Article was published in mybaba.com: https://www.mybaba.com/special-education-needs-tips/
I’ve split this piece into three parts to give you time to absorb the words and try out the suggestions without feeling rushed. If you missed part one, here is the link
Loss of routine is deeply de-stabilising for children on the autism spectrum. Any change can create huge anxiety, leading to a meltdown. You will need to be patient and understand this is a natural, chemical reaction for them, they’re not attention-seeking or naughty, they are being themselves.
What helps? Start to establish a new routine, use visual timetables, collect pebbles for each day you are isolated or away from your friends. Creating a routine helps to reduce the feeling of being on a rollercoaster of the unexpected, which makes autistic children feel anxious. Scientists claim it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. It may feel strange, but you will all adjust. Be aware, when they go back to school, which is another transition, they will need time to re-adjust back into the social interaction demands of being at school.
If your ADHD is on medication whilst at school, it’s important to take advice on how to stop them during this period, if that’s what you want. When they come off, they can experience a variety of symptoms, so be prepared for a bumpy ride until their brain chemistry stabilises. And if you want them to stay on medication, work out when you need to re-order the prescription.
Do what you say – even if you’re not a super organised person (and some of us aren’t) try to be reliable at this time. If your child knows they can count on you, this will ease their anxiety. Even simple things like saying you will run them a bubble bath, read them a story, or make their favourite dish for dinner, stick to the plan.
Anxiety is the body’s response to fear – a physical sensation which can be hugely distressing for the autistic and ADHD child. Your autistic child may need to ‘stim’ (self-stimulating behaviour, such as arm flapping) more. You need to be relaxed about this. They may require the feel of their favourite tactile toy. If you need to wash a favourite stim toy, try to do it overnight so it’s dry for the next day, as the loss of familiar things adds to their distress.
Journaling, doodling, painting or crafting are great low-stimulus ways to calm your anxious child as well as provide a creative outlet. Having a release for the mix of emotions is vital, whether it’s anxiety, excitement or panic. Use an emotion flow chart, like Zones of Regulation, to help your child explain how they are feeling emotionally, especially useful if they have speech and language issues.
Yoga and mindfulness are other great tools to help lower anxiety levels and can be done by everyone in the family.
Kids with ADHD will need a physical release, so hopefully there’s a park or open space nearby where they can let of steam, scream and run about in a socially distanced way.
Read Part three here
© Suzy Rowland
S.E.N.D. in the Clowns by #happyinschool project Founder, Suzy Rowland is out in July 2020. You can pre-order a copy here: http://www.hashtagpress.co.uk/shop