The MLO Minute: By Allyson McAndrews, M.Ed. and Kimberly Caputo, Esq.
People all around the globe are currently impacted by the Coronavirus Outbreak. As individuals and families try and find a new normal to their daily routine, it can certainly be difficult considering the precautions and procedures that are being placed upon our daily activities, particularly, the schools and day programs that are closed. This homebound time can have a major impact on families with children with special needs. Students with disabilities often rely on their daily schedule to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally and such offsets can have a major impact on a child. The following tips can be implemented throughout the day to help students stay on track.
- Write a schedule out for the following days’ tasks. Being able to check-off these tasks emphasizes accomplishments – no matter how big or small. Advanced planning and discussion is particularly important for individuals with disabilities so that they can understand in advance what to expect the following day. Modeling advance planning helps demonstrate executive functioning skills for students with deficits in this area.
- Take a walk outside. Social distancing is important and can still be executed through brief walks outdoors, keeping at least a 6-foot distance from others. Remember – Vitamin D is great for your mental health!
- FaceTime or call friends. At your discretion, select certain times you and your children can call friends and family and share your stories and suggestions for getting through this time. Make it both social and educational – brainstorm questions to ask your friends about an area of expertise!
- If you are allowing screen time, allot certain times and (relatively brief) time frames to avoid constant television watching and iPad use.
- Read. Now is the time to catch up on personal reading. Bring out some books from your shelves and encourage free reading time to your family. Audiobooks are wonderful, too!
- Do a puzzle. These types of mentally stimulating activities are good for the brain and can promote family conversation.
- Arts and crafts. Much like with puzzles, engaging in arts and crafts is great therapy for your mind! It encourages creativity and brings a sense of achievement.
- Cook. Let your kids help with breakfast, lunch, and dinners. No matter how simple the meal, this helps bring families together and keeps them busy in a positive way.
- Designate a quiet space in the home. Increased noise and stimuli can affect a child with disabilities, therefore, having a quiet place where the individual can escape is useful during more stressful times.
It is important to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. At our firm, we realize the unique challenges our clients have, and we will continue to serve you and your families during this critical time. By Allyson McAndrews, M.Ed.