The COVID-19 pandemic has been rightly described as “the new war” as millions of families all over the world are bravely fighting against COVID-19 by accepting challenges of lockdown, social distancing, suspended work routines, and financial insecurities. These challenges are definitely amplified when it comes to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). With traits of impaired social and communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and redundancy, teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder can face magnified difficulty to understand and adapt to this new way of lifestyle.
Impact of COVID-19 on teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families?
Social distancing has created new challenges for families who care for teenagers with ASD. All around the world, teenagers with ASD receive support services and resources like behavioral therapy, special education, speech, and occupational therapies, etc. But due to the lockdown, delivering these services for normalizing the lifestyle of ASD teenagers has become difficult to manage virtually over a video call. Parents are therefore gearing themselves up for becoming all-in-one support for their children while maintaining their own work responsibilities. Thus this is a grave concern for families and parents as they have to keep an open mind and humble understanding to help their children with ASD.
Strategies to support teenagers and young adults with ASD during COVID-19
- It is important to educate teenagers with ASD about COVID-19 and social distancing in order to avoid unnecessary fear and anxiety. Media or TV exposure for COVID-19 can be misinterpreted and misleading. The rightful use of clear, direct, and authentic information besides visual aids can be beneficial for helping ASD teenagers.
- Routines are very important to teenagers with ASD and thus it is crucial to keep most routines like bedtime, mealtime, etc. similar. During this lockdown, many routines are bound to change related to work but it is only with love and support that parents can help their children adapt to these changed routines.
- Learning new skills has to be the highlight in this lockdown. This is the time for parents to indulge in fun activities with their children to help them manage challenging situations by learning a new task. The tasks may be related to learning familiar music, visual aids to try better communication, engaging in hobbies, etc.
- It is natural for parents and children to worry about one another during these times and thus parents of teenagers with ASD should make more efforts of frequent communication about likes and dislikes, emotional worries, motivating ideologies, etc. to recede worries and loneliness.
- Seeking health consultation from neurological specialists is crucial for parents living with teenagers having ASD. If any teenager or young adult is having problems in coping up with the current lockdown and social distancing or is exhibiting increased aggressive behavior leading to self-injury, it is very important to seek mental health consultation.
Many clinics are continuing to provide care through telehealth services, including talk therapy and medication management. If you are looking forward to a free tele-consultation regarding ASD, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.