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Home Schooling and Home Therapy During COVID-19


It’s April 4, 2020 as I write this and COVID-19 continues to spread. Schools and day-care establishments are closed. Personal interaction with persons outside your household is dangerous. All of which means that we autism grandparents who do a lot of caretaking of our autistic grandchildren have one more thing added to our plates: how to contribute to our grandchild’s continued “progress” – her education and therapy.

Of course each of our situations is different. I’ll share a bit about mine. I take care of 4-year-old Angelina while her mother (Kelly) is at work as a full-time nurse in a COVID unit of a major hospital. This means 50 or more hours each week. Prior to COVID-19, Angelina was a student making wonderful progress in an ABA program at the Faison Center, so now our concern is for her progress to continue. 


I still don’t have my act quite together regarding schedule, structure, and curriculum, but I've done three basic things in preparation. 

  1. I’ve searched the Internet for advice and have determined that an article published on the website of Autism Speaks, “How to cope with disrupted family routines during COVID-19,” provides good fundamental advice for my situation. I’m so glad the article includes this final paragraph:  “Try to be patient and realistic as you adopt a new schedule. Getting consistent with a new routine, particularly when things are quickly changing day-to-day, means things won’t be perfect. Start small, with more loose structure, if that feels less overwhelming. Involve your children in planning for their learning and the work of the family. That may help them cope better if things change over time. And, remember to schedule breaks – for everyone – throughout your day.”

  2. I’ve made a list of a few of the things that I’d like to see Angelina involved with during the coming months of COVID-required home schooling: learning to dress/undress herself, drawing letters and numbers, enunciating, reading to her, keyboarding (learning to use mouse, press keys, etc.), music, physical activity (both indoors and out), cooking, and household chores. 

  3. I’ve asked the folks at the Faison Center to send recommendations for home schooling and they responded with a wonderful 10-page document with illustrated and outlined suggestions. For example “Two-step Instructions” is one area for concentration. For example, “Put the toys in the bin and put the bin on the shelf.” This page lists several examples of such two-step instructions and how to respond when Angelina responds correctly and when she doesn’t. 

Now my job is to sort through all of this, evaluate my energies and abilities, and then construct a program and give it a try. Then modify things as I determine even better content and methods. But most of all, remember that last paragraph of the Autism Speaks article:  “Try to be patient and realistic as you adopt a new schedule. Getting consistent with a new routine, particularly when things are quickly changing day-to-day, means things won’t be perfect. Start small, with more loose structure, if that feels less overwhelming. Involve your children in planning for their learning and the work of the family. That may help them cope better if things change over time. And, remember to schedule breaks – for everyone – throughout your day.”

I would LOVE to hear YOUR thoughts about your own home-schooling/therapy methods/programs!

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