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Stress is not your friend

Stress is not your friend! Overcome it with our few tips!

In these unfortunate times many people with disabilities have experienced an increase in anxiety and for caregivers of and person with autism spectrum disorder or any other neurodiversity the stress of current situation is really magnified. Caregivers are being asked not only to be either child’s teacher, but also being asked to be the child’s speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist. Many teachers are creating virtual sessions or classes, but not all people can make use of that modality.

Man stressing out

It is noticeable that for many people with autism spectrum disorder there is an increase in anxiety, stress, and emotion dysregulation since their daily routines have really been changed significantly, as well as their social outlets have been removed and the professional supports that they were receiving have either been eliminated completely or decreased in a significant way. However, there are also people who are in a way relieved and well, because they are not being asked to leave their home, they don’t have social demands placed on their shoulders.

There is a large range of reactions due to the current circumstances and while everybody’s routine has been disrupted, for people with autism spectrum disorders it is really important to try to create structure during this time, so one of the main things that needs to be worked on is creating a daily schedule that can help reduce anxiety in people. The detail, structure and type of schedule is going to really vary depending on the people’s cognitive ability, chronological age and language levels, so it is best to start with a very basic structured schedule. It is recommended to write schedules either on post-it notes, or using a whiteboard, since every day there are going to be some adjustments and in that way flexibility will be reinforced.

Another strategy that can be used to reduce stress for individuals with autism during this time is to organize a separate workspace. Many people with autism spectrum disorder are used to going into classrooms or day programs, that have organized environment with vary of visual supports. Consider consulting with teachers and therapist about creating a similar environment at home, because that can be really beneficial. It might be a separate table or special seat at the kitchen table, and if possible take into account sensory issues and try to minimize distractions. Caregivers can also try to organize all the materials that their child would need during the course of the day, so for a school- age child that might me getting the markers, crayons and pencils all in one spot. That will take child’s attention and focus thinking about what the assignment is.

working under stress

Sleep related stress?

Can't think straight

Sleep related issues are especially prevalent in people with autism spectrum disorder, so at this time when everybody’s schedule has been turned upside down, it is really important for people with autism to try to stick to their sleep schedule, that means going to bed at a similar time and waking up at a similar time, making sure people are taking extended naps and trying to stick to evening and morning routines as much as possible.

Another important part of mental and physical health is diet, so it is encouraged to maintain eating schedules and to continue consuming a well-balanced diet. It is also important for everybody to stay connected during this time, especially for people with autism, so we encourage caregivers to arrange at least twice a week some hind of social contact with friends and family members so this might be done over the phone, or internet online services such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook, or any other social media platform but is crucial to schedule those times. That will help families and people with autism to feel less socially isolated.

Lastly it is important to stay active, for people with autism and for families and caregivers, so we encourage families to get outside if possible to engage in some physical activity. There are tons of free websites offering free exercise classes for kids, teen and adults, and we encourage everybody to make use of that, because it is important to take care body and soul.

BONUS: Tips on how to continue working on social skills for people with autism

Active listening skill is a critical step in promoting good conversational skill for people with autism, and we have selected a few best ways that will help teaching during this time:

The Telephone Game – The first player will come up with a single word or phrase and whisper it in the ear of the second person in the line. The second player will repeat it to the next player and so on. When the last player is reached they announce the message that they heard. You can make the game harder by saying a longer phrase.

Simon Says - An adult takes the role of "Simon" and gives instructions, such as put your hands on your head, to the other players. The players will only follow the instructions when prefaced with the phrase “Simon says.” If you follow the command when not prefaced by “’Simon Says” the player is out.

Simon Does - This is a variant of Simon Says. In this game, direct your child to watch & do what you do, and ignore what you say.

Clapping Game - Pick a target word or have your child pick a target word. You will say the target word along with distractor words (words either related in theme or similar sounds). Every time you say the target word have your child clap. You can make the task more challenging by increasing the rate at which you say the words.

Candy Game - This game is played with any multi-colored food. Prior to playing write out specific prompts for each color. For example, red: tell us one thing you learned today, yellow: tell us one thing you would like to do this summer. Each person will close his/her eyes and pick one food item. After they share something based on the color they have chosen, they get to eat the food item. As the activity is mastered you can encourage family members to ask questions or make comments.

How Dc Health can help?

DC Health can help Australians with disabilities by providing service providers with the nessasary health products which will ensure all NDIS workers can get back to work safetly. Additionally a portion of our sales go Australians living with disabilities to help them get through these tough times.

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