Answers to 12 Common COVID-19 Questions
In response to the questions and concerns we received through our COVID-19 poll and other private messages, we hosted a social media chat to give you answers and resources. Here’s the transcript answering 12 common COVID19 questions.
*This thread will continue to be updated or amended as the situation unfolds. Feel free to reach out with new questions, concerns, comments or suggestions when anything comes up; we’ll try our best to answer/address them. If we can’t fully answer your questions today, please allow us to get back to you later with more detailed responses, as we navigate this ever-changing situation.
What happens to our Autism Funding if we can’t use it all up because service providers are no longer able to provide services due to COVID-19?
A: A great question and we haven’t received any official updates from the Autism Funding Unit at this time. Autism BC has been told that families should contact the Autism Funding Unit directly with their questions. Hopefully, an official response will come out shortly. In the meantime, you can reach AFU here.
ACT also put out this letter recently, and I think it is compelling and hopefully will receive a response soon. It discusses not just autism funding but individuals receiving PWD (Persons with Disabilities) funding (for adults). Read the letter here.
My daughter already struggles with social skills. We had her in a social skills group, but of course, that has been suspended with COVID. I suggested online social groups, and she was completely against it. How do I work on her social skills when her only social interaction is available with her family and online during this time?
A: This is a tough one for sure. I think depending on where your daughter is emotionally with everything going on, perhaps try not to try too hard to engage her socially online. However, that being said, no one knows how long this is going to go on. Does she have any friends that she may be comfortable face timing with (if she has a phone or access to face time)? Even just reaching out to one person via phone or online could be beneficial. Do any other parents have any good responses to this question? For myself, I’ve just started using the House Party app (via app store), and you can live chat/video with several people and play online games. Again, maybe that is too overwhelming, and only one person at a time is what works best for her.
Some other resources that may be of interest to you:
Also, check out our new presentation on Girls Have Autism too by Gabrielle Stigant. She talks about COVID Support for girls in the video. Watch it here.
What online sensory tools/activities can you suggest?
A: Great question and I think most of us right now are pretty dysregulated with everything going on in the world. Here are some sensory activities that may be helpful for yourself and your child:
Do we know yet if CEA or comparable services will be provided if we are expected to homeschool? I have multiple diverse kids and trying to homeschool everyone at once, each needing one to one assistance, seems like a difficult scenario.
A: These are great questions. Everyone who’s following feel free to help out if you know any of the answers. If not, I’ll work to find the answers for you over the week. And the answer is no; we don’t know anything at this point.
What are everyone’s best strategies for helping diverse kids understand hygiene? I.e. it’s not okay to eat gum off a parking lot or lick a stranger’s hand? I’ve currently been getting my kids to stand on opposite ends of the kitchen table and telling them that’s how far they have to be from other humans. We do this every day before our walk…but then they see someone with a puppy and forget everything. Tips?
A: Ugh, I feel your pain, I have a child that doesn’t know social boundaries or safety etiquette either. I like this plain language social story, but I haven’t seen any social stories yet discussing the new social distancing of staying 2 metres away from others.
Suggestions after the fact: What if you had your child hold two preferred items in their hand, so they were less likely to touch things if you were to go out? Another suggestion is showing the llama distancing meme (on this chat as well).
Here’s a resource for handwashing: Visual Steps to Handwashing
What about adults with ASD and physical touch? I was told my RMT could not see me today… that’s the only time others touch me purposely in a month.
A: Thank you and excellent question. I’m wondering if some of the sensory activities that have been listed for children would also apply to adults to help relieve stress and provide sensory regulation. I know that the Self Reg 30 Day Challenge is not child-specific, and I was looking at it for myself. I will also reach out to the RMT. I know to see if there are any suggestions. If any RMTs or adult autistics are reading this, and you have suggestions, please provide your input!
Lisa’s Note: I’ve sent an email out to my contact list to see if there are any other suggestions.
I am wondering how everyone is dealing with this in this age of blended and divorced families. I wanted to see what other families are doing that have kids that go between two homes that share custody. Are kids still going back and forth on regular schedules? Or are plans being amended? What happens if someone gets sick at one household? Then does the child stay at that household to not infect the second household?
A: I found this article on CBC a few days ago:
So far, the responses I’ve been getting are routines/schedules will stay the same unless a parent/caregiver or child is ill or has to quarantine for whatever reason.
Here is what one other parent said: YES!! I have so been thinking of this! I called my family lawyer to ask his advice on this. He said as long as both parents are not in quarantine, continuing parenting time is okay. I feel in general, this is best.
What can I do to advocate at this time for my child/loved one?
A: Family Support Institute BC, Inclusion BC and BCED Access Society Public Page – Action for Access to Education and ACT- Autism Community Training are all advocating hard at this time. FSI drafted this letter to the government and feel free to edit and send your version: https://familysupportbc.com/covid/.
ACT wrote these Recommendations for MCFD and MSD to support individuals with disabilities and their families during the COVID-19, and BCED Access wrote this statement regarding Urgent Action on COVID-19 Needed For BC Children, Youth and Adults With Disabilities and their Families. Contact these organizations and have your voices heard.
How are we going to attempt to home school/educate our children if public/private schools remain out for an extended period of time?
A: Those families that have already been homeschooling, hats off to you and you may have some great resources to share as well. Please add any! Here are some that I’ve collected from various sources over the last week or so. Also, a great post from BC ED Access advocating for kids with diversabilities. This one is a MUST-READ: Urgent Action on COVID-19 Needed For BC Children, Youth and Adults With Disabilities and their Families
Let’s talk about mental health because if your mental health hasn’t been affected by COVID-19, I want to hear how you are coping. I was on a Family Support Institute BC chat the other day, and some wonderful resources were shared. Here are some adult resources. I’ll list resources for children in a separate thread.
Mental Health for Adults:
Here are some social story resources that may be of value (if you haven’t already been using them with your child/teen). Some are better than others, but I’ve included them all, so you have options.
COVID-19 Resources for Families by National Autism Association: Lots of great resources and a great social story that is copyrighted so highlighting it in this link
Plain Language Information on Coronavirus (great for adults with diversabilities)
Q12—FUNDING AND HOMESCHOOLING:
How can I write a letter to Coquitlam MLA asking help for special needs education at home? Is there any way that school funding will be diverted to parents to homeschooling? If anyone can help, I appreciate it. It is a serious concern for us whose kids struggling.
A: I appreciate your concerns as a lot of families with kids with diversabilities are feeling the same as you (including myself). BCED Access recently released this news release that may be of interest to you —BCED Access News Release
Regarding writing a letter to your MLA, I think it may be prudent to wait a little bit and take guidance from what BCED Access states shortly. They also have a Facebook group which you can find on their website.
A: Signing off now. There are a few more resources that I didn’t get a chance to add and will do so in the transcript; please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are trying our best to keep families updated about policy and changes as we learn about them. Thank you, everyone, for engaging. If you have any other questions, please email me at email@example.com. Stay healthy, and I’ll leave you with this cute social distancing meme. We may not be able to be close to each other (all Autism BC staff is working virtually), but we can stay socially connected and will continue to help you do so! Thank you to all the front-line workers (medical staff, social workers, grocery and warehouse employees, daycare providers and others I’ve forgotten to mention) we do appreciate all your service.
Mental Health for Children
How to support children’s mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
Things to Entertain Children
Canucks Autism Network is doing some online activities for kids; they had a yoga class the other day! Check out their Website. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Things to Entertain Adults (and maybe Teens)
How to Talk to Kids and How to Help Kids
Special Needs Parenting in the Age of a Pandemic