By Patricia Wright, Ph.D. MPH
Patricia Wright, Senior VP of Program Development, offers her thoughts on how parents might mitigate anxiety for themselves and their children with autism during tough times.
- This is a fluid situation. Stay informed but try not to check your newsfeed constantly. This will contribute to your anxiety, which will be picked up by your children.
- A positive focus on what you can do to control yourself and your environment is best. This will also help model for your child with autism how to manage their anxiety.
- Structure the days for yourself and your family and stick to the schedule with discipline to manage expectations and establish order.
- Schedule the use of previously learned, self-regulation strategies several times a day. For example, if your child has learned how to use guided relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, or other strategies to remain calm, then practice these strategies on a schedule with them. If your child does not have a strategy, now might be a good time to start one.
- Do something together that is positive and/or constructive – cooking, baking, Spring cleaning, helping an elderly neighbor with shopping. Studies have shown that during times that feel out of our control, helping others helps.
- Engage in regular exercise; it could be as simple as taking a walk as a family at a scheduled time every day to get fresh air.
- Schedule a time to discuss your child’s worries, if they express them. Put it on the daily family calendar and try not to let the worry overtake your every conversation.
- Here is some reading about that you can do on your own.