Strategies to support your neurodiverse child during lockdown

AKSWB have provided some strategies that may assist parents and carers to support their neurodiverse child during lockdown.

• It is important to help your child understand why their daily routine has changed and explain it in a way they can access it– think about how they understand things; it could be simple explanations, visuals including pictures and symbols. You may find this ebook helpful:

• A lack of structure / routine may cause some children to feel anxious so have a schedule (which you plan with your child whenever possible), outlining household activities, meal times, break times (including free play), activity outside the house and screen time for each day

• A visual timetable can be useful for explaining what your child is doing now, and what they will be doing next

• Give countdowns when you are about to transition to another activity either visually or verbally e.g. a timer may help them understand the start, the end and the transition between activities, perhaps display a stopwatch on an ipad or say ‘in 5 minutes we are going to be making lunch’

• Where possible, offer a choice and use the “first...then” approach so the child feels some control over their day

• Maintain connections that are important to your child; write letters/ emails, make a card or a phone call. Use pictures of important people in their lives (teachers, friends, family) so you can continue to have conversations about them

• Enjoy your child’s company; carry out a favourite activity that they enjoy doing with you

• For children who experience sensory overload, ensure that there is minimal distraction and build in some quiet time in the day as too much activity can be overwhelming

• For those that need regular movement; plan breaks, activities like a hand massage or extra play time in the bath, breathing / relaxation activities or create a sensory diet with your child for them to follow – ideas can be found here:

• Give your child positive attention as they may need extra reassurance at this time or be seeking closer proximity to you; allow them to discuss their feelings openly, read stories that encourage this

• Check in with your child regularly in order to ascertain how they are feeling or whether they have any thoughts or questions they want to discuss or communicate with you

• As the parent, look after YOU, give yourself regular breaks, connect with friends and family, make time to fill your bucket with things that give you energy and make you smile

If you are a parent of a neurodiverse child and require support, please contact the inclusion team of the Social Welfare Board on [email protected] - we are here to support you in any way we can.