Autism Parenting in a Pandemic

We are not all in the same boat, but we are certainly all in the same storm…

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an uncertain and stressful time for all of us. Add being a parent of a neurodivergent child can add another complex layer of challenges while parenting and navigating the school system during COVID-19. I wanted to write this post to reach out to my readers to let them know they are not alone. I am a neurodivergent parent and I get it. This is really, really hard. None of us expected or could anticipate how difficult this was going to be. Please know, I am here for you.

Parenting our Neurodivergent Children during COVID-19 Truths…

  • Not only prior to the pandemic did you manage your child’s IEP or 504 and school services 24/7, now you are their homeschool teacher (crisis schooling teacher) as well.
  • Everything is on zoom. Prior to the pandemic, the battle of keeping our neurodivergent kiddos off the screen was real! Now it’s epically hard because everything is on zoom. It’s just TOO much screen time and it’s exhausting for all of us.
  • You probably find yourself going through each day without any clear “off” time. Work, school, parenting all seem to blend into one long day (decade), and it’s hard to find time to complete the stress cycle and create some healthy boundaries.

5 Tips to Make it Through Each Day…

  • Make a clear schedule or routine. Have it be a visual in a central location (family board, refrigerator)that can be used to help prompt your kids and yourself.
  • Pick your battles. Know when to let go of previous expectations to avoid a meltdown due to changes in routine.
  • Parents, please give yourself some grace. This is hard.
  • Practice and model flexible routines for your children.
  • Include your kids the best way you can in daily routines. Parents this is an amazing time with all of us being home, to help your neurodivergent children learn more adaptive living skills. Include them in meal prep, cooking, and cleaning.

Complete the Stress Cycle Tips…

Parents, I know it’s hard, but please prioritize finding time for yourself to complete the stress cycle and allow yourself some downtime for self-care. We absolutely cannot be at our best for our children when we are serving from an empty cup.

  • Create a self-care menu that can serve as a reminder to relax, unwind and ground yourself through the pandemic chaos.
  • Relax with a bubble bath, meditate with an app like Headspace or Calm for 5 minutes, put on a face mask, listen to an audiobook or favorite podcast.
  • Get some exercise and get outside every day to get your vitamin D (e.g., go for a walk, do some yoga).
  • Take a short nap during the day (gasp!) or go to sleep earlier. Prioritize your rest, your body needs it now more than ever.
  • Get creative by yourself or with your kids!
  • Invest in a weighted blanket or borrow your kiddos if they will share (if you haven’t bought one for yourself these are all sorts of awesome).
  • Borrow your kiddos thinking putty (stress balls) and use them yourself. I love my Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty and sometimes I share them with my kids (LOL).
  • Check-in on a friend or family member to keep connected with the ones we love. Connecting with others helps us feel safe. We all need to feel a bit more love, connection, and safety these days.

Finally, one of my favorite recent reads is the book Burnout. It is a quick read and incredibly validating during these uncertain times.

As always, if you made it this far, thanks for spending your valuable time reading this. For more information on our autism therapy approach, please visit our autism therapy specialty page. If you would like to schedule a FREE 30-minute phone consultation to hear more about how I can be of support while parenting your neurodivergent kiddos during a pandemic, please schedule a call.

Be well,

Dr. G

Be well,

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