Times of change are hard on anybody, but especially kids and people who are special needs. Special needs individuals thrive on normalcy, so in a time where their routines have been drastically changed, providing structure is imperative and will help greatly during this time of uncertainty. 

For tips specific to people on the autism spectrum, please check out this post by Aaron Likens, Autism Ambassador for Easterseals Arkansas. 

Four Ways to Help Your Child with Special Needs through Routine Changes

Here are some ways you can help your child with special needs get through this time: 

  1. Make a daily schedule! 

This takes the anxiety of what ifs for the day away from your child. It does not need to be anything fancy. It can be a list or pictures of their daily activities on a white board whatever works for your family. When the activity is done erase it or cross it off. 

Pro tip: Let your child help you make the schedule or pick between two different activities. By giving them choices, they become active participants.  

  1. Set up a safe place or a cozy corner.

Set up a space in the house for your child to go when they become overwhelmed or anxious. Store pillows, sensory toys and calming things for them there.

  1. Talk about feelings and create social stories for your child explaining what is happening and why they are not at school. 

When talking to your child, use inclusive and non-judgemental language. For example, instead of saying "school is closed, there is nothing we can do about it" try "I know when school is closed you feel really frustrated and upset, let's talk about it."

  1. Limit screen time and give rich sensory play experiences.

Screen time is easy but can quickly lead to sensory overloads and meltdowns. Timers are your new best friend. I recommend using them for each show, chore and activity. It will help your child learn that each activity has a beginning and will end at some point. 

You’ve Got This! 

You can do this parents! As always, you can call or email your child's teacher or therapists and they may have some great activities and advice that will be more tailored to your child. 

Take a deep breath parents, YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Rebecca Clay, MS CCC-SLP, has been a licensed speech therapist for five years. She currently works at Grow Learning Centre in Benton. She lives with her mini goldendoodle named Briggs who she is training to be a therapy dog.