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How We Can Help Children With Disabilities Understand the Coronavirus

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Many children are worried about the coronavirus (COVID-19) — the new-to-humans viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system. As parents, other family members, or children and youth workers, we are likely to be worried about how to keep them safe. Much of the information circulating at the moment is scary and sensationalized, and this can really upset children, especially children with disabilities and health conditions who may struggle to comprehend what they are seeing and hearing, what is true and what is false. Imagine what they are thinking when they see people fighting over toilet rolls or packets of pasta, or when someone tells them school is closed and they can’t see their friends for weeks or even months?

Here are some resources you can use to help the children in your life understand coronavirus better, as well as why things are so different at the moment. These resources can help you to explain why school is closed, as well as what you will be doing at home each day, and a prayer you can use if your family is religious.

Social Stories

Social stories are tools to help children and adults with autism and other disabilities understand the world. They typically describe in detail how to navigate everyday situations and interact with others. They can also help to simplify abstract concepts for concrete thinkers.

MindHeart Social Story — Hello I’m Coronavirus

This free printable PDF social story resource from MindHeart helps children get to know the virus a little bit.

Triple A Alliance Social Story — Coronavirus: Staying Safe

This social story helps us explain to children how to stay safe from coronavirus.
Coronavirus - Staying Safe 1

Coronavirus - Staying Safe 2
As with all social stories, those that have been written by others should only be used as a template. Every social story should be personalized for the people they are being written for if possible. If you want to find out more about how to create social stories, visit my friend Lynn McCann’s site.

Widgit Social Stories

The Widgit website has some helpful and useful information, social stories and symbols/graphics.

Staying Safe From Germs and Washing Your Hands

COVID-19 Closures

School closures Widgit symbols social stories

Widget Visual Timetable/Planner — You can use this to plan and explain each day of the week for your child.

Prayers — COVID-19

This is an excellent prayer/daily office including Widgit symbols provided by Disability and Jesus, which you might like to use at this time, especially as we are unable to get to church.

Twinkl Home School Resources

Twinkl has inspirational lesson plans, schemes of work, assessment, interactive activities, resource packs, PowerPoints and teaching ideas. Twinkl is offering free access to their site and resources to support you as you work with children at home. Visit the Twinkl site and use the promotional code PARENTSTWINKLHELPS to get free access to the resources while schools are closed.

Resources for Teenagers or Young Adults With Learning Disabilities

The Council for Intellectual Disability in Australia has resources for explaining coronavirus/COVID-19 to teenagers or young adults with intellectual/learning disability:

Staying Safe From Coronavirus — free printable PDF download

Viruses and Staying Healthy — free printable PDF download

I hope these resources help you to inform and support the children and young people with disabilities you are engaged with, either as family members or as children’s/youth workers. Let’s keep aware of the facts and look for more ways to protect and help rather than stockpiling toilet paper!

Concerned about coronavirus? Stay safe using the tips from these articles:

This story originally appeared on The Additional Needs Blogfather.

Originally published: March 23, 2020
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