Millions of children and young people have had their lives changed by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, both private and public schools have had to change their attendance policy at nearly every level, moving much of their teaching online to a virtual learning environment. Some students have been able to adapt, while others have struggled. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder have experienced similar highs and lows. Learning how to keep kids connected online for educational purposes, but also social reasons is vital. Fortunately, Ascend Autism’s telehealth services can guide individuals with ASD, families, and caregivers through online learning.
Keeping Kids Connected Online
Every virtual learning environment will be just as unique as any in-person classroom. Teachers, counselors, therapists, parents, and caregivers all need to learn how to manage expectations. Techniques that work well in-person or in traditional classroom settings may not be effective in a virtual space. Therefore, parents and caregivers need to learn to be flexible and adaptable. Many students with ASD can adjust quite well and quite quickly if their online learning environment is appropriately structured and made with ease of use in mind.
Schools will have their own protocols for online learning. However, parents and caregivers need to do their part to ensure each child with ASD will succeed. Consider the following to make online learning as effective as possible:
- The space where a child learns, whether they have ASD or not, needs to be separate from their everyday spaces. Create a distraction-free space where kids can listen and work.
- Attempt to incorporate an activity children will find fun each day.
- Goals need to be realistic. The pace parents and kids may have been used to before may not be what can be accomplished online, or it may move faster. Set achievable goals and adjust them as necessary.
- Discuss with teachers, advocates, and other support staff accommodations and ways to reduce student stress and workload but still keep them at the level they need to be. Always ask questions, but make sure you come up with answers.
- If a child with ASD is taking medication for learning, they need to continue that medication when at home and using a virtual learning environment.
Online learning requires patience, but it also requires students to step away from the screen. Ensure that children have a scheduled period when they can relax (in a different location than their learning space). It’s best to try to make this time screen-free. We are all spending more time than usual online. It’s important to have a break for both our physical health and emotional health.
Keeping kids with ASD connected during the pandemic can be a challenge. Online learning is useful but presents its own set of obstacles to overcome. Also, keeping kids connected online for social purposes is becoming more and more important. Parents and caregivers need to learn how to navigate the variety of virtual learning environments and foster social connections online. They need to do so while still being keenly aware of burnout from too much screen time. Fortunately, Ascend Autism can help.
Our telehealth services are just one way families can prepare and get the support they need. We believe in harnessing as many resources as possible to give individuals with ASD, their family, and caregivers the tools they need to be as effective as possible in treating, coping with and accommodating ASD. Some of our services include: