I know many of us are experiencing the current situation with Covid 19. Yesterday I was at the grocery store looking for milk and a young boy with down syndrome, greeted me very enthusiastically. I smiled and greeted him with the same reaction and my heart being full of such a small but joyous interaction. For my readers who don’t know I started my career working in special education. I was a teacher assistant for three years in a behavioral classroom from students who were diagnosed as bipolar, autistic, select mutes, depression, honestly the list goes on, however I loved it and this was the area where I made the most impact. I taught for four years as a special education inclusion teacher working with students with a variety of learning disabilities and higher functioning autism. So, he was a reminder even during the chaos in the store, to still be present.
Unfortunately, a few minutes later I saw him yelling and his Dad getting extremely fluster and frustrated because he didn’t understand him. I thought about the child, who probably is accustomed to being on a daily schedule and now he’s at home, grocery shopping on a Tuesday during the middle of the day. I thought about the parent who may be lacking the support from others and especially the child’s teachers that he could typically depend on. Instantly my mind started going and I wanted to help.
The purpose of this blog is to provide not only some relief to the parents or caretakers of a child with a special need but also help bring some normality to the child.
To be honest all kids crave structure. But this is especially true for our special population. From my personal experience in the classroom, students acted out when something changed (weather, breaks approaching, sub in the class). The same happens at home, what you may experience is a meltdown in the store, obsessing over an object or pure defiance. I want to encourage parents to make a schedule. For the younger students and lower functioning kiddos, ideally a visual schedule is perfect.
This schedule should be displayed for the child to see it rather written or pictures.
Keep your same morning routine (brush hair, teeth, wash face, eat breakfast etc., try to keep close to the time they had in school).
Since we are all learning remotely make sure you build in their schedule educational time. During this time be intentional, use timers to help chunk the learning so you and the child aren’t getting overwhelmed. Have a rewards system set up as much as parents or sometimes even teachers feel a child should just do schoolwork because, they don’t lol. So have a back-up plan to motivate them.
Motivation examples: tickets, stickers, additional snacks, a color system, points. The great thing is it is your home you can decide what rewards and consequences look like. Removing privileges has always worked with a contract of how behavior will be changed the next time. Don’t forget to extend grace because this is a big adjustment for a lot of people.
Set some time for allowing the child to be creative: through music, crafts, dancing etc. incorporate technology by displaying a YouTube tutorial to walk you and your kiddo through creative time if you don’t feel confident with your own abilities.
Lunch again be intentional about what you are putting in their bodies if you can prep healthy lunches this will contribute to your child being overall healthier and less hyper or even too sluggish.
Now that students are home with you this a perfect time to develop personal skills like cleaning, washing and ironing clothes, cooking, or practicing social skills like budgeting, paying bills, interviewing etc. Of course, adjust to the needs of your child but these are things that most students will not learn in some of their classes.
Quiet time: take an hour or two for yourself, while they nap, guided meditation, read a book or doing something quietly like a puzzle. This is your moment to refresh and if you have another parent at home or help, I recommend monitoring in shifts if possible.
Academic time: repeat the steps earlier but student should be working on a different subject.
Movement: go on a walk, yoga, dance, go to a park if possible, something that allows you to get vitamin d and your body moving.
Dinner: close out the evening with conversations and set the intentions for the next day.
TV or electronics for personal use.
Affirm them and put them to bed.
Repeat and adjust schedule as needed. Remember to be kind to yourself during this season as well. I know things are completely different, but now more than ever make sure you are working out, eating the right things and asking for help if needed. I’m sure your kiddos teachers will be on standby to aid and assist the best way possible. Don’t feel guilty for taking a break and letting a family member or spouse, trusted neighbor to help.
I know this was a long post, but I pray it was helpful.
Father God, I ask that you instill patience and wisdom to the parents acrossed the world. Allow any pride, fear , and worried to be removed, and to remind them, that you are always present and you hear their prayers. Build your people up and give them the strength they need during such a hard or incovenient time. In your name we trust amen.
Your Sista On The Sofa,