How to keep autistic kids productive during the Covid-19 pandemic time

Activities to Help Calm Your Autistic Child

The pandemic has caused everyone to go a little crazy with its random timing and its abrupt change in schedules. Parents are home more. Siblings have no alone time with friends and pets are trying to figure out why you all are around more now than ever! You could say the pandemic came through like a storm and uprooted everything we knew to be solid in our lives. Some of the most vulnerable people during this time is our children. They have just started to figure out life. Some just getting adapt to a routine all together and others not really sure why they need a routine at all. Parents are trying to help them adjust well with what little knowledge they have in all of this chaos. Those especially hurt by this time, children with autism spectrum disorder.

These fun loving, routine dependent, predictable little people are counting on the grown-ups to have the answers. So, what do you do when you don’t have any? You’re sitting home and realizing that you don’t have the answers for anything right now and you are barely keeping up with what you’ve been given charge of lately. Let us lay out a few things you can do in your home to help.

Create a new schedule:

Using visuals, create a new routine the children can grow used to. Give them something to look forward to next. Provide them with a picture schedule, options, and allow them the opportunity to predict what their day will look like according to the new normal. Here is a list of schedule ideas.

what is a visual schedule for an autistic student
Example: Next Now Schedule

Preventing Meltdowns:

Turn the television off, gather some online resources, and ask about their feelings and thoughts. Give them your knowledge allowing them the opportunity to process on their own. Try a journaling activity. Allow some creative time while talking maybe with some coloring books. Here are a few activities you can do to calm your tantruming child.

  • Calm down bottles: this activity is good for meditation and changing a negative situation into a positive one.
  • Introduce books: provide books with relatable topics i.e. anger, sadness, frustration.
  • Sing songs: music therapy is a good outlet for releasing built up tension and anxiety. Allow some form of dance, instrumental, or music related activities for calming.
  • Give hugs: sometimes all it takes is a simple hug to give off positive vibes. Giving a hug can change the attitude of your child. Keep in mind you should ask first! Sometimes children may feel more crowded from the hug than the original point that upset him.

Sensory Activities:

Sensory activities are a great way to calm children, engage them, as well as promote fun learning! Here is a list of sensory activities to try at home with your little ones.

A. Yoga ball exploration: there are a variety of yoga ball exercises you can pull off for relaxation and stretching. They are also good for large body play, cooperative play and outdoor exploration.

B. Swing: swings can be large blankets, jersey bed sheets, or therapeutic grade from a specialty store. They are used to create a secure sense of comfort and support for the young mind. Allowing them to freely swing back and forth can calm their nerves and provide under stimulated children with the right tools to focus once again.

C. Stepping stones: great for large motor play, stepping stones help with balance. They are also good for focus, hand, foot, and eye coordination, as well as physical therapy.

D. Fidget Toys: great for keeping little hands and bodies busy during times where we need it the most. They are intriguing and adult proof as well! Grab a few options from just about any superstore these days and walk your children through calming down with these as assistance.

E. Sensory bins: there literally a ton of sensory bin ideas across the internet. They keep children engaged and they are great tools for learning new ideas and experiencing old ones.

F. Weighted blankets: weighted blankets have surfaced all over the world now and are available to just about anyone. These weighted tools help stimulate the body causing it to have a calming experience. There are a variety of options for children including a vest and a lap pad. Another great thing, it helps with bedtime too.

Special Corner: Allow your little ones to have an escape. Sometimes we all need a quiet area in the midst of chaos. Carve out a reading nook, place an indoor tent, or some other form of hideout for moments that are stressful and they may need to get away. There are tons of options out there!

Treasure Chest: Who doesn’t love a good treasure chest to rummage through? Given the opportunity to encourage some positive behavior I’m sure most of you will do so with little hesitation. Try out a cool treasure chest purchased or designed by your family to hold all of these positive reinforcers. When children are doing AWESOME at any activity you can give them the options to pull from the treasure chest. This can be stickers, sensory toys, DIY tickets that allow additional screen time for good behavior. Get creative and do what you know motivates your child(ren).

There are a ton of ways to outlets for helping your family during this time. Sometimes they forget about your kids that need more structure and more supportive hugs. Happy planning and positive vibes ONLY.

Teaching Resources:

  • The National Institute for Mental Health. A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from

How do you restrain a child who is out of control?

