Magazine gift guide to get an idea as to what to get them for the upcoming holiday season.

Game Activities

There are many fun game activities that children with ASD can play if they know what they are being asked to do. Relay clear instructions and show them examples of how the game is played for them to follow suit. It’s a great way to keep them occupied for hours. However, you also need to show them that it’s okay even if they do something wrong; otherwise, they’ll keep on at it and possibly have a breakdown at not achieving and understanding.

Many Halloween game ideas are available, or if you want to take it slow, play the basic game of Tag, Hide and Seek, Hopscotch, etc. till they are comfortable enough to try others.

Maintain the Routine

Children with autism love a good routine. During the lockdown, make sure you follow a consistent specific daily routine that your child is used to because that’s his or her comfort zone. A lack of predictable, consistent daily ritual will confuse your child. We recommend that all parents, whether their child is autistic or not, follow a routine rather than throwing electronics in front of their kids’ faces and get on with their day. It is understandable; however, the effect of handing over electronic gadgets may make the kids aggressive.

Therefore, it is essential for parents with autistic children not to change their routine or, if necessary, change it as less often as possible. For instance, wake up time, breakfast time, lunch and dinner times, playtimes, keep the majority of them the same, so as not to have a meltdown, which can be quite challenging to subside.

Changing the Environment

No, don’t do that! Autistic children love everything well-organized and structured. Keep the house neat and tidy and try not to shift around furniture. Many people try to change the furniture to suit their moods with time to kill, but if you have children on the spectrum, they might not like it much at the sudden change.

Many children, autistic or not, have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which means they like things to be in their place. If one of them is disrupted, for example, they wake up to find the red toy in a yellow box, they start having a fit, which can be disastrous for both the child and parents.

In this lockdown situation, structure and routine have become essential factors in impacting a child’s life. If you haven’t started yet because of work and school, you can always start now. It’ll get easier to adapt with time, and children on the spectrum would be more comfortable to take care of.

Share information

Kids are always curious to know what goes on around them. Share news information with them, explain it to them in simpler terms, about the need for lockdown, and how important it is to maintain hygiene.

There are many visual and audio recordings available that simplify understanding the coronavirus situation and explain why self-isolation is essential.

Avoid Distractions

Autistic children with sensory issues may become distracted and probably have a meltdown if there are too many pictures around with many colors, bright lights, loud noises, etc. Keep track of the issues they are most sensitive about and avoid them at all costs. One good thing about the lockdown is that they do not have to witness parties outside or at home where their sensors could be assaulted. They can be themselves, calm, and relaxed in their comfort zone.

No one knows how long this pandemic would last. We have to do the best we can to keep children with ASD as relaxed as possible to avoid having ourselves a handful. Just follow and maintain a strict routine and involve your children in playing games or doing some artwork rather than handing electronics in their hands. However, if they stick to electronics, several educational apps and games are available that they can use instead of binge-watching cartoons.

It is a difficult task to manage an autistic child, especially in lockdown. Still, with routine and structure, it’ll be easier for them to adapt and keep them busy with different activities, so parents can breathe easy and relax.