The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted family routines around the world. For families with children who have special needs, such as children with medical conditions or developmental disabilities, these disruptions are amplified. Public uncertainty makes schedules unpredictable and maintaining previous routines a challenge.
Kids with special needs and their parents may feel anxious, just like any family.
At the same time, families with complex needs have a hidden strength: They're resilient, and they know what it takes to adapt to the unexpected.
If you're in this situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, know that you can navigate uncertain times successfully. Here are some suggestions:
Think back to strategies that have worked for you in the past. Go back to the basics. This might include:
Explain that everyone is working together to keep the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading and making people sick. This is why some schools and playgrounds may be closed. Likewise, having a playdate or going to a friend's house may not be an option. Explain that kids can be a big help, too, by following such practices as:
If your child has a treatment plan — which might include things such as a list of prescription medicines, therapy instructions, and emergency and medical contacts — make sure that it's up to date and accessible. It may help to have it in the form of an electronic document that you can easily share. In addition:
During the pandemic, everyone feels added stress. It's good to recognize that, since the circumstances likely won't resolve overnight and the COVID-19 pandemic probably isn't going away soon. But it's possible to manage stress so it doesn't get overwhelming. Consider these tips:
You and your family can successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic by relying on your strengths. This means drawing on your hard-earned resilience, using strategies that have helped in the past, planning for your child's medical care and needs, and taking time to manage your stress. You've got this.