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Coping with Autism in COVID-19 era

Have you ever wondered what it will feels like to have autism in this pandemic situation? Ama and Kojo, 15 years of age, are children living with Autism. How do you tell them to be safe in this pandemic?

Although coronavirus feels new, it is a virus which has been around since 1965. However, Covid-19 is a disease which is caused by the novel corona virus- a new strain of corona viruses.  The COVID-19 pandemic is particularly worrying because it constitutes the largest global public health crisis in a century, with daunting health and socioeconomic challenges.

As Ghana moves into a partial lockdown due to the corona virus outbreak, families of persons living with autism are struggling to figure out how to support their autistic children, in the midst of the influx of information on COVID-19. This uncertainty can quickly turn to anxiety.

Knowing where to start when explaining COVID-19 to an autistic person can be a little tricky; which is why, when both you and the autistic person are in a calm setting, it is best to get the ball rolling with a 3-part discussion.

Assess what is already known

Ground understanding with facts

Prepare them for what’s to come

Also, in communicating hygiene practices, especially for handwashing, singing the “Happy birthday” song helps. During each step of this process, validating the autist’s opinions and experiences is especially important. Any discussion surrounding corona virus should focus on what can be done to prevent it and how it is likely to change routines – in particular, changes related to going to school or work. Of course, most autistic people are averse to change, so this will inevitably cause a bit of friction but with love and correct communication, they will keep safe in this pandemic and live their optimum potential. Leaving no one behind is the goal!