Some parts of the world are slowly opening and restrictions are being lifted – what a relief! There are certain precautions that are still needed – such as wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands before entering a shop or area and washing your hands when possible.
We also need to still keep our distance from people and try not to touch our face. This doesn’t sound too difficult, if you think of the alternative – staying home, not being allowed to see friends or extended family, yet it is still different than the norm – what we are all used to.
So, how do we explain this to our kids diagnosed with ASD?
We love being prepared and trying our best to support parents and caregivers as much as we possibly can. We asked the “face of AIMS Global” to create a vlog that provides practical tips to parents wanting to go on outings with their kids. Please follow this link and have a look at all the practical tips that we provide to parents. The video of preparing a child for an outing, whilst wearing a mask will be up soon (hit “subscribe” not to miss any new free videos being uploaded on a weekly basis): Pretty’s DIY free video series
Let’s think of practical ideas to prepare our kids for these “new normal” outings. According to the AIMS philosophy we always want to include our kids’ interests whenever we introduce a new concept or strategy to their daily life. We released an earlier blog that provided some tips on how you can explain Covid-19 to your children – here is the link for that one: Explaining Covid-19 to your child (part 1). I will focus on the more practical side of actually going on an outing for this blog.
Keeping in mind your child’s interests – let’s create a few practical strategies that are based on these, which in turn will make more sense for him or her to relate to. Let’s say your child absolutely loves “angry bird” characters, we can use this interest to help ease him or her in the process of all these new regulations (quite appropriate, right?). For example, we can create a social story, bringing in the “angry birds” theme and explain that when some angry birds travel from North to South, chasing summer, they have to wear masks to go through all the different seasons, germs, different countries and various “rules” of these countries.
Practice makes perfect and this is also an excellent opportunity to create a little shop in your garden to practice all the new rules in a contrived situation, which can also be a lot of fun! You can ask your child to go buy a few ingredients for a cake you are planning to bake with him or her in the “pretend garden grocery”. Remember to go through the rules in a visual way and provide a reason why these rules are in place. “Just like angry birds going through different countries, with various rules and germs, we have to go to different places with different rules.”
Rule 1: protect yourself with your mask
Rule 2: wash your hands before you go
Rule 3: sanitize before you enter a shop
Rule 4: keep your distance from others
Rule 5: let’s have fun following the rules!
Another important point is that the mask your child is required to wear might be very uncomfortable from a sensory point of view. Ask your child if it’s okay for them to breathe in the mask and try out different masks – there are many on the market now, all of a sudden! You can also order (in some countries) masks with their favorite characters on (angry birds!!) or even create an art project and make your own masks with your child – exactly the way they like it!
Once you have done a few practice runs to a pretend shop in the garden (for example) and a couple of trips around the block with a scooter perhaps, you are ready for the “real deal”. Each child is different and we always want to ensure we introduce topics or concepts according to their developmental level, age and yes, you guessed it – their interests!
It’s important to provide genuine social praise throughout the outing and always remember your visual strategies – schedules, choice boards and timers! We have various blogs and vlogs that explain these strategies – have a look at our previous blogs here:
The most important element to never forget is to see it as an adventure and have fun! We totally understand that we are all feeling anxious and unsure, but our kids need us to help them get through these new regulations together. We can do this!
Let me know how your outing goes and send photos! firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!