10 ways you can help children with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic
Children with intellectual disabilities are likely to have difficulty in coping with academic tasks, so you mustn’t push the child excessively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown some of the most unique challenges at children with disabilities, their families and caregivers. Social distancing is one of the most widely promoted methods of avoiding the transmission of COVID-19, but children with intellectual disabilities require assistance and therapy for daily tasks.
With continued lockdowns, clinical, therapeutic and other services for children with intellectual disabilities have been disrupted all over the world. We talked to Dr Geetika Kapoor, Consultant School Psychologist at EdEssential, about how parents can provide appropriate assistance to children with intellectual disabilities during the pandemic. The following are some steps you can take to ensure the continued wellbeing of all children in need of aid.
1. Accept the situation: Children with intellectual disabilities are more likely to make sense of the pandemic and associated crises from the perspective of their own physical and emotional safety. Family members need to understand and accept that expecting these children to put their family’s needs before their own is unrealistic.
2. Set a routine: Even though your regular routine with your child is compromised, maintaining a daily routine is important for your child and you as well. Use visual aids to set a new routine with your child and other members of the family, just so you’re prepared enough to respond to the child’s needs as well as any crisis.
3. Use visual aids: Prepare everybody’s routine on a plain sheet of paper with pictures and bold letters. These pictures will work as reminders for your child and other family members as well. You can also use this method to explain the pandemic, lockdown and guidelines in simple steps.
4. Get support: Your role as a parent is, of course, vital, but this does not mean that you have to do everything yourself. Enlist the help of willing volunteers from within your family so as to take better care of your child.
5. Observe: Learn to take cues from your child to understand what indoor activities they enjoy the most and which ones annoy or scare them. Set aside time to bond over all the games and activities your child enjoys.
6. Be friendly: While it’s natural for most parents to engage with the child to give instructions or guide them through activities, it’s equally important for the child to see you as a friendly presence. Engage in the child’s play and rituals to ensure this.
7. Reduce demands: Stay alert to the number of demands you place on your child. Asking them to wash their hands, study, take a bath, etc is important, but try putting these in other formats instead of just demanding them, because that can lead to resistance, conflict or passive following.
8. Select your goals: Set some teaching goals every week with the help of your specialist, so that your child can continue to learn. However, be realistic about these goals and also focus on daily life skills which are easy and can be a part of your child’s routine.
9. Don’t push excessively: Children with intellectual disabilities are likely to have difficulty in coping with academic tasks, so you mustn’t push the child excessively. This can reduce your child’s motivation and create an aversion too. Consult your specialist to create realistic academic goals.
10. Stay in touch: Maintain regular contact with your child’s specialist and other members of your regular team of professionals like occupational therapists, special education teachers, speech and language pathologists, psychologists, etc. Coordinate with them to ensure that your child is on track and doing well despite the pandemic and lockdowns.
For more information, read our article on How to assist children with intellectual disability during this lockdown.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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