Dealing with new routines for our exceptional kids while social distancing

June 9, 2020

 

As we begin this “new” Summer, we leave behind weeks that felt like years, where our special needs children struggled with the changes in routine, schedules and environment, imposed isolation, covered faces, and much stressed parents at home. None of us were prepared to face these challenges while also being expected to work diligently from a totally reinvented home structure and an impacted economy.
“What has made this whole ordeal particularly challenging was the lack of an end date and not knowing
what the new normal will be” said Tom Mooney, whose son James is on the Autism Spectrum.
The virtual world using zoom and teletherapy helped many of our children connect to familiar faces and keep some of the normalcy. Teachers and therapists were able to bring smiles and interaction as much as they possibly could given the circumstances, while parents served as ‘shadows’ to their children. But once the newness of the first weeks of virtual learning settled in and the workload of the parents doubled, meltdowns began to increase, regression was much more noticeable, and stagnation arrived, bringing fear, frustration and tears from already emotionally stricken parents.

 

 

Kelly Vedrani, parent of a special needs child stressed the inadequacy of the virtual learning for her son Miles, “he needs so much daily physical interaction in order to help him, it is very, very difficult to do that virtually. I feel like he has certainly regressed in this environment”. As we transition to summer, Dr. Laura Olivos, a local child psychologist specializing in children with autism, proposes utilizing social stories & visual schedules to convey what they can expect with the resources available. Dr. Laura says it is important to "provide a sense of predictability, safety, and validate both positive and negative aspects to these changes." If your child is having difficulty transitioning to a new routine, she recommends affirming their feelings, provide choices, integrate their passions into their summer schedule, and
be mindful of your own self-care as a parent or caregiver.

 

In the end, we are grateful to be reading this today, realizing the many blessings and learnings we had with our children during the past few months. Tamara Seitz, parent of two added the final touch: “I applaud every
parent. This was NOT easy. We all need to mention our respect for teachers and therapists. We can see at
firsthand what they deal with each day with our kids, we can all agree was not easy at all”.

 

“If your child is having difficulty transitioning to a new routine, she recommends affirming their
feelings”

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