GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Many parents are learning to adjust to their kids' online schooling at home after Governor Whitmer’s executive order to close K-12 school buildings for the rest of the year, and it’s not always easy.
On top of that it can be an even bigger challenge for parents with students in special education programs.
With April marking Autism Awareness Month, it’s important to note children with autism typically rely on a routine and unfortunately the Coronavirus Pandemic has most likely disrupted that.
If you haven’t already, Easterseals Michigan recommends reaching out to your school provider if your child is in a special education or individualized education plan so you can get the proper curriculum to work on at home.
In addition Easterseals Michigan is providing several resources for parents and their children.
Not only do they have Telehealth training but a ton of free online resources like virtual field trips, books and more.
They’re also sending free Applied Behavior Analysis resource kits to homes of Easterseals Michigan ABA families that include different activities and props customized to each kid and what they’ve been working on.
“It's really important to just try and create as much of a routine throughout the day as possible. It doesn't have to look exactly like school or exactly like your ABA provider might have. There are a lot of resources online right now for visual schedules and those help our kids a lot on the autism spectrum. It helps them to know what to expect next. What's going to happen throughout the day, when they can have some free time and some fun time to do what they want,” says Kristen Hjelmstad, Director of Autism Services with Easterseals Michigan.
Kristen Hjelmstad also says to keep in mind that communication can happen within the family as well while playing games.
Hjelmstad recommends asking open ended questions, like ‘Tell me about what makes that special?’ or ‘Tell me about your favorite thing that you did today?’.