Autism Speaks offers help, tips to parents during COVID-19 crisis


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Helping children adjust during self quarantine can be challenging for parents. That stress is heightened for families with kids who have autism. The non-profit organization, Autism Speaks, is helping families by establishing new programs and offering tips during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barbara Pietro’s twin boys have autism. She has gotten help and support from family, friends and organizations like Autism Speaks.  

“The support [systems] that I have and utilized quite frankly not everyone has,” Pietro said. “We all need to check on each other. Make sure people know about the resources available to them.”

When the coronavirus made its way to the United States, Arianna Esposito with Autism Speaks said the non-profit created new programs to help parents adjust to self quarantine.  

“We encourage parents to kind of create and develop a new way to transition to the school day,” Esposito said. “When the school days are over, create some time of transition too at the end so that it signals even though I’m home, the school day is over.”

Organizers with the non-profit are providing up-to-date information and advice to teach parents how to help their child adjust to a new routine.  

“We have a video that explains how to deal with a disruptive routine, how to establish a routine, where to start, what are the resources available to parents in their existing network,” said Esposito. 

Esposito said one of the main challenges is helping a child with special needs understand what is going on and why. 

“We address what coronavirus is on an age-appropriate level,” she said. “We encourage that our teaching stories are meant to be individualized depending on reading level and your child’s age.”

Pietro said her boys are a gift, but added it’s not always easy. She knows it can get tough for parents with children who have autism but encourages them to not give up.  

“You’re doing great,” Pietro said. “It can be extremely overwhelming when you feel as though your child isn’t happy or content and that can sit in your heart and be very stressful. But your child feels loved.”

Autism Speaks also gives parents tips on how to maintain clinical services during self isolation by teaching them about telehealth and other video tools.  

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