My autistic son is out of control

My autistic son is out of control. What do I do

“I need some advice. My autistic son, is entirely out of control, no matter what we do, we cant get him to stop knocking his own teeth out, kicking his grandmother, whom has a lot of health issues, making himself throw up, hurting himself, hurting his brother and fighting with parents. My head is spinning, we have tried community mental health with no success, I have him enrolled with Easter seals but not for another 3 days.

My autistic son is out of control

Does anyone have any experiences with taking your child to an emergency room? If so, can you tell me, what all happens? Thanks in advance for any help and support.”

You have to get to the heart of the problem. Is your son in need of more stimulation than is currently in his environment? Some kids on the spectrum crave MORE stimulation and will do hurtful things to themselves and others to get that sense of pain or pressure. The opposite is also true–Gavin may need less stimulation than what is currently in his environment. Reduce noise, reduce visual stimulation (blank walls, no decorations, no color except maybe green, which has shown to be very calming even to people who are neurotypicals), reduce smells (does Grandma wear too much perfume?), etc.

Taking him to the E.R. will result in two things–either the doctors will ask to place your son on a 72-hour observation hold and then send him back home with you, or the police and CPS will be called to undermine your parental authority because a doctor thinks you can’t handle your kid and you don’t know what you are doing. Neither of these options resolves what is actually going on with your son, and you have to figure it out by either reducing or increasing his stimulation. It’s often best to reduce stim first, because increasing stim in an already overstimmed child could result in some very dangerous situations. Only after you have attempted to create a “padded, quiet room” at home should you attempt to increase stimulation, slowly, to see if that helps instead.

How to make an autistic child respond to his name

How to make an autistic child respond to his name

My autistic child is not responding to his name. What do I do?

This strikes me as a very strange request, but only because it sounds more like somebody’s asking for dog or cat training. Your autistic child may not respond when you say or call his or her name for any number of reasons, but attempting to “train” him or her to respond is disrespectful and it ignores all of the possible reasons why your child doesn’t even blink when you call. That said, if you really want him or her to pay attention when you speak, here are some helpful tips.

  1. Get all the way down to his or her level. If he or she looked you in the eye, your eyes would have to be right in front of his/hers. Think about it—do you not look at other people when you address them? How do you get their attention? By looking right in their eyes and saying their names.
  2. Say your child’s name. Touch his or her hand when you say your child’s name, if he or she is not tactile defensive. It is a physical cue that connects with saying his/her name and will connect with his/her brain faster.
  3. Repeat this process a couple of times. Practice this process for several consecutive days. Once you get a visual recognition or a verbal one, you know he or she knows his/her name, even if he/she chooses not to respond to it the rest of the time.

Now, if you want to know why your child still does not respond to his or her name, get familiar with the reasons.

  1. He or she has a hearing problem. Get it checked out, as it could be anything from an ear infection to lost ability to hear.
  2. Your child has discovered “selective listening” and is being defiant. This is especially true of children on the spectrum who are high-functioning and can communicate when they want to.
  3. Your child is so lost in his or her own little world or so completely focused on something that he or she really doesn’t hear you when you call. Don’t fault them for it—even adults do this.

Remember, just keep trying and don’t yell or scream your child’s name. Even if your child is deaf and you don’t know it, yelling his or her name won’t make any difference. In a child with autism, you will either jumpstart a meltdown or you will cause your kid to tune you out, and neither of those is any good.

How to prepare an autistic child for a new baby”
Why does my autistic child scream?

How to prepare an autistic child for a new baby

New Baby on the Way: Your Autistic Child and Baby Preparations

This is not an easy thing to do, even with children that are not on the spectrum. Some kids are excited and great when they hear they will have a little brother or sister. Others, not so much. Children on the spectrum are the same way, whether they can verbalize it or not. Here are some helpful hints to aid your ASD child with the coming of the sibling.

How to prepare an autistic child for a new baby

If your ASD child is high-functioning and/or affectionate, tell him or her as soon as possible. Spend more time with him or her. Let your child snuggle up to your belly and talk to your belly. Sometimes if you can get your ASD child to formulate a bond with the yet unseen baby, he or she will be less likely to try and hurt the baby when you bring the baby home from the hospital.

If your child is on the other end of the spectrum, you could try to encourage him or her to touch your belly late in your pregnancy, when the baby is moving or kicking. The movement and sensations might be fascinating to him or her and then you can quietly talk about what is going on with Mommy’s tummy. If your child attempts to strike your belly or climb all over you, remove him or her and tell your child that that is not allowed now and will not be allowed when the baby comes.

