Autism, ADHD and Learning disability advice

Autism, ADHD and Learning disability advice

Autism advice

Autistic children and young people may struggle to identify any physical symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as having difficulty talking about the emotions the situation will create. Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour which may help you to identify their emotional state, as well as physical symptoms.

There is going to be disruption for all of us during the pandemic, for example it will not be possible to follow normal routines, or visit older family members. If your child or young person becomes ill, they may struggle to manage the physical experience. You can help to manage these changes using any strategies that you know work for your family, or see sources of further advice and support at the bottom of this section.

It is important to be honest when communicating with your child or young person about the changing situation, measures they can take to stay safe, and the symptoms of the virus. Try to avoid giving definitive statements about the future – this is a rapidly developing situation and your child or young person may be more distressed if things change when they were told they would not. Keep up to date with official information about coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should continue to access support of local autism groups online or via phone. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful – you can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 for further advice.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Please find attached A Handbook for families – Information on autism and ADHD in children. Until service resumes as normal after the coronavirus response, some of the services will be operating differently to the information in the booklet. After the response has concluded, we expect it to be correct.”

The national autistic society has a page specifically dealing with coronavirus which can be found here

Face coverings on public transport

You may have seen that the Government made face coverings mandatory on public transport from 15th June, and operators are able refuse travel or issue penalty fines for those who fail to wear a face covering. The requirements are set out in the regulations, which also include exemptions.

Arriva has published guidance on its website on social distancing on its buses, including exemptions for wearing face coverings. They have also produced assistance cards and face covering exemption cards which can be downloaded here.

Photosymbols have produced cards which can be downloaded and printed off or simply used on a phone and shown to bus drivers etc for those who don’t have access to a printer. Please see this link to these resources on the KeepSafe website.

Clear information

A plain English 4-pager from NDTI on the virus, rules on going out, & supporting an autistic person

A blogpost with 20 tips, including on how to not overwhelm autistic people with information.

Videos

A YouTube video by PurpleElla on tips with how to cope during the pandemic if you are Autistic.

Social stories to help convey information

A social story about coronavirus by Carol Gray

A social story about keeping healthy and fighting germs from National Autistic Society

Mental health advice on dealing with anxiety during the pandemic and keeping mentally well (useful for us all!)

Coping with uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic from Autistica (Autism-specific)

A few techniques for managing anxiety during this time from Anxiety UK (general advice)

There is a free Calm Pack now available for families. This pack is full of activities and exercises to help families come together to feel safe and calm during this difficult time.

Learning disability advice

Children and young people with learning disabilities can feel a loss of control in times of uncertainty such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They may need more support or adapted explanations about the outbreak. See the easy-read coronavirus (COVID-19) guide to looking after your feelings and your body for ideas.

A good way to help them could be by supporting their decisions, representing choices visually through written words, pictures, symbol systems or objects if helpful, supporting them to express their emotions and letting them know they are not alone. While listening, take their feelings seriously and don’t judge their emotions. They may feel anxious about big changes, such as the possibility of having to stay at home for a long period. Where possible, it can be helpful to explain any upcoming changes to routine and circumstances before they happen and help them to plan and come up with solutions, such as finding a hobby or doing exercises to relax and cope with anxiety.

For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care advice. For further guidance on coronavirus (COVID19) for those with learning disabilities please see the Mencap website (includes easy read materials). BILD (the Learning Disability Professional Senate) have also published a collection of resources that may be useful to support families or carers of people with learning disabilities during the coronavirus restrictions.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Upbility

A library of ready-to-use resources aimed at fulfilling all the special therapy and education needs of children and adolescents. It places particular emphasis on producing easy-to-use and visually appealing materials and content to meet the expectations of specialists, educators and parents. Click here for more inofrmation (note you will need to change curreny from USD to GBP)

Learning disability helpline

We support people with a learning disability and their families to make their lives better, please use the following link to access information: Learning Disability Helpline.

At the moment a lot of people are worried about coronavirus. We have been asked lots of questions about what coronavirus and the lockdown means for people with a learning disability, like:

  • Am I allowed out?
  • How often can I exercise?
  • How do I explain social distancing to my family member with a learning disability?
  • What do the Care Act easements mean for me?  

We have also been able to help some people with their concerns about the NICE guidelines and what would happen if they needed to go to hospital. There have been so many changes recently, but we have answers to many current questions.

You can also ask us questions about things that aren’t to do with coronavirus. We may be able to help you with questions about social care, money and benefits, the Mental Capacity Act (best interests, capacity decisions), health and assessments, and treatment units.

You can call the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111, we’re here from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Or you can fill in our online form or email us at helpline@mencap.org.uk.

Aspens Live Chat For Those Effected by Autism

Aspens Live chat is a free online service delivered by our team of specialist advisers.
We welcome adults and young people with autism spectrum condition, learning difficulties and complex needs. We welcome their families. We also welcome professionals and key workers who are supporting families and individuals living with any disability. For more information about Aspens and Live Chat, please visit www.aspens.org.uk

To ensure we can offer the best advice tailored to your needs we are offering a variety of sessions:
 
Adult Sessions:

  • Tuesday 6pm to 7.30pm
  • Thursday 10am-12pm

Family Support:

  • Monday 9.30am to 11.30am
  • Wednesday 9am-11am
  • Friday 12-2pm

Young People:

  • Monday 1pm-3pm
  • Wednesday 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm
  • Thursday 1pm to 2.30pm

Aspens Fest 2020

Aspens are organising a virtual weekend of activities and workshops on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July, themed around transition tailored to parents, carers, siblings, children and young people with ASC, mental health difficulties and/or SEN.

Please the attached flyer for more details.

Kent Autistic Trust: Family Support Information Service

Please see the attached leaflet for the Kent Autistic Trust Family Support Information Service. 
This service provides information on autism related subjects, information on disability benefits, autism alert cards, support groups, training and more. 

Kent Autistic Trust are also providing support via Facebook.

For queries about support for adults and families, please contact emilymay@kentautistic.com and for queries related to children services please contact wendy@kentautistic.com

Facemasks in shops and supermarkets from 24 July
The Government has introduced a requirement for people to wear facemasks in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020. Please find the latest Government guidance, including the exemptions here
 
Ambitious about Autism’s Right from the Start parent toolkit
This practical toolkit contains a wealth of straightforward information in one place to guide parents and carers through their child’s journey in the early years. From the autism assessment process to the first day of school, this toolkit is packed with practical tips and checklists to support parents during the earliest years of their child’s life. It also provides signposts to sources of support or additional information.
Although aimed at 0-5 year old’s there are aspects that can be applicable to older ages. To view the parent toolkit, please visit the website.
 
Know Your Normal Webinars
These webinars will be building upon the Know Your Normal research and toolkit to help bolster staff who will be supporting or seeing mental health difficulties in autistic people. This webinar would also be useful for adult services that support those 18+. You can find out more about Know Your Normal on their website

If you would like to receive the full fortnightly email digest, please contact Adam.Webb@kent.gov.uk

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