Social distancing presents new challenges for children with special needs

Adjusting to the new normal associated with the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for anyone. But experts say that it presents a new set of challenges for children with special needs.

News 12 Staff

Apr 7, 2020, 2:22 AM

Updated 1,474 days ago

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Adjusting to the new normal associated with the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for anyone. But experts say that it presents a new set of challenges for children with special needs.
“It has certainly been a struggle to try and cope with the change in routine,” says Liz Rice Attanasio.
Rice Attanasio’s 11-year-old son Louis has autism. She says that the past few weeks have been challenging.
“They are used to routine and they flourish in routine,” she says. “And just no school, no services – suddenly everything that was part of their day-to-day just stopping.”
Neurologist Dr. Robert Melillo says that the lack of structure can lead to stress and anxiety, causing some children on the autism spectrum to act out.
“They may start biting themselves, they may start hitting themselves. They may start banging their own heads,” he says.
Melillo suggests creating a schedule each day and liming television and video games. He also says to be careful what information about the virus is shared with the children.
“Keep routine. Try to keep things positive. Keep your kids safe, don’t loosen the reigns now. Add more structure, which is exactly what makes kids feel safer,” he says.


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