Other things you can do to prepare your child with autism for a new baby is to engage him or her with the baby preparations. This would include decorating the baby’s room, making up the crib, showing your child how to wind the mobile to make music, etc. Also, give your child a pretend baby doll and his or her own baby doll crib or cradle. Show him or her how to hold a baby, rock a baby, feed a baby, change a baby, dress a baby and in all other ways practice taking care of the baby doll so it looks completely normal when you do it with the new baby. If you make it all routine, then your child on the spectrum will expect all of these behaviors in the house when the new sibling comes home.

11 things never to say to parents of a child with autism
Can autism be passed down genetically?

11 things never to say to parents of a child with autism

Eleven Things You Should Never Say to a Parent Who Has A Child with Autism

Some people say the dumbest things sometimes, and often they say the cruelest and unkind things too, thinking they are trying to be helpful and positive, but completely missing the mark. If you are a parent with a child on the spectrum, you probably have heard some of these comments below. If you are not a parent with an ASD child, do everyone a favor and not open your mouth to utter any of the following.

  1. “Well, at least he isn’t mentally retarded—some kids with autism are.” Not only is this an insensitive thing to say, but it is also an ignorant thing to say too.
  2. “Wow, I didn’t know she could do that! I didn’t think autistic kids could….(fill in the blank here)”. Really? What DID you think kids with autism could do? Give them more credit where credit is due.
  3. “What did you do wrong during your pregnancy?” This usually comes from someone who assumes it is all our fault that our kids “contracted” autism.
  4. “Did you drop him as an infant?” This one sometimes follows #3, when a much older person who knows nothing about the spectrum asks you.
  5. “You poor thing! Surely you won’t risk it and have any more like that one, will you?” Wow. Just…wow. Parents don’t need your pity, they need your support, and even though autism does seem to run in families, it doesn’t mean all of the children will be “afflicted”.
  6. “Control your brat, lady! He/she is….(destroying the store, having a tantrum and needs to be spanked, etc.)” Um, no, my child is overstimulated and needs to go somewhere nice and quiet for a really long rest period, not be screamed at by you.
  7. “What’s wrong with your kid? Why doesn’t he/she listen or look at me when I’m talking to him/her?” This is when parents with autistic kids stop and correct others by telling them there is nothing “wrong” with their children and then act as advocates for autism by explaining their children’s behavior.
  8. “This is God’s punishment for something you or your partner did.” While the sins of the father may still be visited upon the children, most of us like to think that God doesn’t make mistakes and that our children on the spectrum should be celebrated for all they are capable of, not shamed for what others assume must be the reason for their existence.
  9. “Nobody wants to play with your kid because he/she is weird.” There are too many viral stories out there of parents who refused to let their children play with an autistic child or attend an ASD child’s birthday party. That’s just sad, and more sad for those that think and utter this because they can’t see that having their children spend time with an autistic child would teach their own children more compassion and provide them with greater understanding and less fear.
  10. “What are you going to do with him/her when he/she grows up? Do they still put autistic people in a county hospital/asylum?” Overtly nosy people tend to ask this because they wonder if you are going to have a Boo Radley living with you until you die, or if you will send your adult child on the spectrum away to some place where he/she won’t hurt anyone (as if he or she would).
  11. “Autism? How do you get that?” Unless this person has been living under a rock since the sixties, you probably won’t hear this, but parents who do use it as an opportunity to share their knowledge about what autism is and isn’t.

Can I give my autistic child up for adoption?
Defeat Autism Now

Can I give my autistic child up for adoption

The Difficult Autistic Child and Delayed Adoption: Can You Do It?

My friends have an autistic child they cannot handle. She asked me, “Can I give my autistic child up for adoption?” There isn’t a parent on this earth that doesn’t think to themselves, “Is it too late to give my child up for adoption?”, especially when they have just gone through a really horrible day with their kids. Although it may be a fantasy for some, for a few parents who have children on the spectrum, it seems like the best idea ever. Unfortunately, there are some legal barriers to adoption once your child is way past the five-day-old mark. There are alternatives instead, but none of them may be what you would consider responsible or compassionate, so be careful about what you decide to do.

