For Families

How to explain Covid-19 to your child on the autism spectrum? Part 2 (of 3)

May 7, 2020

In the previous blog I wrote about why it’s important to teach your child what these restrictions mean.  Here we delve into what we do to explain this to our kids…

So, what do we do?  

We need to explain the reason for this lockdown – I understand that each child will need to receive a different explanation, but we can try and think of ideas together here.  One of the main concepts that we added into AIMS was that our kids need to understand why we are teaching them certain skills, as much as possible.  We don’t want to “tell” them what to learn, we want them to want to learn.  There is a big difference here.  

We have asked our therapists to explain the lockdown to each of their kids in a way that makes sense to them.  For some that meant to help create a social story about it and then share this story with their parents to continue the conversation.  Others started doing research and found out (in a child-friendly way, of course) what Covid-19 is and why there are restrictions.  We have also created visual supports for some of our children on why it’s important to wash your hands and how to do this effectively (also, how many times a day and why after each activity).  We created whole lessons around the subject and this made the situation more “tangible” in a sense to our kids.  They know that if they want to find out more information, they could ask us (in whatever mode of communication works for them).  

Now, let’s try this with your child.  Firstly, it’s important to ask the following questions: 

  1. What mode of communication does your child use? 
  2. What are your child’s interests? 
  3. Is your child scared of the current situation or of germs in general?  (if the answer is “yes” to this, then we do not suggest focusing on learning more about the virus, but rather on safe ways of staying healthy).  

The important factor here is to combine the second question, your child’s interests and his or her developmental level of understanding with an explanation of why they need to: 

-wash hands 

-wear a mask

-stay inside 

-not go on outings (see friends, teachers, etc.) 

Keep it fun and interactive! In the next blog (Part 3) I am going to give you another example of one of our kids and how we explained this to him.  

Until tomorrow, keep healthy and stay positive.  See you soon, Karla