Does being socially isolated make your autistic child happy?

Here we are…  all being asked to socially isolate ourselves and many are freaking out.  The thought of not going out, seeing people or being in public places is visible causing distress. 

Typically developing children are going to be bored at home and parents are worried about “how to keep the kids busy” over this time.

Does being socially isolated make your autistic child happy?  And is this going to be an easy time for autistic parents or those living with autism spectrum disorder.  I mean social communication problems and social isolation is part of the autism diagnosis process.  Surely if Autists are now being asked not go out or be social it will be easy.

Nope regrettable this is not how this works!  The month or months ahead are going to be incredibly challenging for those living with Autism and for their families.

Autistic people more often than not have special diets and many of the items they rely on daily may not be easily accessible.

In the same breath autistic people more often than not hate change – so not going for a drive,  not being able to go to school or an outing to the park is going to cause escalated levels of anxiety for most living on the spectrum.

Communication difficulties will make it difficult for our children to communicate their feelings about what is happening and this can in return lead to severe behavioural challenges.

So what can we do to help our children during this global pandemic?

  • Keep calm because our autistic children are very sensitive to body langue and the moods of others. The more Aggressive or frustrated you as the parent becomes the more your child’s behavior will regress.
  • Plan fun activities and keep your children stimulated and busy. Some inside,  some outside and use different rooms in the house to do different activities in.
  • Try to keep your child’s routines from an eating and sleeping perspective as normal as usual. Get up, get dressed and get busy …  just do so at home!
  • No needs to remain No. Don’t reward for bad behavior even if it seems like the easy way out.  What happens over the next few weeks will go a long way towards helping the child re-adjust to his/her normal routine back at school when the time comes.
  • Download social stories and visuals off the internet and talk to your child, friend or family member (that is on the spectrum) about what is happening and why life needs to be a bit different – communicate at all times
  • Work shifts in instances where this is possible. Mom do a few activities and then dad does a few or granny, a sibling or live in helper.
  • Limit screen time, jumping time or iPad time (link to “to much of a good thing)
  • Sing songs together and get active in the garden or lounge for that matter
  • Take a few minutes a day just for yourself! The calmer you are the easier life will be on everybody.

And lastly…  if you are going to panic buy then make sure it is the items your autistic child will struggle without.  Their favourite food or what they need due to their dietary restrictions. Get some Vitamin C to help boost their compromised immune systems and make sure that you have the medication or biomedical supplies on hand.

You’ve got this and Amazing K Autism School will be here to help with tips and advice along the way.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.