Supporting Families with Special Needs Through This Time
If recent times have taught us anything, it’s how adaptable we all can be. From spending all of our time with our families to becoming their teachers, we as humans can adapt. But for those families who have children with additional needs, things aren’t quite that straightforward.
These children often thrive on very rigid boundaries and routines. They have clear expectations of what happens at home and what happens when they are at school or in therapy sessions. When the recent restrictions were introduced all routines went out of the window and parents had to parent and become teacher and therapist rolled into one. This would likely have caused a lot of confusion and added an insane amount of stress to what was already a very tense time.
Without the option to rely on an established support network of therapists, therapy assistants, support workers, teachers, etc. all these roles have fallen to the parents.
It’s a real struggle that is only made trickier by the fact that a lot of the children with additional needs are in the high-risk category for this virus. The lasting impact of this time in our lives and on the emotional development is a real concern.
There are many coping mechanisms for families, and especially for those whose children need that additional support.
- Explain what’s happening and what it means for your family. Keep certain routines as best you can. As much as is possible try to support your child to keep to normal waking and sleeping hours. Plan out the day and show it with visuals. Try to maintain a routine and follow this set pattern every day – predictability is reassuring, especially at times of upheaval and change.
- Stay connected with family and friends, these connections are so important. You may feel social isolated from loved ones like grandparents or school friends. Having visual face-to-face contact will continue to be important.
- In all of it try and alleviate anxieties for your children and for yourself by being open honest with each other about how you are feeling. Provide predictability as best you can and enhance emotional and physical wellbeing and activities by being present.