Managing lockdown during a pandemic might be one of the most difficult things you ever need to do with your autistic or ADHD child.
The key consideration when engaging children with additional needs, is to ensure their comfort and well-being, during play time. Lockdown is already a cause of anxiety for many kids with autism or ADHD.
All children have great capacity for play; many will derive pleasure and intellectual stimulation from any increased engagement from their parent. Functional education supports children’s learning in a more organic way, leaving rigid structure of classrooms and textbooks behind! It’s about teaching and learning in a spontaneous way, using the environment as the key stimulus for learning. Autistic and ADHD kids thrive in low stress environments that are less constraining than the classroom.
Imaginative play such as dress up or going camping in your living room are great fun – even for grown up children. As well as the excitement of doing something out of the ordinary, it makes home feel more secure, a place of fun and laughter, which is vital when the world outside seems scary and overwhelming.
Autistic and ADHD kids can be highly sensitive to atmosphere and mood. A whole afternoon spent listening to their favourite song or watching a much-loved DVD, will be bliss to them. Your willingness to step into their world will help them feel accepted and happy, counterbalancing any isolation they experience at school.
You can encourage your child to use difference senses, taking note of any areas of overload. Visual timetables are used in schools to explain what activities are happening and when, using simple pictures. Making your own timetables will create a reassuring ‘scaffold’ for your kids.
Anxious or shy children will welcome the chance to do activities of their own choosing, boosting their confidence and self-esteem in the process. Encouraging your child to ‘teach’ you, is neat role reversal, which provides insight into your child’s learning style. Messing about with fabrics, paints, glitter, instruments like maracas can unlock powerful calming techniques which can be used as stress relievers.
Families with special educational needs kids are used to adversity and rising above significant challenges. Managing your child during a pandemic is exhausting, but when it’s over we will see how much we have learned from our kids.
Ideas to keep your kids amused when you’re stuck inside
- Swap roles with your child – pretend they’re the parent and you’re the child – go on 🙂
- Ask you child you make a menu of their favourite dish, shop for it and make it together
- Get creative – make a big object small out of anything you can get your hands on. Shrink giant objects to fit on a small table: Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Niagara Falls, Disney World, aeroplane, elephant. Share on social media
- Research a charity in your chosen area (animal welfare, older people, climate change etc., and make a small donation
- Imitation Game: take turns pretending to be someone else in the family, the others try to guess who it is.
- Stand and gaze at the stars together, with a mug of hot chocolate (wrap up if it’s chilly).
- Ask kids to be teacher and give you lessons – encourage them to teach’ you about their favourite subject, make a timetable.
- Create a crazy garden design: include animals, birds, water, fruit, flowers, rides, BBQ, seats.
- Draw a picture for the people you have missed
- Speed noughts and crosses or hangman: Play these games timed, winner is the fastest in five games.
© Suzy Rowland