When it comes to educating their children, many families have had to cope with the COVID-19 epidemic’s modifications.
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At some point in the school year 2020, most kids will have had to move from in-person instruction to virtual learning. Many children, on the other hand, are presently or have already moved from face-to-face classes via virtual or online schooling.
These moves between online and in-person classes may be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder.
The typical features of autism include difficulty with or finding it distressing to change.
According to the American Council on Exercise, these children are more flexible and can adapt to a variety of demands. They have better balance and coordination. nIt’s possible that it has something to do with transitioning from one activity to the next or coping with bigger changes in their daily routines and schedules.
You must also consider any adjustments that have to do with their education.
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We will provide you some useful ideas and helpful tactics to assist your child as they manage this situation since effectively coping with changes related to school may be difficult for children with autism, and many kids are or have recently had to transition from virtual learning to return to face-to-face, in-person schooling.
Follow a daily regimen
It is critical for kids with autism to have a daily routine. Parents may assist their children ease into in-person learning by developing and supporting a regular routine for them to follow.
It’s also beneficial if the parent has a regular schedule, especially when the parent’s activities have an influence on their child’s experiences.
A parent, for example, may be sure to cook dinner or do other domestic chores at a time that is suitable to their child’s daily routine.
The parent may do the laundry while the child is studying on his or her own, or when the kid is at school.
Here are some of the things to include in a youngster’s daily routine:
- How much time should I allow my kid to sleep each day? (Before school starts, give your youngster enough time to wake up and get ready without being rushed or overwhelmed.)
- Breakfast time
- Brushing teeth, showering, and so on are examples of self-care activities.
- After school events, such as snack time
- Chores, cleaning the child’s bedroom, and extra-curricular activities are examples of non-school responsibilities.
- Free time/Downtime (time spent outside of the child’s scheduled activities)
- (e.g., Do you allow electronic/screens before bed) What activities the kid should or shouldn’t do before going to sleep (for example, Do you allow television/monitors in the bedroom)?
Get the Sleep You Need
It is critical to teach children good sleep habits. According to one study, “children who use media after 8 p.m. and who sleep alone are…in significant sleep debt.”
Researchers also discovered that “screen activities such as TV, internet, and cellular phones in a youngster’s room had a detrimental influence on children’s sleep/wake habits and duration of sleep (Mishra, et. al., 2017).”
Although it is up to each parent to determine how to handle their child’s use of electronic devices and screen time, some research suggests that allowing children to engage in screen activities late at night does not result in better sleep or longer sleeping habits than other children who do not use electronics before bedtime.
The quantity of sleep required to function at one’s best and promote good health and well-being in everyday life varies from person to person.
As a parent, you may make your best guess about how much sleep your child requires each night by consulting with sleep experts who provide a broad guideline for children at a certain age along with your observations of your child’s actions and well-being in relation to how much sleep they receive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following:
Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day [Per 24 hours]
- Newborns [0-3 months]: 14-17 hours
- Infants [4-12 months]: 12-16 hours including naps
- Toddlers [1-2 years]: 11-14 hours including naps
- Preschoolers [3-5 years]: 10-13 hours including naps
- School Agers [6-12 years]: 9-12 hours
- Teen [13-18 years]: 8-10 hours
- Adults [18-60 years]: 7 or more hours
- Older Adults [61 years and older]: 7-9 hours
Don’t be a slave to the clock!
It was still a school, despite the fact that it may have been more regimented or less formal than a typical in-person institution. Some children were required to maintain track of a daily routine and log into a virtual program for their regular classes at predetermined intervals during the day.
Students who find it difficult to go to college on a regular basis due to distance or other circumstances may wish to pursue online learning. They were permitted, however, to complete the tasks at their own pace since they didn’t have to attend classes with a live instructor.
Transitions to in-person learning can be stressful for any student, but they are particularly difficult when your child is returning from a virtual environment.
Many youngsters, particularly those with autism, find it stressful and hectic.
When your youngster is returning to normal, in-person education, be careful not to cram their schedule with activities.
Even though we stressed the need for a daily routine, don’t over-plan your kid’s days. They require some down time to unwind and choose what activities they want to spend their time on rather than being directed by others all day long.
Make Sure Everyone Knows What to Expect
It’s natural to have expectations for your kid. However, before you make your demands, make sure they’re stated clearly.
Also, keep your expectations in line. When parents and teachers communicate their expectations for a youngster’s conduct clearly, they are assisting the child in feeling more at ease. The child understands what he or she should do and what will happen if they fail to comply with those standards.
Children with autism may appear uncooperative or nervous, and they might even exhibit aggressive behavior or self-harm as a result of unclear expectations.