Can I give my autistic child up for adoption

Option number one is probably the least favored of all, because it makes you look like an unfit parent and because the county in which you live will try to get you to surrender custody of your other children as well. In this option, you contact your local Human Services Department and inform them you want to surrender all parental rights to your child with autism. They will want to know why, try to schedule a home visit, and go out of their way to help you keep your child at home. If you are absolutely adamant that you need to give him or her up, then you have to go through a lengthy court process that severs all ties you have with your autistic child. You will never be allowed to see him or her again, but you will also never have to worry about how to manage him or her or take care of him/her. It is not a pretty way to handle your situation, and it is one you would eventually and deeply regret.

Option number two allows you to retain your parental rights to your child, but your child is then placed in a group home with other children like him or her. The majority of challenges you presently face you leave with better trained staff and nurses, while affording you the ability to have your son or daughter come home to visit once in a while or you can visit him/her at the group home. It relieves a lot of the emotional and physical burdens you presently feel while placing your child in what you know is a very safe environment for him or her.

Option number three is to ask a close, trusted friend or another family member to take full guardianship of your child. This is like adoption in that this friend or family member legally agrees to take over for you and takes full parental responsibility. This is done more often when a parent is a recovering alcoholic or drug addict and knows he/she cannot take care of a child on the spectrum until long after he/she has been through detox and rehab. However, extenuating circumstances can and do allow for perfectly healthy parents to grant full legal custody of their children to another family member.

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How much melatonin can I give for my autistic child to sleep?

How much melatonin can I give my autistic child

Melatonin and the Autistic Child: What Is Safe?

If you have a child with autism and he or she can’t simply settle down and go to bed at night, you might be wondering what you can give your child to make him or her more calm and eventually go to sleep. First things first—consult with your pediatrician, especially if your child is already on some form of medication for hyperactivity, seizures or attention deficit disorder. Giving your child an OTC without consulting with your pediatrician first could seriously backfire.

How much melatonin can I give to my autistic child

Secondly, if your pediatrician cannot tweak the meds your child is on, then he or she would give you permission for the dosage of melatonin you can use. With neuro-typical children, a single dose of gummy melatonin chews consists of a single piece. For adults and children on the spectrum, it is two pieces, or 5mg. Any more than that and you could damage the body’s own hormonal regulation system, which produces its own natural melatonin. In rare cases where a child with autism cannot settle down or has trouble falling asleep because he or she is on a twelve-hour dose of Ritalin or some other stimulant, then a pediatrician might grant you permission to give your child a dose and a half of the adult dose, or 7.5mg. However, DO NOT give your child this much without first consulting your pediatrician.

Thirdly, and finally, do not expect melatonin to be the cure. Just as kids on the spectrum are all different, they will all react to melatonin differently. Simply put, some kids on melatonin get hyped up by it rather than calmed down. If, after three nights of dosing your child he or she is more hyper than before or has an even more difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep, discontinue its use. It is safe to discontinue melatonin on your own because it is an OTC and not a prescribed medication.

Autism Registry: Scary Government Tracking or Helpful Research?

Autism registry

Autism Registry: Scary Government Tracking or Helpful Research?

Some states have recently formed an autism registry. If you are not in a state that has such a registry, you may be wondering what this is, what it’s for, and if you should register should your state ever start something similar. Parents who are very protective of their children may be very wary at first—after all, a state registry that tracks who has autism, where they live, and documents information about the mothers and their children seems a little invasive and scary. However, there are some positive points to registering your children with autism and registering important information about your family.

Autism registry in NJ

Autism research is a very important and positive reason for adding your family to the registry. All of the information the researchers gather about autism, where it seems to be most highly concentrated, the age of both parents when they conceived a child that was later diagnosed with autism, etc., is kept confidential, but it helps determine if there are any common factors. The common factors can then steer researchers in a direction that has not been explored before, as they try to find a cure or a preventive measure and help reduce the frequency with which autism is discovered and diagnosed.

Another reason for registering is so that when there is a cure, a treatment or a preventive measure found, your family can be one of the first ones to hear about it. Researchers who compile the list of names and data can present their findings to you and your child to see if you would like to reverse the disorder (should it ever be possible), or if you would like to remain as you are.

Government planning for the future welfare and financial needs also relies on this collected data. Social Security Administration will have to fairly and accurately predict the number of group homes, nursing homes, special care attendants, disability benefit amounts per person, and life expectancy for healthcare for every autistic child in America. Since the current number of autistic children is growing at an unprecedented rate in human history, there is no data bank to assist the government with these tasks, at least not without the help of the willing and volunteering families and the state registries.

