If you haven’t already read any of my guest blogs, I’m The Unicorn Mum. I’m an older mum, I have 5 kids (3 of whom are autistic) and I am autistic myself, so it’s a topic that I have a lot of experience with.
How do you explain the pandemic to an autistic child?
Tough question, because autism isn’t one size fits all and what one autistic child understands and is placated by, another autistic child may not. So, I’ve come up with three seriously simple tips that should help. I cannot promise that they’re a solid solution, but they’re certainly worth a try.
Keep it simple.
Keep your explanation as simple as possible, without infantilising – you alone will know what your child’s levels of comprehension are.
For me and our youngest spectrumy-kid, we sat him down and explained that there is a nasty bug going around, so we are all being very careful by staying home as much as possible as we don’t want to get it. He of course had a million questions over-analysing WHY, and what the bug was exactly, so we were honest; we don’t know the ins and outs, we’re not scientists, but assured him that the experts are on the case with their clever science.
Keep it calm and rational.
Try to keep any worries and concerns away from them – contrary to the popular myth that autistic people don’t have empathy and struggle to show emotion, many autistic people are very empathetic and sensitive to emotions, especially those of their loved ones. Keep any covid-19 talk between the adults, and remain as positive as you can be around the kids. Introduce fun activities, and enjoy your time spent together.
Don’t divulge the more worrying aspects.
Your autistic child (in fact, no autistic child) really needs to know the death statistics, but I suppose that if they have internet access, they might come across it. If you’re really keen to avoid this, talk to your internet provider about how you can set restricted access, but this is honestly the trickiest tip of the three.
To what point can we censor the information our children are getting? Is it right to? It all depends on the child. So, with all of this in mind, I’d advise using your common sense and staying as positive and upbeat as possible if you know that this information will trigger an almighty meltdown in your autistic child.
It’s not an easy topic, is it? How are you handling it with your kids?
The Unicorn Mum.