Here are a few pointers for making clear expectations regarding moving children with autism from online school to in-person special needs schooling:
- Keep your expectations realistic. Be clear about when you anticipate your child to get out of bed in the morning.
- Always remember that your child’s homework is as essential to their education as yours. Help them understand when and how you want them to do their assignments (for example, at the kitchen table right after school).
- When you’re dealing with a chronic lack of sleep, it’s critical to have open and honest discussions about expectations for how children should behave in school and how they should act when they’ve had enough or need a break.
- You may teach your child’s expectations to them by using prompts, visual cues, and following through with your actions.
Use Antecedent Approaches (Be Proactive)
Antecedent techniques are advised when using what are known as antecedent strategies to set your kid up for success.
Antecedent techniques are actions you take to influence your child’s behavior before they engage in a specific action.
You’re being proactive in assisting your child to have a positive school experience by using antecedent methods.
Antecedent techniques, such as those listed below, can assist children with autism in moving more smoothly between virtual learning and real-world schooling:
- Changing the kid’s environment
- How can the learning environment be structured to make it more likely that the youngster will concentrate and accomplish tasks? How can the setting be altered in order to produce fewer distractions for the kid?
- Creating visual aids requires careful planning, especially if you’re dealing with a busy area.
- What types of visual signals and materials may be used to assist the youngster in completing his or her daily routine while still meeting expectations? A written or image-based daily schedule, a list of regulations, and token boards are all examples.
- Choosing and offering alternatives
- What is the best place to offer a child choice in his or her schedule? Where at any time during the day or week can an adult (parent or teacher) encourage a youngster to pick what he or she will be doing? What homework should you do; What consequence might you receive for good conduct and performance?
Plan accordingly by identifying social skills and needs.
Social and communication skills are among the most significant features of autism spectrum disorder.
This will be more difficult for children with autism transitioning between virtual school and in-person education since they are likely to have less anxiety about using “appropriate” social skills when they were in virtual school than the continuous pressure to engage in or at least cope with social situations in face-to-face education.
Parents and teachers should talk with one other about a child’s social abilities in order to assist a kid on the spectrum with making the shift from online school.
Parents should bring up any concerns they have about problems that might impact the kid’s school experiences with the child’s instructor. Parents may also discuss ideas for how their child’s teacher, other school personnel, and even other kids at school can assist them in having positive social interactions.
For a youngster who has difficulty in group settings, for example, the instructor may offer the kid activities that allow him or her to be more self-reliant while also assisting the whole group.
If required, develop a behavior plan.
If a youngster is expected to have an unpleasant behavior, parents and teachers should work together to develop a behavioral strategy that will support more acceptable behaviors while decreasing the frequency of problematic behaviors.
a behavior plan should include determining the function of a child’s challenging behaviors as well as identifying comparable replacement actions.
A child’s difficult conduct may be maintained by one of the four behavioral functions, which include: escapism, acquisition, attention from someone else, and automatic reinforcement.
If a child is known to walk out of class (as shown in previous in-person learning experiences) when they don’t want to be there anymore and the suggested purpose of this behavior is escaping a certain area, a behavior plan can suggest alternative strategies for the kid to ask for time off from schoolwork.
The program may also include techniques to encourage the child’s cooperation with activities that the parent and teacher agree are essential.
Reinforcement should be a vital component in assisting a child in making the transition from online schooling to face-to-face education.
After a behavior has occurred, reinforcement is when something happens afterward that boosts the likelihood of the behavior recurring in the future.
Parents and instructors need to consider how a youngster will get reinforcements for good conduct, performance, and completion of tasks requested of them.
Because what works for one kid may not work for another, reinforcement for children with autism that promotes school success will be personalized.
Although the idea of using reinforcement to assist children with autism learn in person may seem appealing, there are a few applications for which it might be used.
- Creating a token board that allows students to gain a preferred item or activity by correctly filling out the board.
- Providing a prize to the student who finishes his homework
- Providing the student with some time on his or her own tablet for group participation or for sitting correctly at their desk for a specific length of time
Check-ins are encouraged.
It’s critical to talk to youngsters about their progress. If your kid is able to speak with you, ask them what they think would aid them in the transition from out-of-school tutoring to face-to-face education.
Also, check in with your child on a regular basis to see how they’re doing. You may inquire about their progress and whether there is anything else they think would be beneficial for making their school experience even better.
Be on the lookout for any sign of trouble if your youngster can’t talk. Check in with them and see how they’re doing once in a while.
Make Contact with Teachers/Parents
Parents and teachers should talk with one another about how to help a kid make the move from virtual to real-world learning, as we mentioned before.
They should also stay in touch with one another to discuss what is going well and any potential issues that may arise.