Image source: Illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Break it down in a simple way. Then again and again.
"There is a terrible flu going around. We need to stay safe at home and away from other people during this time, but I am sorry we don't know how long."
A hard concept to wrap our brains around. This is our new "normal" for the next six weeks at a minimum. But what does that look like for someone with extra needs? For my daughter, Allie, who lives with #PCDH19epilepsy and autism, explaining social distancing to her is going to be repetitive and exhausting. For me to tell her we cannot be around anyone confuses her, to say the least.
I can explain verbally over and over. But, what will happen is number one; it won't stick. And number two, I will get frustrated for repetitive explanations over the next six weeks.
Thanks to Social Stories™ that I discovered years ago, this tool will help immensely. Social Stories™ was created by Carol Gray in 1991. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event, or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.
Allie, now 16 years old, has used Social Stories™ for about ten years. Therapists have introduced these valuable stories to me and helped Allie understand in a simple explanation with pictures and short words to match. A win-win for us as parents, educators, and therapists.
Anyone can create a Social Story™ for a loved one. It doesn't have to be complicated. This story is what we used to explain the current pandemic of 2020. This is a free resource from the Social Stories™ website.
Going forward, in our home, in addition to Social Stories™, we set up a temporary home-school or #unschool work station in our living room, use DIY chore charts, and count down "rings." We have an extensive collection of board games to play. Most importantly, I will make sure wiggle breaks are sprinkled in.
This situation is uncharted territory with regards to a modern-day pandemic. I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing. Please share! And, good luck to us all. If I report back within a few weeks, I am sure my mental health will be challenged, but I am hoping to stay in the positive. How about you?
Joni Brown writes about her life raising her daughter that lives with PCDH-19 epilepsy, autism, anxiety and OCD.