How you can help special needs children through the pandemic

Michigan

(CNN) – Whether your child is heading back to school, or learning from home, the uncertainty of this fall has the power to make this pandemic even harder.

Especially for children with special needs.

It’s easier said than done, but structure during this pandemic is important for everyone, especially children with special needs.

“Being thrown out of their routines is really throwing everybody for a loop,” explains Nicole Hendrix, a psychologist with the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Marcus Autism Center.

She says from masks to social distancing, knowing what to expect when starting back to school can help.

Hendrix adds, “I know it might seem silly to practice things whenever we’re not in that context but that practice helps us get more familiar and makes it not so much of a shift in routine when we actually have to do those out in public.”

Finding a mask to match their interests, and gradually working up to wearing it longer can also help children to get used to them, says Cheryl Klaiman also of the Marcus Autism Center.

Klaiman explains, “Sometimes the fabrics can be too scratchy, sometimes they can be too soft, sometimes the mask is too big, sometimes it’s too tight, sometimes it’s folding the ears forward so it might take some mask trial and error to find something that’s going to work.”

And to parents everywhere, they say don’t forget to give yourself some grace.

“We’re not going to be able to accomplish everything that we want to accomplish,” adds Hendrix. “Kids are going to continue to make progress and continue to move forward it’s just a hard time right now for everyone.”

Something else to keep in mind: masks hide the face. With those visual cues from facial expressions, it may be harder for children to understand language and emotion.

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