April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, is a day to celebrate the strides we’ve made toward acceptance and inclusion, and recognize the diversity of people on the autism spectrum. This year, we are also in the middle of a public health crisis which has disrupted daily life for all of us. It is a challenging time for families, especially those in the autism community. With schools closed and physical distancing measures in place, families’ daily routines have changed dramatically.
There are a number of resources that are now available to support families with children on the spectrum. We’ve included a few resources below to help you find a new routine and keep kids engaged and learning.
Managing the Daily Routine
Keeping up a routine helps create stability as we all work to find a new normal. It can be helpful to make a visual schedule to add structure to this unstructured time. You can also find lots of tips for structuring the day in this guide from The Mom Kind, which includes suggestions for activities families can do together.
While part of the day will include schoolwork and home learning, it’s also important to make time for daily living skills and fun activities. Here are some things to consider including in your daily schedule:
- Consistent morning and bedtime routines
- Exercise (outdoors if possible!)
- Video calls with family and friends
Remember that everyone’s needs and circumstances are different—it may take time to build a routine that works. For additional resources and support strategies, check out Supporting Individuals with Autism Through Uncertain Times.
Learning at Home
Learning happens both inside and outside the (virtual) classroom. Schools are currently working to transition to remote learning, now that in-person instruction is suspended. But there is a lot you can do to encourage learning and support children’s growth at home.
Open School BC has gathered suggestions and resources for parents and caregivers to keep children learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to multimedia educational resources, there are also tips for finding learning opportunities in everyday life. Scholastic Learn at Home also has day-to-day projects for kids from PreK to Grade 9. Learn at Home takes kids on active learning journeys through stories, videos, activities and more.
Discovery Education’s Experience platform includes virtual learning activities and resources for K-12. Their Virtual Field Trips are a great way to visit amazing places, from NBA headquarters to the home of William Shakespeare.
While schools are closed, Audible Stories has opened up a collection of audiobooks for children and youth which you can listen to for free! You can find everything from simple stories for the littlest listeners to literary classics. The collection includes titles across six languages, and the stories can be streamed from any device.
BrainPOP is also offering free access for families affected by school closures. BrainPOP’s engaging learning games and animated videos are great for visual learners and cover all the major subjects.
You can find more resources for individuals with autism on our COVID-19 Resources page.