How can I keep up with her regular therapy during the coronavirus pandemic?
Here are a few things you can do.
1) EMBRACE PLAN B AND PARE DOWN
First of all, give yourself recognition for how hard it is to be a parent of a child with any mental health or developmental condition in the time of COVID-19. It helps to recognize that for the next several weeks many of us will turn into occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, speech therapists, special ed teachers and on and on. Despite probably not having 5 degrees in child development, you are the expert of your child. Rely on this knowledge to decide what the essential things he or she needs to be practicing or learning, and try to minimize the rest.
2) KEEP ROUTINES
One of the most important things to keep in mind in the face of longer-term challenges like this is to stay in your routine as much as possible. Keep schedules, medications, mealtimes, therapies, and school work as part of your day (realistically given your own mountain of work). Continue to check with your health care provider regarding medications. Consider making a visual schedule and include the day and date if possible. This schedule can be in pictures or words; whatever is best for your child. Not only does keeping routines reassure your child but it also can help to keep other aspects of life, such as sleep, in check. Taking a medication holiday, having a later waketime, or taking an extra snooze may have consequences for nighttime sleep and daytime behavior.
3) REASSURANCE BUT NOT TOO MUCH
It is likely that children are confused and worried that the adults in their lives are confused and worried. Be understanding and open to listening while trying not to offer excessive reassurance. Answering too many of the same kinds of questions often leads to more anxiety. When the same questions are asked and asked, you might gently say something like, “what did I say last time you asked me that?” Establishing a time during the day (not close to bedtime) to talk or write about worries can also be helpful.
4) FIND YOUR PEOPLE
Talk to the professionals in your child’s life as well as to other parents to find out what “hacks” they might be using at home. Maybe your child isn’t getting direct occupational therapy (OT), or is getting it through telehealth, but your therapist should be able to provide you with activities that you can do at home. Having a virtual network of parents in the same boat is invaluable.
This post was written in the Spring of 2020. Please follow your local guidelines and advice from family health care providers for appropriate, current coronavirus safety measures.