Currently, many states on the East and West coasts of the U.S. have autism registries. Some require that mandatory reporters who discover and diagnose children with autism register your child and your family without your permission. Other states give you the option, while letting you know that if you do volunteer your information, you may be offered more public assistance and referred to extra programs that can help you raise your special needs child.

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Summer camps for students with autism

Summer camps for students with autism

Summer Camps for Kids with Autism: Why You Should Send Your Child

Summer camps exist for both neurotypical and special needs campers across the U.S. The fact that many communities have taken notice of the fact that kids with autism need a very different sort of program speaks to the fact that these communities are doing their part to be inclusive of every child, regardless of where he or she falls on the spectrum. If you are thinking about sending your child to a summer camp for autistic kids, there are several reasons why you absolutely should.

Summer camps for students with autism

REASON #1: The camps are highly organized and very structured. Kids with autism, as you know, love structure. It helps them feel safe and less anxious or nervous knowing the exact itinerary each and every day. There is nothing that will cause your child to run willy-nilly and get injured or cause injury to someone else.

REASON #2: Socialization. Seriously, you have to get the kids out to socialize during the summer, but you do not have to let it all fall on you. There will be other kids at autism camp that will have similar interests and skill levels as your own child, and he or she will absolutely love finding somebody else to talk to about Minecraft or Shopkins, ad nauseum.

REASON #3: It’s fun. The groups are always small, do tons of arts and crafts, play outdoors, explore new things (like yoga!), and go on a couple of field trips to places kids with autism would love to go. The staff tire the kids out for you by keeping them so busy all day, and the kids are happy and content when you pick them up (usually—there’s always one in the bunch that might be having a meltdown about going home, but it won’t happen every day).

REASON #4: It’s very, very safe. There are at least two camp “counselors” to each child, unless your child is very low functioning and needs assistance sitting up, standing, etc., then there are three counselors to a child. Everyone makes sure the kids are participating or getting a needed break and all the counselors go through a rigorous screening process before they are hired. Most of them are actually college students who plan to teach special ed!

REASON #5: Because you absolutely deserve a break. Hey, don’t feel guilty in the least if you cop to this reason—all parents of special needs kids need a break, and we don’t always get one. Autism camp during the summer gives you a week long break you can feel good about because you know your child is safe, having fun, and is in very good hands.

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Extracurricular Activities and the Autistic Child

Extracurricular Activities and the Autistic Child
Obviously, we are talking about the high-functioning autistic child here, since most kids on the opposite end of the spectrum would not be able to participate in after-school activities with their peers. Although you want your child to experience all the world has for them to experience and want to support their interests completely, there is a parental learning curve here. Involving your child in a sport after school is great, but if the practices are too much or too long, your child will not have what he or she needs to maintain an even emotional keel for very long. That results in aggressive behavior, outbursts and meltdowns. Likewise, involving your child in too many after school activities will have the same effect.

So how do you choose what is right for your child? Most parents of “normal” kids figure it out by first limiting the number of activities their kids are involved in, and adding more as the child gets older or seems able to handle more activity and responsibility. However, the neuro-typical child has a filter that helps them block out excess environmental stimulation that ASD kids cannot.

So, simply put, if your son or daughter wants to experience an activity, like dance, soccer, music or art lessons, try it for short durations. The best time to enroll your child in a short-term experience is in the summer. It keeps him or her from getting bored and helps both of you figure out if the activity is a good fit . If your child wants to continue the activity once school begins again, he or she is already settled into the routine of the activity and can expect it with the same frequency as he or she did in the summer. It is best to try one activity at a time, and add only one more activity if your child requests it. If there are dramatic shifts in behavior or mood, then you know that two or more activities is too much, and you and your child will have to decide which one is most important before dropping the others.

Middle schoolers and High schoolers will have tons of opportunities and endless options for after-school activities. Although your child may be eager to try them all, you have to rein him or her in, because you already know what your child can manage and what is too much for him or her. Although your child may be heading to college and need those extracurriculars on his or her college application, most colleges are also forgiving and understanding of applicants who have ASD or other qualifying disability. What is more important is that your child finds out what he or she likes and sticks with it, rather than trying everything and sticking with nothing.

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