Managing Anxiety and Sensory needs
This is an anxious time for adults and children. We've collated a range of resources to support you and your child's emotional and sensory needs at this time. The following ideas have been sourced from a number of specialists including The National Fragile X Foundation, The Australian Psychological Association and Autism Awareness Australia. Many of these strategies will be useful for everyone!
Dont forget that to look after you kids, you need to also look after yourself:
Take care of yourself first.
If you can, get up before your children to collect your thoughts and plan your day.
Be calm; let everyone know that things are going to be okay. If you’re anxious, your children will be anxious.
Be careful how much the children see on television and social media.
Know the symptoms of COVID-19.
Eat well, exercise, and get (plenty of) sleep.
There are some very good ideas for helping your children cope with COVID-19 from The National Association of School Psychologists here.
We talk A LOT about visuals because they are SO important! Visuals help our clients better understand what is going on, when, and how. They also help children feel less anxious because they can see what is going to happen, for how long etc, and this significantly reduces anxiety. In particular, people with Autism think visually, so by using visuals such as visual checklists, schedules and social stories, you are 'talking their language'.
If you have a visual timer, USE IT - often! If not, consider downloading a timer from an app store such as Time Timer.
Make a visual schedule for your day and also consider using a schedule within tasks during the day - eg. have your daily schedule on the fridge and then on the table, have a specific schedule for your morning activity such as craft - colour, cut, paste. Use a 'finished' strip where possible so your child moves visuals for completed tasks to the 'finished' section of your chart. Visual tools dont have to be fancy - they can be photos, sketches or images you source from the internet.
We can help put these together for you so please reach out if you need support.
There is an ENORMOUS supply of resources including visuals for hand washing, social stories and other resources at https://praacticalaac.org/praactical/praactical-resources-dealing-with-the-covid-19-pandemic/ Just scroll through the links in the image to find what you need.
You can get a free printable daily schedule here.
This is a great concrete way to try to teach your kids about being flexible. All you need is an icy pole stick and a pipe cleaner! Read about it here.
A sensory diet consists of activities used to attain and maintain appropriate arousal states throughout the day. A balanced sensory diet can assist with managing regulation and anxiety symptoms. Here is a link to information on a sensory diet; if possible, it is really important work closely on this with your child’s Occupational Therapist:
Coping with Coronavirus by Autism Awareness Australia -https://www.autismawareness.com.au/news-events/aupdate/autism-and-coronavirus-covid-19-the-essentials/
Tips for coping with Anxiety and Coronavirus by the Australian Psychology Association
Managing Children's Anxiety about COVID-19 - https://childpsychologist.com.au/managing-children-anxiety-about-covid-19/