We know COVID-19 is affecting you, your institutions, and the communities you serve – we are feeling it, too. For all of us, this is an unprecedented time. For individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, all of these changes can be especially overwhelming.
Individuals with autism rely on a consistent daily routine to help reduce their anxiety, and increase their independence and engagement. When a routine changes, especially as dramatically as our lives have changed at this moment, we often see the opposite effect – increased anxiety and a reduced ability to communicate and engage. As one mother stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has over a very short period of time created a situation that is both inexplicable and unexpected, which many non-neurotypical children inherently have difficulty dealing with. Limitation in communication, both verbal and non-verbal compounds the frustration and anxiety that may be expressed through difficult behavior such as self-aggression or even withdrawal.” (Read full article here.)
We are trying to think of ways we can help these individuals, and their families, continue to feel supported throughout this time, and we need your input.
Here is what we are doing so far:
- We are sharing articles, webinars, and resources for you, your staff, or your families that are developed specifically for diverse learners, such as these plain language social narratives that explain COVID-19 in English and Spanish. We are also available to help you brainstorm new ideas for outreach to this community – email us anytime.
- We are offering our online autism training for free during closures – if you or your staff members have extra time, we'd love to have you check out our hour-long training to help you feel excited to hit the ground running with access and inclusion initiatives as soon as you can. Email us whenever you would like to get started.
- For those institutions that have our app, we've created a new in-app notification system to alert users of closures and openings (because yes, those will come too!). In the notification, we are using language from each of your websites, but let us know if you would like the notification to say anything additional.
We are looking at ways we can develop more training for you and your staff, virtual tours, adapted field trip activities, and online employment/volunteer training for individuals with ASD.
We want to know what else we can do to help you, your staff, and the families you support? What other ways do you want to connect virtually with your patrons? What have families or care workers asked for? Please feel free to reach out anytime with your thoughts, ideas, and questions.
We are in this together – and together (but 6 feet apart, at a minimum!) we will help each other through this.
All our best,
Katie, Lally, Marty, Ned, and Chris