In-person and distance learning considerations for parents of children with autism
COVID-19 remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and parents of children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental differences face additional concerns.
As a parent, if you’re opting for distance learning, there are a few things you can do to best set your child up for success:
- Check with your local school officials, libraries and advocacy groups for assistance in obtaining devices and internet access.
- To help learn new school routines and anticipate the next activity for the day, stick to a daily schedule and use a calendar.
- Set up a space in your home that is designated as a work area for your child.
- Use positive reinforcement – frequently and immediately after desired behaviors, deliver your child’s highly preferred items and activities to increase and maintain those behaviors
- Incorporate a homework system and routine in your child’s schedule to allow for independent work and designated study time
- In the day’s schedule, plan highly preferred activities after less preferred activities.
- When crafting a learning plan, integrate your child’s interests.
- Allow your child to connect with friends via Facetime, Zoom or other similar platforms contingent on completing schoolwork
To provide virtual support during this time, Touchstone ABA has expanded its telehealth services, adding staff and availability for families to access ABA sessions online via Facetime, Zoom and other similar platforms.
If your child is returning to school for in-person learning, they may find new behavioral expectations particularly challenging. As a parent, inquire whether your child can be placed with a friend or in a familiar classroom. You can also request your child’s desk be placed in a location that contributes to his/her participation, such as near the teacher. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the mask requirements are for your child and how your child will be assisted if necessary. If additional hand washing procedures are in place, ask whether your child will be allowed to use a particular hand sanitizer. If the school is enforcing a no toy sharing policy, inquire whether your child can have selected toys with which only he or she can play. Among these questions, consider other factors like transitions between different areas of the school, social distancing procedures, outside instruction, toileting procedures and movement breaks.*
Most importantly, find out what prompts and reinforcers will be used to teach and maintain behavioral expectations. Adapting and adhering to new health and safety procedures in schools may be challenging for students who learn differently. Keep in mind that when teaching and maintaining new behaviors, strategies such as prompting, shaping and reinforcement can be effective.
One thing that won’t differ from any other school year? Touchstone ABA’s commitment to collaborate with our clients’ parents and caregivers, schools and other service providers to achieve the best possible outcomes.
To learn more about Touchstone ABA’s services, you can call (985) 446-6833, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.touchstoneaba.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Touchstone ABA.
*Questions adapted from Back to School Guide for Parents